What Does the ‘Han Solo’ Movie and Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ Have in Common?
Tag and Bink.
Or, as they’re known in Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Two sets of names, but the same characters.
A little history, both of Shakespeare and of Star Wars, is in order to understand the connection.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are a pair of minor characters in Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play that isn’t about overly romantic teenagers engaging in a suicide pact. Neither Rosencrantz nor Guildenstern are hugely important to the overall narrative of Hamlet, and generally would be entirely forgotten about, were it not for playwright and comedian Tom Stoppard.
Stoppard created Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead for the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival back in the Sixties. It’s a play that retells the story of Hamlet, but from the perspective of the two side characters that nobody pays attention to.
As it turns out, while Hamlet is pondering the nature of life, death, and everything in between, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are busy dealing with their own problems that inadvertently set into motion a lot of the big events of the more famous play.
This has become a popular parody structure for stories in the years since. The most famous modern incarnation of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is The Lion King 1½, in which the story of the original movie is retold from the perspective of Timon and Pumbaa.
Even Star Wars got in on the act, with Tag and Bink Are Dead, a deliberate parody of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that follows the story of a pair of rebel soldiers who inadvertently set in motion the events of the Star Wars trilogy (and its prequels).
For example, the pair end up flying TIE Fighters through a series of mishaps, one of which leads the Millennium Falcon to the Death Star in A New Hope.
Ever wonder who told Anakin to try to seduce Padme by talking about sand? Not these guys, although they did give him pointers on when to try kissing her.
Tag and Bink are the result of a Shakespeare/Star Wars parody mash-up that’s ended up being way more popular than anyone could have imagined. They were never really part of the main Star Wars canon, because they’re ridiculous, but now, Ron Howard has revealed that they’ll be showing up in the Han Solo movie.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) October 14, 2017
At first Howard’s tweet, with a picture of two Imperial soldiers (played by Jon Kasdan and Toby Hefferman) seemed like it was probably just rumor bait to mess with fans.
Then, though, Kasdan himself, who was involved with writing Han Solo, tweeted out to make it expressly clear that he and Hefferman are absolutely, definitely playing Tag and Bink.
What a weird world we live in.
Thank You, Kevin. I’m a huge fan and I had to get ’em in there, and then had to play it myself (with Toby Hefferman) to do it justice
— Jon Kasdan (@JonKasdan) October 14, 2017
So, then, there is now an official connection between Star Wars and Hamlet, with a pair of characters existing in both stories, albeit with different names.
It’s funny how a pair of minor, fairly unimportant characters in a Shakespeare play have managed to work their way into one of next year’s biggest blockbusters. Modern moviemaking sure is a weird process.
Here’s hoping, for the true Shakespearean experience that Kasdan and Hefferman’s characters will at some point exit, pursued by a bear (or a Star Wars equivalent