At a recent interview at Sundance Film Festival, Woody Harrelson was asked if he would be playing Han Solo’s mentor, Garris Shrike. Harrelson paused as some murmured about Lucasfilm’s lawyers, before he responded in the affirmative: Yes. Garris Shrike is a Star Wars Legends character who appeared in Ann C. Crispin’s novel The Paradise Snare. The book chronicles the early years of Han Solo, including his youth and teenager years under the wing of Garris Shrike. All of the facts on this list are classified as Star Wars Legends.
Pablo Hidalgo, the creative executive of the Lucasfilm Story Group, has responded to this interview, suggesting that Woody Harrelson was responding simply to whether or not he was playing Han Solo’s mentor, not Garris Shrike. However, even if Harrelson does not play Garris Shrike, it is likely that the Star Wars Story Group and production team will take into account Han Solo’s original origin story when developing a new mentor character. Previously, Harrelson had said, ““I’m a mentor to Han, but I’m also a bit of a criminal. I don’t think I should say much more than that because the Force is not allowing me.” This sounds like a description of Garris Shrike, so the speculation that Harrelson is playing Shrike is not unfounded.
Here are the Star Wars: 15 Things You Should Know About Garris Shrike:
15. He’s the captain of the Trader’s Luck
Garris Shrike is the captain of the Trader’s Luck, a decommissioned Liberator-class ship from the Clone Wars that was used to transport large numbers of troops. Large and slow, it was able to travel through hyperspace, although much of the time Shrike kept it orbitting Corellia. Later, after Trader’s Luck fell out of the hands of Shrike and his crew, it found a new life with the Rebels. The Rebel Alliance bought the ship and restored to its original utility. Renamed the Liberator, it helped to rescue former slaves from the planet Ylesia in the same year as the Battle of Yavin.
In the years leading up to the original trilogy, the Trader’s Luck was the home base for Shrike and his “clan” of criminals. Shrike gathered together a large group of confederates and underlings that he could use in his criminal schemes and enterprises. The Trader’s Luck served as the living space for Shrike and his associates, as well as transport when they left Corellia.
14. He Had Worked as a Bounty Hunter
Garris Shrike’s childhood and life as a young man are largely unknown. What we do know is that at some time before Shrike began his criminal enterprise on Corellia, he worked as a bounty hunter. Shrike was good at finding his man, and much like Han Solo, he was a talented “quick draw”. But, he had a problem. Shrike was irritable and violent, and he had a habit of killing bounties that were worth more alive… or were worthless dead.
Eventually Shrike recognized that his deadly talents would be better used elsewhere, and that being a bounty hunter wasn’t profitable if your mark ended up dead. He retired from his life as a bounty hunter to explore alternative (and criminal) pursuits.
13. He Took in Orphans to build his Gang
Garris Shrike built himself an army of criminals by taking in children who lived on the streets of Corellia. He would convince orphans who were begging that he would adopt them and give them a better life, only to put them to work as pickpockets, con men, and pirates. Shrike was able to convince children to join his gang by promising them a home and a family, but once they were under his care, he would spend as little money as possible to keep them alive.
Han Solo was orphaned as an infant, and lived as an urchin on the streets of Corellia. He did not know who his parents were and did not remember them. Solo didn’t learn about who his parents were until he was an adult. Solo’s earliest memory was meeting Garris Shrike at a Corellian spaceport. Shrike recognized the young orphan’s intelligence, and invited him to join his crew.
12. His Droid, F8GN, taught the children to be pickpockets
F8GN (also known as Eight Gee Enn) was a third-degree droid that Garris Shrike owned and re-programmed for criminal activity. F8GN was originally a copper color, but had so many scraps used for repairs that he had a patchwork quality to him. He also had one green eye and one red eye, and a broken speaker that made his voice either exceptionally low or exceptionally high.
F8GN taught the clan of children that Shrike gathered how to pickpockets. He would wear clothes and have the children practice on him. Only after they could pick his pocket without his robotic senses feeling them would the children be used as pickpockets on the streets of Corellia. After training the children, F8GN would also keep track of the money quotas that they were expected to earn for Shrike either through pickpocketing or begging. If someone didn’t reach their quota, they would need to answer to Shrike.
11. He also smuggled and ran elaborate cons
While Shrike organized a clan of pickpocket orphans, this was not the full extent of his criminal enterprises. While Han began as a beggar and a pickpocket on Corellian, he later would be involved in some of Shrike’s larger operations, including a scams involving asteroid mining and investments. Shrike also had teenagers and some of his adult associates help him with smuggling operations.
Han was a talented pilot, so he would also make money for Shrike through swoop racing. A swoop is a repulsor craft similar to the speeder bikes on Endor, but with a more powerful engine; swoop racing is dangerous, but in the case of the young Han Solo, it was also very lucrative.
Han Solo learned what being a smuggler and a con artist was while he was under Shrike’s wing. In this way, Shrike was Han’s mentor, and Shrike taught him many of the skills that he would use later in his life.
10. Shrike Wore a Military Outfit, but He Wasn’t an Imperial
Shrike was vain about his appearance, and had a signature look to strike terror into the hearts of his subordinates. He often strutted about (even in private) in an overly formal military outfit. This military outfit that he wore, however, was not a sign of his military service, but a costume that he had created for himself, based off of the uniform worn by Imperial Grand Moffs. He also wore a silver ring that had a Devaronian blood-poison jewel set in it. When the gem touched bare skin, it would cause terrible pain, allowing Shrike to take a cheap shot in a fight or torture someone for information.
It does not appear that Shrike has any association with the Imperials beyond wearing a uniform like a Grand Moff. In fact, he mocked Han Solo relentlessly for his desire to go to the Imperial Academy and escape their life of crime.
9. He Had a Hot and Deadly Temper
Shrike was a hothead, and his anger was both swift and fiery. His temper had been a problem during his time as a bounty hunter (as it would lead him to killing his marks), but made him a fearsome leader of his criminal clan. He would beat any subordinate that didn’t follow his orders; even offenses as small as questioning him or failing to meet a daily quota could be met with physical retaliation.
Han Solo was one of his prized children. Shrike recognized that Solo was smart, resourceful, and talented. But Solo’s brains often times would get the better of him. He would question Shrike, and Shrike did not like to be questioned. As he grew up, Han Solo tried to escape Shrike’s grasp multiple times. Each time he was met with a beating. Once, Solo escaped for around six weeks. During that time, he went in search of his family; his cousin, Thrackan Sal-Solo, however, was the one who turned Han in and collected a reward from Shrike. Han was beaten severally for running away.
8. He once beat Han so Hard, Han couldn’t walk for two days
That beating, however, was unfortunately not the worst beating that Han Solo faced at the hands of Garris Shrike. When Han was a teenager, he became more defiant, and faced Shrike’s wrath. On two separate occasions, Shrike beat Han to the point that he almost died. After Han won a gladiator match called the Regional Sector Number Four’s All-Human Free-For-All (where he bested three large human men), he felt like he might be able to take on Shrike. But when he tried to fight Shrike, Shrike relentlessly attacked him. Shrike’s brother, Larrad, and some other members of his crew had to intervene to stop Shrike from killing Han Solo then and there. Han couldn’t chew solid food for a week.
On a separate occasion, after Han tried to escape from Shrike, he was beaten so hard that he could not walk for two days afterwards. Shrike, despite his ridiculous appearance, was a hard and dangerous criminal who was not to be crossed.
7. Shrike killed Dewlannamapia
Dewlannamapia (who sometimes went by Dewlanna) is a Wookiee who fled Kashyyyk and joined the crew of the Trader’s Luck as a cook. She met Han Solo when he was nine years old. She became a mother figure for Han, taking care of him and teaching him to speak the language of Wookiees, Shyriiwook. She also once disobeyed Shrike, stealing a shuttle and taking Han to the hospital when Han needed medical attention.
Ten years before the Battle of Yavin, the then 19-year-old Han Solo decided to try to escape again. Dewlanna offered him her savings. However, Shrike and his brother Larrad, discovered that Han was leaving. In the fight that broke out, Dewlanna broke Larrad’s arm. Shrike tried to shoot and kill Han, saying, “I sentence you to death, Solo. May you rot in all the hells there ever were.” Dewlanna jumped in the way of the blast, sacrificing herself for the young man.
6. At 19, Han Escaped Shrike
Han had tried to escape from Shrike countless times, but at nineteen, he finally successed. After seeing that Dewlanna had taken the blast for him, Han blindly attacked Shrike in a rage. Shrike hit his head in the struggle and was knocked out. After comforting and thanking the dying Dewlanna, Han waited until she passed before he left. Because of her sacrifice, Han was able to finally escape from Shrike’s clutches. Han had lived seventeen years under Shrike’s demented rule, and did not remember any other life. He boarded a ship called the Ylesian Dream and left Shrike behind. He worked as a pilot and a smuggler, eventually going to the Imperial Academy, just as he had dreamed as a young boy.
Shrike did not die in the brawl, and he would never forgot or forgave Han for running away. As far as Shrike was concerned, Han was ungrateful for all that Shrike had provided and believed that Han was responsible for the damage done to him and his brother.
5. Garris Shrike has a Literary Inspiration
One of the major inspirations for Garris Shrike and F8GN, according to Ann C. Crispin, the creator of Garris Shrike and the author of The Paradise Snare, is the character of Fagin from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Like Fagin, Garris Shrike gathered a band of orphans together and taught them to be his own personal army of pickpockets. This would make Han Solo a sci-fi Oliver Twist, or maybe as Shrike’s most talented child, an Artful Dodger. Even the name of F8GN is meant to be the droid version of “Fagin”, teaching the orphans to pick pockets on the streets of Corellia. However, in the novel and the musical Oliver!, Fagin is not as violent as Garris Shrike is; the inspiration for that character trait could be the Dickens character of Bill Sykes, who has episodes of drunken rage, while Fagin is mischievous and obsessed with money, but not bloodthirsty.
4. Shrike Loved Gambling and Drinking
Garris Shrike loved gambling and drinking. Shrike would play sabacc, a popular card game, with the other adults in his crew at night. In fact, the night that Han successfully escaped from the Trader’s Luck, Shrike was playing sabacc. Shrike’s love for drinking made him even more reckless and dangerous than usual. Shrike had a taste for Alderaanian ales, which made him manic in his moods; joyful at one moment, he would become angry at the drop of a hat.
Han may have picked up a love for gambling (even though he never liked to be told the odds) from Shrike. Sabacc, Shrike’s favorite game, is also the game that Han played against Lando Calrissian for the Millennium Falcon, so Han might have picked up a few tricks from Shrike. Han also developed a taste for Alderaanian ale, and it became his favorite beverage as well. Despite what Han might think of Shrike, they do have a lot in common.
3. He Manipulated Han By Promising to Tell Him About His Parents
Garris Shrike often used violence as a way to control his people, but he also would use psychological manipulation in order to entice Han Solo. Shrike would tell Han that he knew who his parents were, leading him on by saying that there was precious information about them. But Shrike would rarely share any of the information with Han, instead just using it to keep Han following orders. For a long time, Han did not even know what his last name was; Shrike accidentally called him by his last name, and the young Han was overjoyed.
It is clear that Shrike had no intention of telling Han Solo anything. It was just a way to manipulate the child that was in his care. What the extent that Shrike actually knew about Han’s parents is unknown. In fact, he could have known nothing. This opens up an interesting possibility – perhaps Han isn’t a Solo at all and Shrike made the whole thing up.
2. Shrike Tracked Han for a Bounty
Years later, Garris Shrike heard of a bounty that was on a smuggler. Even though the bounty was on an alias, Shrike realized that the bounty was on Han Solo. Shrike decided that the perfect revenge (and some quick cash) was to hunt down Solo himself. Shrike returned to his old profession of bounty hunting. As it turned out, Shrike did a good job of tracking down his former charge, finding Han Solo on Coruscant. Han had just learned that he has been accepted to Academy of Carida, a prestigious Imperial Academy.
Shrike successfully surprised Solo, and the two got into a scuffle. As Han tried to escape, Shrike shot him. Learning a valuable lesson from his previous bounty hunting experience, Shrike used a stun gun this time. It seemed for a moment as though Shrike had won his prize. He dragged a stunned Solo into the elevator.
1. Shrike Was Killed by Another Bounty Hunter
While it looked like Shrike had finally beaten Han, the stun gun wore off in the elevator. Han managed to fight off Shrike, this time getting the gun out of Shrike’s hands and turning it on his mentor. Shrike, however, was far from worried by this turn of events. He was confident that Han would not shoot him, and even went so far as to hold the secret knowlege Shrike had of Han’s parents over him yet again. Han hesitated shooting Shrike, but we never learn if he would actually pull the trigger.
At this moment, another bounty hunter who was on the scent for Solo shot Shrike, killing him. The identity of that bounty hunter is unknown, but Han turns the blaster on the bounty hunter moments later, killing them as well. Shrike lived a dirty life in the criminal underworld, and he died a dirty death at the hands of another criminal.
Do you think that Woody Harrelson is Garris Shrike? Let us know in the comments!