When knee-deep into production, Solo: A Star Wars Story was marred by the fact that its directors left the project with mere weeks left from finishing filming. That sent a panic alarm to fans of the beloved franchise, and Han Solo, of course. As it is, the fanfare surrounding the project was kept surprisingly low, considering this is, after all, a Star Wars story and a Disney movie.
Thankfully, at the eleventh hour, actor turned director Ron Howard stepped in to put his finishing touches on the Han Solo origin story. Before you catch it at the theatres, here’re 9 things you need to know about the movie.
1. Just who is Alden Ehrenreich?
He might be a largely foreign name before he slipped into those huge boots of Harrison Ford, but Ehrenreich has been acting since 2005, mostly in bit parts on the small screen. He made his feature-film debut in the 2009 Tetro by Francis Ford Coppola. Incidentally, Steven Spielberg was the one who discovered him and got him a talent agent. It turns out Spielberg’s daughter appeared in a comedy video with Ehrenreich, and that caught the famed director’s eye. This led to his casting on popular TV series such as Supernatural and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Apparently, Ehrenreich is the very first actor that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller auditioned. The pair shared that while they liked a lot of other actors they saw, but "the first guy we saw was the best for the part." Other actors who vied for the role and was shortlisted include Dave Franco, Taron Egerton, Jack Reynor, Miles Teller, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Emory Cohen and Jack O’Connell.
3. An acting coach and help from Harrison Ford?
Yes, it turns out that despite winning the role of a lifetime, Lucasfilm was not all too confident with his acting. An acting coach was hired to guide Ehrenreich, and to ensure he got all the Han Solo mannerisms. Harrison Ford himself was brought onto the set during filming to help him out.
4. Han Solo’s Mentor
5. Ron Howard and his Star Wars Connection
Although he was asked to take the reins of the production during its last leg, this isn’t the first brush Howard had with Star Wars. He was originally considered to direct Star Wars: Episode 1- The Phantom Menace back in 1999. However, Howard politely declined, calling it “too daunting”. And now 18 years later, here we are.
6. I’m Chewbacca, hear me roar!
One of the familiar faces in the movie is, of course, everyone’s favourite Wookie- Chewbecca. Original Chewie actor Peter Mayhew has relinquished the role due to his frail health, and putting on his gigantic suit since Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo. At 2.11m tall, he’s an easy choice. Suotamo reportedly penned a heartfelt letter to Mayhew, saying that he was doing the role not because of Star Wars, but rather, for Mayhew himself.
7. Qi’ra, the galactic femme fatale
You probably know that the mother of dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, plays Qi’ra, a character whose identity is shrouded in secrecy. All we know is that she’s a comrade of Solo. Before she clinched the role, other notable actresses who auditioned for the role include the Valkyrie warrior Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Pink Power Ranger Naomi Scott, Divergent alumni Zoe Kravitz, Kiersey Clemons and Jessica Henwick.
8. Where’re them droids?
Just in case you’re on the lookout, our two most beloved droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO will not appear in the film. In fact, this marks the first live-action Star Wars film to not feature them.
9. So, what happened to the original directors?
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who directed The Lego Movie (2014) were brought in as the film’s co-directors. However, they clashed with producer Kathleen Kennedy throughout the production over the direction and tone of the film. While the duo encouraged improvisation and leaned towards a more comedic tone, the film’s writer, Lawrence Kasdan and other Lucasfilm members were not fond of the script deviation. Eventually, they bowed out, paving the way for Howard.