Disney CEO Bob Iger praised new Han Solo director Ron Howard when asked about the status of the Star Wars spinoff. Based on the early years of the galaxy’s most revered space pirate, the Han Solo film was plunged into turmoil Tuesday when Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy announced that the production had let go co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller because of “creative differences.” At the center of the dispute was the reported conflict between the directors and co-screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan over the tone of the film, which reportedly was more comedic and improvisational in nature than Kasdan had intended.
Disney and Lucasfilm quickly found a replacement with Oscar-winning A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard, who was gracious in his acceptance of the directorial duties. In a tweet, Howard said that he hoped to “honor the great work that was already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film.”
Related: Can Ron Howard Save Han Solo?
While reports about Han Solo out of the production have been carefully measured in the past week, a TMZ photographer put Iger on the spot Saturday with a few questions about the status of the film. Iger mainly brushed off the questions in the ambush-style interview, but gave a few answers in an effort to assure Star Wars fans that the production was on the right path. When the photographer/interviewer asked him if the film could be salvaged, Iger smiled confidently and laughed before saying, “Yes, of course. Ron Howard’s in charge. Yes, of course.”
Despite the intrusiveness of the situation, Iger remained pleasant throughout the brief exchange. Pressed for an assurance for fans that the Han Solo film is “not doomed,” Iger replied, “First of all, we have a great script, a great cast and a great director. It’ll be fine. (I’m) very excited.” When asked if he thought the film was going to be “delayed very much,” Iger replied, “I’m not going to say.”
Considering the circumstances (Iger was apparently trying to retrieve his car from a parking area when confronted by the photographer/interviewer),the Disney chief handled the unexpected questioning about as well as to be expected. No matter where the production stands at the moment, the last thing Iger is going to do is give a detailed analysis to a guy with a camera on the street. In due time, Iger is sure to speak on the matter, but until then, the production needs to calm the atmosphere around them; and that can’t be accomplished with anyone — particularly the stature of Iger — talking out of turn.
Apart from Howard, maybe the best person for the job at this juncture would have been Kasdan; but DGA rules prevented him from doing so. Together with Howard’s experience as a director and long-standing history with director George Lucas and Lucasfilm, though expect Kasdan to be a stabilizing force, so to speak, as the Han Solo production moves forward. Whether their combined experience will be enough to fix whatever’s broken with the film is yet to be seen, but there’s no disputing that the talent is there to get it done.
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