New details have emerged about Harrison Ford's behind-the-scenes involvement with Solo: A Star Wars Story. The living legend first brought the character of Han Solo to life back in 1977 and became synonymous with the smuggler over the course of four decades. He made his final appearance in the galaxy far, far away in 2015's The Force Awakens, but Lucasfilm is going back in time to tell another tale about the scoundrel. Their next project on deck is Ron Howard's prequel, which details Han's origins as a scrappy criminal trying to make a name for himself. Alden Ehrenreich has the monumental task of following Ford's footsteps.
Though Ford is not officially part of the Solo crew, he proved to be a valuable voice for the film's creative team to lean on. Shortly before the spinoff started production last year, Ehrenreich met with Ford for lunch to discuss the role and the best way to approach it. As it turns out, the young actor wasn't the only one Ford took under his wing. Even Howard needed some pointers from the iconic actor when he took over for the fired Phil Lord and Chris Miller last summer, which Ford was happy to provide.
As part of EW's continuing coverage during Solo Week, there was a piece detailing Ford's role as an aide to both Ehrenreich and Howard. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy shed light on how Ford helped his successor along, which came into play during filming:
"What [Ford] did so beautifully for Alden was he talked a lot about what he remembered when he first read Star Wars, and what George [Lucas] had done with Han. Who the character was and the conversations he had for so many years with George about how that character developed. He gave Alden that kind of insight which was invaluable. There were several times in the course of making the movie where Alden would actually recount some of the things that Harrison had pointed out. I think that was really, really helpful to him.”
Ehrenreich arguably has the toughest job of anyone who's led one of the new era Star Wars films, as he has to find a way to make the part his own while also staying true to Ford's interpretation. While some fans are reserving judgment for the finished film, the early returns from the teaser trailer are encouraging, illustrating Ehrenreich has what it takes to channel the spirit of the character. It's great the actor kept Ford's words in mind, and his take should be enjoyable to watch, especially since Howard also learned a lot from Ford. Said the filmmaker:
"Harrison’s a very thoughtful actor and an artist, and I wanted to know what he learned about the character. He said that Han is always torn between that sense that he was, in a way, an orphan, and therefore both yearned for connection with people and struggled with it at the same time. I thought that was pretty interesting.”
It should be comforting for longtime fans to hear Ford was so readily available to help the Solo team along. He had as much understanding of who the character is as George Lucas and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, so his discussions with Ehrenreich and Howard were most likely very enlightening and helped a great deal. As Kennedy said, Ford was never going to "dictate" the direction of the film, but he seems very pleased with the way it turned out. His review of Kasdan's Solo script was a "thumbs-up," and that's as meaningful a seal of approval as any. Despite all the production woes, the prequel looks like it's in solid shape.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019