Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest Star Wars film to hit theaters since Disney bought out Lucasfilm in 2012. It is the second "anthology" film, meaning it is a film not directly related to the "episode" films. But unlike Rogue One, which many fans thought was Episode VIII until the trailers arrived, Solo's subject matter is such that no one has made this mistake this time around. Everyone understands it's a prequel featuring a young scruffy nerf-herder named Han Solo. So who plays Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story? Obviously, Harrison Ford can't de-age himself to play the role, can he?
No, he can't. Technology is good, but not that good, and even if it was, Ford was bound and determined to only come back and play Han Solo if his character would be killed off in Episode VII, and by gods, Disney obliged him.
This meant Disney had to hold a casting call across the galaxy to find someone who could fill the swagger and the attitude that Han Solo embodied all those years ago back in 1977, and then take it back even further to a time before Han Solo was that man, to show how he became that way. The actor they selected was Alden Ehrenreich.
Alden Ehrenreich came to the role in 2016 with a smattering of indie films to his name, and one big one: The Cohen Brothers' comedy Hail, Caesar!, where he played Hobie Doyle. Still, though he was relatively unknown a lot of film critics had seen Caesar (even if audiences didn't) and felt he had some serious acting chops and could pull off the role.
If Ehrenreich can pull off the role remains to be seen when the movie opens this coming Friday. But on the surface, it looks vaguely improbable. For one thing, Ehrenreich sounds absolutely nothing like Harrison Ford. For another, Ehrenreich looks nothing like Harrison Ford.
No really, look at him. He looks like a cross between Benicio Del Toro and Chris Pine.
Then there were the rumors that Ehrenreich couldn't do the part. When original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired last summer, one of the most damning stories was that their chosen lead couldn't handle the part and needed an acting coach (Maggie Kiley) just to get through a scene.
Ehrenreich has worked to set the record straight since then. Talking to Esquire, he insists that was all blown out of proportion: "She was part of conversations that happened for a couple weeks at one point, but that was basically it." But like his character, he's not fazed by bad rumors, or even the times the film looked like it might be a disaster.
I go back to the documentaries I watched about the making of A New Hope. R2-D2’s falling apart, and they come back from the desert with, like, a quarter of what they needed to shoot. It’s kind of in the DNA of something this enormous to be a bit of a challenge.
One can almost hear him shrugging: "We're all fine here, now. Thank you. How're you?"
Reviews of Solo have said that once Ehrenreich gets going in the film properly he brings the sort of swagger expected in the character. One review noted it takes about 30 minutes for one's visual expectations to adjust from Harrison Ford to Ehrenreich, but once it happens, audiences are set. Let's hope so. Ehrenreich is supposedly signed for a possible trilogy if this film takes off, so there's a lot more Han where that came from.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on Friday, May 25, 2018.