Kershner didn’t reveal exactly why, but he wasn’t wholly satisfied with Brackett’s version of the story. Nor were, it seems, “Star Wars” creator George Lucas or “Empire” co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan. Kershner did say that Brackett’s death, however, robbed production of a vital collaborator.
“I went up and met with George at his house, and he introduced me to a lot of the people working on it. Then, when the initial draft script came in, we weren’t happy with it, but there was no chance to rewrite it, because the writer died. So we started meeting with Larry and reworking the script, and we all threw in ideas. I kept thinking in terms of character, George was thinking a lot more of the actual story, and then Larry was thinking of dialogue … So it was a very good moment there. We worked for many weeks, and finally, we got the script.”
Thanks to enterprising Starwoids, one can find copies of Brackett’s initial draft, originally just called “Star Wars II,” online. There were several key differences. In Brackett’s script, for instance, there was meant to be a conventional love triangle between Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), and Luke.
In the final film, Luke leaves the tutelage of Yoda (Frank Oz) to save his friends who are in danger. In Brackett’s script, Luke completed his training and was officially knighted, notably by the ghosts of the deceased Obi-Wan and Anakin, Luke’s father. And yes, the twist that Darth Vader was Luke’s father wasn’t part of Brackett’s original vision.