Disney and Lucasfilm now know that their self-proclaimed experiment to produce standalone Star Wars spinoff films that take place outside the main Skywalker family saga is a successful one. They are currently enjoying the fruits of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which earned widely positive reviews and has scored more than $800 million at the worldwide box office to date. This sets the bar fairly high for the next anthology movie, a prequel centered around a young Han Solo. Rising star Alden Ehrenreich will play the scruffy-looking nerf herder, with LEGO Movie filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller calling the shots behind the camera.
The plan is for Han Solo to begin principal photography in February, so the directors are currently winding down pre-production. Currently, the supporting cast includes Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke as the mysterious female lead. Now, another heavy hitter could be joining that roster of A-list talent: the one and only Woody Harrelson.
The news comes courtesy of Variety, who say that the Oscar nominee has emerged as the top choice to play Han Solo’s mentor in the film. They note that the talks remain in the early stages, but if it all goes according to plan, Harrelson will join the ensemble and lend his talents to the galaxy far, far away.
In typical Star Wars fashion, there are no other official details about the role or what the part entails. The only other bit of information in the Variety report is that studio executives were looking for a thespian with “considerable clout” for this particular character and held meetings with actors over the last few weeks. This harkens back to George Lucas’ casting process when he made A New Hope; the leads went to youngsters Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, but Lucas knew someone like Alec Guinness was needed for Obi-Wan Kenobi. It will be interesting to watch Han’s dynamic with his mentor (who has never been mentioned in the films before), since family is a running theme in the series. While it doesn’t appear at this juncture the character is Solo’s father, it’s safe to say they’ll have that kind of relationship. There’s no word yet on whether or not Harrelson would sign a multi-picture contract should he come on board.
Some fans remain skeptical of Han Solo because Ford became so synonymous with the smuggler during his tenure, but there’s no denying the talent Lucasfilm has assembled for this film. Lord and Miller are two of the premier directors working today, and they’ll be drawing from a script by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon. Harrelson should be a very valuable addition to the cast, as he is one of the industry’s finest character actors capable of handling drama and comedy. Whatever his role is, he should prove to be an excellent fit and hopefully add new layers to what the audience already knows.