It was 10 a.m., just hours before the Solo: A Star Wars Story world premiere, when Darren Moser slipped into his completed L3-37 cosplay for the first time.
Moser had been scrambling for three months to finish the build in time to line the red carpet in Los Angeles, relying on a few scarce images from Topps trading cards, movie clips, and a single Funko action figure to help guide him on the detailed backside of the new droid.
Luckily, the costume not only fit, but the effect was so stunning Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the actor who brings the self-made droid to life on screen in the film, stopped to joyously appraise his work during the special event.
So did the film’s costume designers, David Crossman and Glyn Dillon.
Moser was among many most impressive fans and cosplayers who lined the red carpet to usher in the world premiere of the new film last week. The event was the culmination of months of hard work by cosplayers to bring the new crew of scoundrels and smugglers to life and gave some the chance to thank their makers in person at the star-studded event.
A couple of scoundrels
Ashleigh Olson, 30, Ventura County, California, and her boyfriend Bryan Morton, 33, Glendale, California, cosplayed the duo of Han Solo and Qi’ra for their first time on a Star Wars red carpet. Then they quickly became a trio when they met their own no-good swindler, Lando cosplayer Ben Iserhien, 19, Orange County, California, at the event and became fast friends.
Olson and Morton said they tore apart ready-made jackets and refashioned them to look like the costumes from the film every time new images became available. “Anything: a standee, a poster, something in a book, a magazine. We would rip it apart and then add it,” Olson said.
Olson was already a big fan of Emilia Clarke, and was excited to meet the woman who brings Qi’ra to life in the new movie. “Oh, I’m going to cry. This make-up’s gone,” Olson said.
When Clarke spotted Olson’s Qi’ra cosplay, she stopped for a hug while Morton captured the moment on camera. The look on Olson’s face? Pure joy.
Smoothie in a cape
Everything you’ve heard about Iserhien’s Lando cosplay is true. When he first heard about the film, “My first thought was, I want to be cast as Lando,” he said.
Of course, Donald Glover landed the role. “Ok, I’ll be the first to make the costume,” he conceded. From the moment he saw the first character poster, Iserhien worked nonstop to hand stitch the yellow and blue ensemble without the help of a sewing machine. When something wasn’t to his liking, he tore it up and started again, remaking the cape and tie the weekend before the red carpet debut, he said. “I actually finished this on Tuesday,” he said Thursday night, painting the last details onto the black and white tie.
Brandon Jackson, a Rebel Legion leader from California and a longtime Lando fan, also cosplayed the colorful new ensemble in a costume created by his friend and prolific costume maker Dawn Bright. Bright has made over 50 Star Wars costume creations for different costuming groups, including 30 that were Legion firsts. Jackson paused to strike a pose with his own Han, Brent Williams, 27, of Los Angeles, and Val, Elicia Duncan, 32, Pasadena.
“Who doesn’t want to be Han?” Williams said of choosing the cosplay. “I really felt like I had a connection with this one because it was a young Han, starting out and trying to find his place in the world….This costume represents a beginning and I still feel like I’m at a beginning — in my costuming career and in life.”
The belt was the finishing the touch. “It’s not Han without a holster.”
Duncan arguably had the most difficult time pulling off her Val cosplay because there was so little information and few images about the mysterious character played by Thandie Newton.
“I found one single picture,” Duncan said, but she pulled it off. The crowning achievement? When Newton excitedly crossed the red carpet to meet her.
A different kind of droid
As for Moser and his L3 cosplay, you may remember that he was previously featured here for building a brilliant K-2SO puppet. This time, he donned 4-inch platform heels and salvaged astromech parts, including legs and vents, to become Lando’s droid sidekick. Unlike his previous build, Moser hadn’t seen the film yet when he put the finishing touches on this cosplay. “It’s a little bit of guessing but it’s a really great character,” Moser said. “I think she’s going to find her own fandom.”
Moser’s towering silhouette was rivaled only by the mighty Chewbacca, an impressively furry creation worn by cosplayer Daniel Young, and the actor who portrays the beloved Wookiee in the new film, Joonas Suotamo.
Moser was intrigued by hints that L3 was unlike any droid that had come before, from her asymmetrical and cobbled together look — including a different number of fingers on each hand — to her fascination with droid rights, he said.
“You see all the familiar but it’s in a very new way, which is intriguing. What’s her story? Why does she look like this?”
You’ll have to see the film to find out.
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives May 25, 2018.
Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!