Lucasfilm has made no secret of their plans to keep the Star Wars franchise alive indefinitely. 2015’s release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was only the beginning. The film acted as just the first in a brand new trilogy, with self-contained Star Wars Anthology movies releasing in the off-years. The new Anthology series kicked off in 2016 with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but many are looking to 2018, eagerly awaiting the Han Solo film, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Even a year away, we still have tons of information about what we can expect from the Han Solo origin story. We have our directors, lead actor, and most importantly, a set-in-stone release date that has us counting down the days. So without further ado, here’s exactly what we know so far.
1. The controversy surrounding Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Star Wars directing jobs are typically doled out to a certain kind of creative type. What we see is a collection of sci-fi and action mainstays, composed of guys like J.J. Abrams (The Force Awakens), Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi), Gareth Edwards (Rogue One), and Colin Trevorrow (Episode IX).
Lucasfilm went in a completely different direction for the Han Solo movie, originally bringing on The Lego Movie masterminds Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, a duo whose background is almost entirely in the realm of comedy. It would have made for an interesting break from the norm to say the very least, bringing in talent that breaks the mold of what we usually see for Star Wars.
That all fell apart though when Lucasfilm announced that they would be parting ways with the duo over “creative differences.” It makes for some odd timing, given that Lord and Miller were just three weeks away from wrapping the film. A report from Variety cites their tendency to go off script on the set as one of the driving factors, as well as frequent clashes with Lucasfilm president, Kathleen Kennedy.
2. Ron Howard will take over directing duties
As announced by Lucasfilm, respected director Ron Howard will helm the Solo film now that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have been fired. “At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago,” stated Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”
3. Alden Ehrenreich will be playing the young Han Solo
Casting young Han Solo was nothing short of a grind for Lucasfilm, auditioning upwards of 3,000 (!) different actors for the role. In the end, they handed it to the first person that auditioned, Alden Ehrenreich. The young star already proved his acting mettle in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, and soon will be in for the role of a lifetime.
The bar will be set high for Ehrenreich from the second he appears on-screen. He’ll be filling the shoes of Harrison Ford, who defined the role back in 1977. It remains to be seen how Ehrenreich will measure up, but there’s no denying his talent and ability.
4. We’ll get to see how Han and Chewie met
Han Solo and Chewbacca’s friendship is one that’s gained iconic status in the sci-fi canon. The duo goes back decades and continues all the way to the end of the road with Han’s death in The Force Awakens. That said, any Han Solo origin story just wouldn’t be complete without including Chewie. Thankfully, we won’t have to imagine a world where that doesn’t happen.
Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed the affable Wookiee’s role as part of the greater origin story. That seems to mean we’ll get to see how the two met, befriended each other, and eventually became the greatest duo this side of R2-D2 and C-3PO.
5. There are rumored plans for a trilogy
Part of that whole “keep Star Wars alive forever” directive involves finding new and exciting ways to continue the saga past the main trilogies. The Anthology series is Lucasfilm’s best bet for the time being, but as a collection of self-contained stories, even that has its limits.
For Han Solo though, there’s a different kind of timeline in place. NY Daily News cites a report from one of their sources claiming that “Disney has quietly signed (Alden Ehrenreich) to a three-picture deal, paving the way for more Han Solo flicks if the one currently being written strikes gold at the box office.”
This of course, could mean a number of things, from small cameos in other films to initial plans for a full-blown trilogy. Either way, expect to see more of Ehrenreich in the distant future.
6. Lord and Miller’s original vision for a young Han Solo
It’s important for a director to understand the main character on a profound level, especially when it comes to one as interesting and charismatic as Han Solo. Previous directors Lord and Miller proved that they understand Han and then some at London’s Star Wars Celebration in 2016, outlining their own views on the world’s favorite smuggler.
(Solo) doesn’t want to do anything that he’s told. When told not to do something, it makes him want to do it more. [He’s] very sarcastic and at the end of the day he’s unreasonably optimistic. I think that’s why we fall for that guy and we got so excited about making this movie. This kind of dichotomy between this grouchy seemingly cynical guy with the biggest heart in the galaxy
7. Kasdan on ‘the person we meet in the cantina’
Star Wars stalwart Kasdan is the one penning the film’s screenplay. Kasdan has been around since the franchise’s beginning, having written the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and most recently, The Force Awakens.
For the Han Solo flick, we see a premise based around one simple question, described by Kasdan in a podcast interview with Empire magazine: “What formed the person we meet in the cantina?” Kasdan goes on to specify a timeline that sets the film approximately 10 years before the events of A New Hope, giving us plenty of ground to cover before Han ever encounters Luke and Obi-Wan.
8. Donald Glover will play a young Lando Calrissian
It wouldn’t be a Han Solo movie without the smuggler’s oldest friend, Lando Calrissian. Up until now, Lando’s a rare character who’s never been recast in any of his various forms, with original actor Billy Dee Williams having returned to voice Lando in everything from the Battlefront video game to Disney’s Rebels TV series.
Soon though, we’ll see the first new actor filling Williams’ considerable shoes, with Donald Glover (Community) officially tagged by Lucasfilm to assume the role.
9. Emilia Clarke has joined the cast in an unnamed role
Per StarWars.com, Emilia Clarke has joined the cast of Solo. However, there are still no details about what character she will play. Clarke is best known for her portrayal of Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
10. Woody Harrelson will also be coming aboard
The film’s cast is already packed with talent, featuring Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, and Emilia Clarke. Lucasfilm continued to fill out the cast, bringing on Woody Harrelson in an announcement on the official Star Wars website. “We couldn’t be more excited to work with an artist with as much depth and range as Woody,” said then-directors Lord and Miller. “His ability to find both humor and pathos, often in the same role, is truly unique. He is also very good at ping pong.”
While we already knew that Harrelson would be appearing in the young Han Solo movie, the actor recently revealed a few details about his role. In an interview with Variety, Harrelson confirmed that he would play a mentor to the young Han Solo. The interviewer also referenced a character named Garris Shrike, who plays a similar role in the old Star Wars Expanded Universe (now known as Legends).
However, it was unclear if Harrelson was confirming the character’s name, or just his role in the film. You can watch the interview here and judge for yourself. Per Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki site, Shrike raised Han Solo and is known as a harsh disciplinarian.
11. The film will hit theaters May 25, 2018
Despite early reports that Solo would be releasing as late as December 2018, we now know that it’ll officially hit theaters May 25, 2018. It’s a break from the normal schedule that’s seen Lucasfilm putting out a Star Wars movie every December, making it so we’ll only have to wait five months for the next release following The Last Jedi in late-2017.
12. Filming has started (sort of)
As seen in this tweet from Miller when he was still at the helm, filming for the young Han Solo movie has officially begun. Besides announcing the start of filming for one of the Star Wars saga’s most anticipated standalone movies, Miller’s “Han First Shot” tweet also cleverly references the “Han shot first” controversy that was sparked by Lucas’ decision to change a key scene in the digitally remastered version of the original trilogy.
Now that Lord and Miller are no longer with the project though, production has ground to a halt. However, as announced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, plans are to resume filming on July 10, under the guidance of veteran director Ron Howard.
13. The rest of the cast
The full cast of the film was finally revealed in an official cast photo released by Lucasfilm (above). In addition to Ehrenreich, Harrelson, Glover, and Clarke, the film will also star Thandie Newton (not pictured above), Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca.
And as recently teased by director Ron Howard (see below), Paul Bettany has also joined the cast. While it’s unclear at this point what character Bettany will be playing in the film, an unnamed source cited by /Film suggests that he will be portraying the same character that Michael K. Williams was supposed to portray before he was cut due to his unavailability for reshoots.
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 1, 2017
Stay tuned for more updates as they come!
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