Lucasfilm may be close to finding Harrison Ford’s successor as Han Solo, with Hail, Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich said to be the frontrunner to headline Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s young Han Solo anthology movie. But before things got to that point, there was a long and arduous auditioning process that involved looking at 2,500 actors. Recasting such an iconic role was never going to be an easy task, and the studio clearly did not take the easy way out. They understood from the beginning how important it was to get it right.
One of the names that was being considered was Dave Franco, who worked with Lord and Miller on their two Jump Street films. Though he didn’t emerge as one of the finalists, Franco did indeed try out for the part, and much like Miles Teller before him is now opening up on his experience and the project itself.
Speaking with MTV, Franco revealed that his audition was both normal and surreal at the same time, since the magnitude of the film in question drew the interest of many curious to know what was happening:
“I went in one time for Jeanie McCarthy, who I’ve auditioned for a million times before, and we just had a really fun time together in the room. And then because of the nature of what it is, it just explodes everywhere. Everyone’s coming up and being like, ‘Dude what’s going on?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know, you know as much as me!’”
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that there were many inquiring minds, especially since Han Solo is the one modern Star Wars film that’s been met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Ford is so synonymous with the smuggler that it’s going to be difficult for viewers to see anyone else in the role – particularly since the prequel film is set within the same continuity as Han’s other appearances and is not a hard reboot (where there could be leeway for reinterpretation). By now, fans have a good idea of who Han Solo is, and whoever ends up playing the part will have to find the right balance of honoring the roots while putting their own stamp on it. Franco acknowledged that element makes Han Solo difficult, when asked if he did a Ford impression:
“No, I’m not good with impressions or anything like that. I think that’s the reason why it’s so hard to cast this role. Do they want someone to perfectly embody who Harrison Ford is, or do they want to go a completely different route? Do they want someone to look really similar to him? I don’t know, I think they’re struggling with that.”
Arguably, the best route to go is combining the two methods Franco discusses. Obviously, the new actor is going to have to emulate Ford at least somewhat (J.J. Abrams said they should watch Raiders of the Lost Ark), but doing a straight-up impersonation of the legend could come off as disingenuous. It’s imperative that the young Han Solo brings something unique to the table, giving him the freedom to act somewhat naturally instead of being handcuffed to what came before. As long as the essence of Han Solo is captured, it shouldn’t matter that much if the thespian in question doesn’t look or sound exactly like Ford. Audiences have to be willing to let Ehrenreich, Taron Egerton, or someone else provide a new spin on classic material, so Han Solo can still feel fresh and exciting.
Fortunately, the newcomer will have an ace creative team steering him in the right direction. Lord and Miller are masters of turning questionable concepts into entertaining films, and none other than Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan is penning the script (along with his son Jon). The young Han Solo movie was even handpicked by Kasdan, since Han is Kasdan’s favorite character in the franchise. The scribe is retiring from the galaxy far, far away once this film is complete, so he’s going to do everything in his power to make it count and be a worthwhile adventure.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.