[WARNING: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.]
Arguably the biggest moment in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is when villain Kylo Ren (who is revealed to be Ben Solo), murders his father, Han, on Starkiller base as he attempts to consume himself in the Dark Side of the Force. It was a very emotional scene on a number of levels, and seemed to close the book on one of the greatest characters in a galaxy far, far away. After pushing for Han to meet his ultimate demise in Return of the Jedi, Harrison Ford finally got his wish for the charming smuggler as Captain Solo had a noble end.
Not only was Han stabbed through the chest with a lightsaber, the Starkiller base planet was destroyed at the end of The Force Awakens, making it very unlikely Han could ever come back. Star Wars has never been a franchise known for bringing back characters after they die (outside of Force ghosts for Jedi), but some fans were holding on to the hope that they could see the iconic nerf herder one more time. And if a Star Wars: Episode VIII casting call is any indication, they just might.
Movie Casting Call posted a bulletin online, advertising an audition for a lead role in Episode VIII that could be played by “a female of any ethnicity” between the ages of 25-30. The call lists the names of the Force Awakens actors who will be reprising their roles in the upcoming sequel, with one curious name among them. According to the posting, Harrison Ford will be coming back to portray Han Solo. But before moviegoers get too excited, there are a number of red flags here.
[UPDATE: In all likelihood, this Star Wars casting call is a fake, as noted below. Keep that in mind as you read ahead.]
@screenrant movie casting call is a fake site! Many people who work for Lucasfilm have confirmed its not legit— Daisy Ridley Info (@daisyridleyfan) January 11, 2016
For starters, it’s unknown when this particular casting call was written, meaning it could have been finalized prior to the theatrical release of The Force Awakens. If the call came out and Ford was not listed as one of the returning thespians for Episode VIII, it would have spoiled Han Solo’s fate. Ford’s inclusion is most likely a red herring to preserve the twists and turns of Star Wars 7, much like Lucasfilm campaigning for Mark Hamill to receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars. Even if the call was drafted after December 18, 2015, the movie has only been out for a few weeks and some viewers may not have gotten a chance to see it yet.
In all honestly, the casting call appears to be using somewhat dated information. It mentions that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is one of the new additions to the Episode VIII cast along with Benicio del Toro. A few days before The Force Awakens came out, it seemed like she was on board, but a recent report indicates that Mbatha-Raw is no longer attached to the project and could be replaced by Bel Powley. This lends credence to the belief that the call was conceived before The Force Awakens premiered and Lucasfilm was trying to maintain the high level of secrecy surrounding the film.
Theoretically, director Rian Johnson could bring Han Solo back for a flashback sequence that sheds some light on what happened to the original trilogy heroes in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and the sequel trilogy, particularly when Kylo Ren turned to the Dark Side and sent his family into chaos. This would be a plausible instance for Ford to return, as Luke Skywalker tells the story to Rey. Of course, the same thing could be accomplished more economically in just a couple lines of dialogue (without bringing back everyone for another scene), so it would depend on what Johnson has in mind.
The safe money is on Ford not being involved with Episode VIII at all. It’s justifiable to say that Han Solo is not coming back alive (Lucasfilm would not want to undermine the impact of his final Force Awakens scene), and the possibility of a flashback involving the character is an outside one at best. During the Star Wars 7 press tour, Ford was very enthusiastic and seemed truly appreciative for what the franchise meant for his career, perhaps because he knew this was the end of the line. Moviegoers may be getting another adventure with Han Solo in Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s anthology film, but Ford’s days of playing the scoundrel are most likely over.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Movie Casting Call