George Lucas says he thinks Ron Howard will “be great” as the new director of the young Han Solo movie. There have been huge tremors in the Force over the past week, of course, with the surprising firing of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Star Wars anthology movie four months into production.
Following reported rifts between the directing team and co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan over their directing style and overall tone of the movie, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy announced the departure of the Lord and Miller on June 20, and Howard was hired two days later to take the helm of the movie with three weeks left on the shooting schedule.
Since Lord and Miller’s departure, behind the scenes rumblings about troubles in the production — including some reported issues with star Alden Ehrenreich’s performance — have been reported, but on Tuesday, Star Wars creator gave a brief but solid vote of confidence to the production with praise for Howard. In a video on TMZ, Lucas was asked about his feelings about Howard assuming the director’s chair, to which he replied, “I think he’ll be great.” When then asked a question about any advice he could give to Howard, however, Lucas replied, “Nope. Not my job.”
Related: Can Ron Howard Save Han Solo?
While Lucas is the creator of the Star Wars franchise, his “not my job” remark is technically correct, since he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012 and has no obligation or creative input in the future of the saga (some fans would probably prefer he not meddle in Star Wars after he directed the critic- and fan-maligned prequel trilogy). But fans should at least feel some sort of relief in “I’ll think he’ll be great” observation. Maybe such a remark would be flip to some in most circumstances, but since he directed the actor-turned-helmer in the 1973 classic American Graffiti and hired him to direct Willow in 1988, clearly Lucas knows Howard’s work, which has only gotten better over the years.
Besides, what harm is there if Howard does eventually reach out to his old friend for advice? Any director — including one of Howard’s experience and stature — would readily admit that walking into a situation like an unfinished film, especially an unfinished Star Wars film, is going to be a momentous task, and Lucas clearly knows the franchise better than anybody else. After all, Lucas knows better than anybody the scorn a director can be subjected to if a film doesn’t live up to expectations, and it’s hard to believe he would do anything in his power to prevent Howard from experiencing the same.
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