The Star Wars franchise is bolstering its newest slate of blockbusters with big-name veteran actors. Although The Force Awakens made A-list stars out of Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and John Boyega, the upcoming Episode VIII adds Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern to its cast. The as-yet untitled Han Solo anthology movie is following a similar route, adding Woody Harrelson to a cast that includes relative unknown Alden Ehrenreich in the title role.
Harrelson’s 30-plus years in movies and TV has built a strong filmography in action (The Hunger Games), comedy (Zombieland), and thrillers (No Country for Old Men), but science fiction has never been a deep part of his catalog. That’s about to change in a major way, with his roles in both the Han Solo movie and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. He opened up in a new interview on the “mind-blowing” realization of becoming a part of the Star Wars universe.
Speaking to Collider, Harrelson confirmed that his character in the Han Solo movie will be something of a mentor to the titular hero. He could not divulge any further details, quipping that “I don’t think the Force is allowing me to talk about this,” but he did comment on the opportunity to join the Star Wars universe:
“It’s mind-blowing. I can’t really … you know, I never would’ve imagined that I’d get this opportunity so I’m really pumped about it. I really like those directors [Phil Lord and Chris Miller], I think they’re really great. You know let’s face it, almost any movie if the director’s great then the movie has a shot, but if they’re not obviously you’ve got very little chance of a good movie. I just feel great to be a part of that. What a cool thing.”
Harrelson also expressed excitement in the Collider interview about joining the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise, an experience he described as “a bit daunting” initially and “definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever been a part of,” but also “a really cool experience.” It almost feels long overdue for an actor of Harrelson’s talent to lend his distinctively charismatic persona to one science fiction franchise, let alone two of the most iconic in Hollywood history. He’s a good bet to make his presence felt and leave an indelible imprint on the Star Wars franchise with his turn in the Han Solo movie.
Though War for the Planet of the Apes is now in post-production and due out this summer, the Han Solo movie is not slated to be out until 2018, so Star Wars fans will have to wait a long time to find out what Harrelson brings to the franchise. It’s also relatively unknown how Harrelson’s first big-budget sci-fi experience will translate. But he’s been in Hollywood long enough and starred in enough high-concept action movies that the Han Solo movie and War for the Planet of the Apes should only benefit from his presence on-screen.