Alden Ehrenreich is officially the new Han Solo. The 26-year-old beat out dozens of other actors for the highly coveted lead role in the upcoming Star-Wars spin-off, which will reportedly follow the iconic character in his younger years, before he links up with the rebel alliance.
His casting was revealed after months of an exhaustive casting process that involved a slew of up-and-coming actors, including Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Scott Eastwood, Taron Egerton, and Jack Reynor. The announcement marked a major leap forward for the Han Solo standalone movie, which is due for release in 2018.
Though Ehrenreich has his work cut out for him in tackling such a daunting role, he has already proved to be a standout on screen in the past. Here are seven things to know about the new Han Solo.
1. He was discovered by Steven Spielberg
In 2003, Ehrenreich and a friend made a home movie that screened at his friend’s bat mitzvah. Spielberg happened to be in attendance at the party and was apparently impressed with Ehrenreich’s performance in the video. The famed director arranged a meeting with the then-teenager at his studio, DreamWorks.
2. His first role was in a Francis Ford Coppola film
Spielberg eventually introduced Ehrenreich to Coppola, who cast the young actor in his 2009 indie flick, Tetro. Two years later, Ehrenreich went on to star in another Coppola movie, Twixt. He also later had a brief cameo in Somewhere, directed by Coppola’s daughter, Sofia.
3. He left New York University to pursue acting
Ehrenreich spent a few years at NYU, but eventually left in 2011 without completing a degree. The actor says he knew that he wanted to return to film at the time. “I just had a feeling of ‘I know what I want to do, and I want to start doing it again,’” he told the New York Times in a recent profile.
4. He’s already headlined a YA adaptation
In 2013, following the success of other YA franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games, Ehrenreich starred opposite Alice Englert in the film, Beautiful Creatures. Though initially envisioned as the beginning of a franchise, the movie earned mixed reviews and ended up underperforming at the box office.
5. He’s been in line for other major roles
In the past, Ehrenreich has come frustratingly close to nabbing breakout roles only to get cut in the final round. In 2014, he was one of the final contenders to play Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but ultimately lost the part to Dane DeHaan (who also reportedly beat out Ehrenreich for the role opposite Daniel Radcliffe in 2013’s Kill Your Darlings).
6. He outshone George Clooney and Channing Tatum
Ehrenreich’s true star-marking part came earlier this year, in the Coen Bros.’ comedy Hail Caesar!. The actor took lessons in rope tricks, horseback riding, guitar, and gun slinging to prepare for his role as cowboy crooner Hobie Doyle, and it all paid off. Even in a cast full of A-listers, Ehrenreich proved to be the standout, earning rave reviews for his scene-stealing performance.
7. He has several other major projects in the works
Having officially nabbed the highly coveted part of Han Solo, Ehrenreich is clearly on the verge of catapulting to superstardom. But that’s not the only notable movie he has on the way. The actor also stars in the Iraq war drama The Yellow Birds, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and features an impressive ensemble cast, including Jennifer Aniston, Toni Collette, and Jack Huston.
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