Star Wars is known for their efforts to keep details of their films under wraps, ever since the Disney reboots began. But the barrier is finally down on the latest installment of the franchise, the stand-alone Solo film. While the first media blitz of last week didn't give away much plot, we did learn quite a few Solo: A Star Wars Story details, including how Ron Howard took over directing last summer and how he worked to get this film made after the stunning departure of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Solo: A Star Wars Story has always been the movie that fans seem least thrilled about. It doesn't have the thrill of being Episode VII, VIII or IX. Unlike Rogue One, which chronicled the unheralded heroes who stole those Death Star plans tucked away in R2-D2, it's not telling an unknown story of the Rebellion. Instead, it's giving us the backstory of "Young Han Solo," which is difficult, since we already had a movie with a "Young Han Solo" in it. It was called Star Wars. (Now known as "Episode IV: A New Hope.") The idea of an actor attempting to play Harrison Ford in his prime is difficult to imagine at best.
And that was all before the calamity happened behind the scenes with the director turnover. Add to that Lucasfilm's insistence to leave it in the Memorial Day release position instead of ceding back to December (where fans have become used to the films arriving) and there's a lot that Solo is fighting to overcome.
That's why last week's blitz was so important to the film, to change fans' perspective on how things played out. To that end, let's go over some of the most surprising details we learned.
1. Ron Howard Knew About Star Wars In 1972
One of my first reactions upon seeing the Solo trailer was that it felt a bit like Lucas' early film American Graffiti, which is actually the movie where Ron Howard first worked with him. It turns out Howard also heard about Star Wars for the first time during that shoot.
Howard recalls Lucas' initial description:
[H]e said, ‘Yeah, I want to do a big science fiction movie. I’m working on a script... it’s a little bit like Flash Gordon, but it’s not Flash Gordon, but I liked those movies when I was a kid and those comics and things. But, you know, it has, like, the grandeur of 2001, and the realism of those special effects that Kubrick created... But maybe fast.’
2. Donald Glover Consulted With Billy Dee Williams
A big surprise is how many original cast members were also included in working on this film. Donald Glover revealed he sat down with the original Lando Calrissian, Billy Dee Williams, to discuss the character. According to Glover:
[H]e just told me, just be charming. And so, I was like, 'Okay!' I just kind of did that. He said, 'Just be interested in things.' Lando has, I wouldn’t say eccentric, but eclectic tastes. So I tried to work that into the role as much as possible.
3. Harrison Ford Consulted Everyone
While Glover talked to Williams, apparently Ford quietly talked to everyone who wanted to ask him questions. Considering how much Ford was anti-Star Wars after it hit so big — partly because he didn't want the single role to define his career — it's good to learn he mellowed out. According to Kathleen Kennedy:
What [Ford] did so beautifully for Alden was he talked a lot about what he remembered when he first read Star Wars, and what George had done with Han. Who the character was and the conversations he had for so many years with George about how that character developed. He gave Alden that kind of insight which was invaluable.
4. George Lucas Helped Direct
This one might be the most shocking to the hardcore fans, who know that up until now, Disney has held the original creator at arm's length for fear of tainting the new films with the prequel brush. Perhaps having made $4 billion and counting, they're no longer so worried about keeping him out of the room. Or perhaps it was just Ron Howard trusting his instinct. But the end result is Lucas actually helped direct a scene:
He had intended to just kind of stop by and say hi, and he stayed five hours. There’s even one little moment in a scene that — I can’t tell you what, sorry — but in the scene on the Millennium Falcon where George said, ‘Why doesn’t Han just do this.’
5. No One Has Hard Feelings
Perhaps the most surprising reveal, though, is that no one has hard feelings about how things turned out. Not Kennedy, and not Lord and Miller. (They are quoted sounding like they went through a breakup of a relationship they're glad is over.)
Will this be enough to get fans into the theaters? We'll find out come Memorial Day weekend.
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters everywhere on May 25, 2018.