LUCAS GOES SOLO
WE JUMP BACK IN TIME TO FIND THE SOUL OF A KEY STAR WARS CHARACTER
The opportunity to delve into Han Solo’s origin story was irresistible for director Ron Howard. The self-confessed Star Wars fan helms Lucasfilm’s second spin-off of the franchise. Following on from the success of 2016’s prequel Rogue One, which was set immediately before the events of the original Star Wars film A New Hope, Solo charts the adventure-filled past of the galactic scoundrel and smuggler made famous by Harrison Ford.
“In a way, this is the first real character study in the galaxy so far for fans,” he says. “The story very much reflects the spirit of the original movies in the combination of playfulness, thematic focus mixed with great action and a universe that is fascinating, inviting, entertaining and a little bit thought-provoking.”
Solo explores Han Solo’s formative years and follows his journey through a series of crucial encounters.
“This is a rite of passage story consistent with Star Wars, with many themes that will resonate with audiences,” Howard says.
“It’s about one character’s journey, the way that he is tested by the unique challenges that he faces and by the people he meets to become the character we know so well.”
Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Solo will meet his future copilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and encounter the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) in a journey that sets the course of one of the saga’s most unlikely heroes.
After Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise in 2012, creator George Lucas retained the rights to make spin-off films based in the same universe. Solo was reportedly the first project Lucas talked about when outlining his plans to producer Kathleen Kennedy.
“He’s very authentic,” Kennedy says of the beloved character. “He’s a scoundrel, he’s a maverick and there’s a mystery to him. Handsome, incredibly charismatic, and adorable – that’s a pretty great combination for a Star Wars action hero.”
When it came to finding their young Solo, Lucas and Kennedy couldn’t go past Alden Ehrenreich who was one of the very first actors the filmmakers saw during the casting process.
While not widely known to mainstream audiences, he has received critical acclaim for his scene-stealing performances in Hail, Caesar, Rules Don’t Apply and opposite Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine.
“Alden is thoughtful; he’s an artist and he’s very passionate about his work on a very pure level,” Howard says.
“He has thrown himself into creating this character not as an imitation of Harrison but understanding the connection between Harrison, the Han Solo character and his own instincts that can connect him to the character in similar ways.”
Ehrenreich is joined by a talented cast including Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover (aka musician Childish Gambino), Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as Han’s first love Qi’ra.
“Emilia is wise beyond her years in a way I really admire and appreciate,” Howard says.
“Understanding Han’s relationships with women on a more emotional level is helpful in broadening out the character, understanding what makes him tick, what’s he’s capable of feeling.
“Emilia really understood that in order to learn more about Han, we needed to see a very dimensional female lead.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on Thursday.