Perhaps one of the most amazing feats in Woody Harrelson’s illustrious career is that he escaped being doomed to dimwit roles for eternity after his auspicious debut as the loveable lunkhead Woody Boyd in Cheers. He’s proven to be one of the most versatile actors working in Hollywood since leaving the place “where everybody knows your name” 24 years ago, making a name for himself with roles spanning drama (The People vs. Larry Flynt), satire (Wag the Dog), crime thrillers (No Country For Old Men, True Detective), and naturally, comedy (Zombieland). More so lately, Harrelson seems to be fascinated by sci-fi, as evidenced by his memorable turns in the Hunger Games series and the upcoming War For the Planet of the Apes.
In short, anything seems possible to Harrelson, so when he proclaims something to be “the best,” you better take him seriously – even when it comes to addressing a film series as monolithic as Star Wars. In an interview about his new comedy Wilson, Harrelson also gave his thoughts about working on the Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film, where he’s been hired to play the mentor to the young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich).
Harrelson told Collider that the positive vibes he’s feeling about the project stem from the film’s directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller:
“They’re great. You know, any movie’s only as good as the director or in this case directors, and so I have a suspicion, because if you look at the whole, all the movies, the backlog of every one of these movies, there’s a lot of great stuff, but one might not be not as good with the writing in this or the acting in that or the directing in that, this has great actors, great directors, great script, and I really feel like we’re gonna make the best one.”
Dissecting his thoughts, one may take Harrelson’s observations about the previous Star Wars films as a backhanded compliment – maybe even a thinly-veiled shot at the creator of the saga himself. That’s a pretty bold thing to do, considering the films have equated to billions of dollars at the box office and more or less created – or at the very least, redefined – the movie licensing and merchandising industry. Still, Star Wars fans have demanded excellence since the saga kicked off 40 years ago with Episode IV: A New Hope this May 25th, so a little reassurance from an actor who’s put his best foot forward in every single one of his projects over the past three decades doesn’t hurt.
Given his impressive track record, there’s no question Harrelson thinks things through before he signs on to his projects. So, the playful irreverence of Lord and Miller’s previous films – including The LEGO Movie, 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street – combined with a story about one of the best big-screen scoundrels in movie history with Han Solo, seems to be a perfect match for Harrelson’s offbeat sensibilities. The film and television veteran will no doubt be a solid anchor that the cast can rely on as shooting on the film continues for a May 2018 release – and Ehrenreich can take great comfort in knowing he has a real-life mentor along for the ride, so he doesn’t have to fly the young Han movie solo.