Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are gearing up to begin production on their Star Wars anthology film, a prequel centered around young Han Solo starring Alden Ehrenreich as the iconic smuggler. Over the past few months, the supporting cast has rounded into shape, with the likes of Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke signing on to play Lando Calrissian and the mysterious female lead, respectively. The most recent addition to the ensemble is Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson, who is locked in to portray Han Solo’s mentor – a character he described as “a bit of a criminal.”
Ever since Harrelson’s involvement was announced, fans have offered their theories for who exactly he will be playing. Just yesterday, there appeared to be some confirmation when Harrelson seemingly stated in an interview that he would bring life to Garris Shrike, a figure from the now defunct Star Wars Legends publications. In those books, Garris was the man who raised Han Solo, so he would definitely fit the profile of a mentor/guardian. Viewers were excited to see another Legends character make the jump to the official canon (following Grand Admiral Thrawn), but now there’s some doubt over Harrelson’s role in Han Solo. Things might not be as clear as they seem.
Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo, who is the creative/story develop executive at the studio (and a leading member of the famed story group) took to Twitter to address the Harrelson situation, making reference to The Force Awakens screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s “Darth Vegas” response to a question about the possibility Rey’s staff once belonged to Darth Plagueis.
I'll let others sort it out, but ask yourself - what question was he answering? #cryptictweets.— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) January 23, 2017
@LucasSiegel It's Darth Vegas all over again. These guys don't know these names.— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) January 23, 2017
Hidalgo is essentially implying that there was some mix-up between the question Harrelson was asked and his answer, and that very well could be the case. Whenever a major franchise like Star Wars is the topic of conversation, there’s always much interest in learning as much information as possible. At times, fans can take the smallest things and try to read too much into them, when there may not be all that much to discuss. Though Harrelson is asked specifically about Garris Shrike, he appeared to be confused by the name in the original Variety interview, which plays into Hidalgo’s statement about the movie’s creative teams not always knowing the identities of characters from the Expanded Universe materials. There’s still a chance Harrelson is playing Garris, but those odds seem less likely now, especially with a Lucasfilm employee weighing in on the matter.
It will be interesting to see what becomes of this. Lucasfilm typically stays out of fan theories and speculation, but they do pick their spots and provide some clarity when necessary. Examples of this include debunking the “Snoke is Plagueis” theory and the reports General Leia Organa would be recreated using CGI for Star Wars: Episode IX. They could very well make some sort of official confirmation regarding Harrelson when Han Solo starts filming next month, if only so people get an idea out of their heads sooner rather than later. If the plan was to include Garris Shrike in the spinoff, Hidalgo’s reaction would probably have been different. It’s not an outright denial, but it certainly indicates everyone was quick to jump the gun.