Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard says Alden Ehrenreich's turn as Han Solo was never about doing an impression of Harrison Ford. Of course, the movie universe forever changed 41 years ago this May 25 when writer-director George Lucas' first Star Wars film was released, introducing moviegoers worldwide to such soon-to-be iconic characters as Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher).
On the verge of stealing the show from Hamill and Fisher, though, was Ford, who breathed an undeniably unique life into Han Solo, a space pirate who would figure more prominently into the lives of Luke and Leia as the original film, as well as the first film trilogy, unfolded.
And while moviegoers got one last hurrah from Ford as Solo in The Force Awakens in 2015, the Star Wars universe wasn't done telling stories about the character just yet. Less than six months after the release of the seventh episode in the Skywalker family saga, Ehrenreich was cast to play Han in the famed Millennium Falcon smuggler's early years, an inherently challenging job that became even more complicated with the ousting of Solo's original co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. But even with the hiring of a new helmer in Howard, it appears that one constant throughout the production was that Ehrenreich's portrayal of Solo was not about doing an imitation of Ford. In a new interview with Empire magazine about Solo, Howard said:
"It was always clear from the beginning, before I was involved, that it was not going to be an impression of Harrison. No one wanted that. Part of Han Solo's character is sort of a vibe and a feel and a body language."
Judging by the film's trailers to date, it appears that Ehrenreich has met the expectation of the filmmakers, as it's clear from the dialogue he's delivered that mimicking Ford was not a mandate. True, Ehrenreich closely resembles Ford – which is almost a prerequisite for the role – but asking him to try to sound like his iconic predecessor would have not only been doing a disservice to the film, it would have unfairly set up the young actor for heaps of criticism.
Instead, it appears from early footage, anyway, that Ehrenreich is doing exactly what is asked of him and, as much as he can, is making the role his own. The actor most certainly seems to possess the swagger that Ford brought to the character, but in a way that's much more subtle than what we're used to seeing. Fans have to remember that Han is a character who was shaped by time and experiences, so it would seem unnatural for Ehrenreich to replicate who fans came to know in the first Star Wars film. Fans and critics will be the final judges of the performance, though, when Solo hits theaters in about five weeks.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019