What Happened With Lord and Miller
Lucasfilm's infamous director problems reached a new level of bizarre with the Lord and Miller fiasco, as the creative differences that plagued the production apparently didn't reach a tipping point until four months into filming. The situation is something unprecedented in modern Hollywood, causing some to wonder what went down on-set. Lord and Miller seemed like the perfect pair to tackle one of the Star Wars anthology films, which were sold to audiences as projects that could break from the mold of the classic episodes by experimenting with different styles and tones. Dismissing them to bring in an old veteran like Howard made it seem like Lucasfilm was shifting their mentality to maintain that Star Wars-y feel. Of course, The Last Jedi is living proof Kennedy is willing to take risks, and the Solo debacle is a lot more complicated than old vs. new school.
There's no denying Lord and Miller are gifted filmmakers and their track record speaks for itself. However, the kinds of movies they were directing before Solo (meta action comedies, animated family films) aren't the types that one would normally associate with future Star Wars directors. A case can be made they were a little in over their heads with the big scope, as they frequently got less coverage than what Kennedy was expecting on a daily basis and had difficulties sticking to the script. Lord and Miller are known for their improvisational style, and they were encouraging improv while filming, which reportedly started to alter the story Kasdan came up with. Since the two remained on Solo until June, Kennedy obviously did all she could to stick with them, but ultimately decided to pursue a different direction. Howard, an experienced helmsman with a long filmography spanning multiple genres, was deemed the better fit.
Alden Ehrenreich's Performance
Around the time Lord and Miller were let go, Solo garnered more unwanted attention when it was reported Lucasfilm had hired an acting coach for new Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich. The studio apparently was "not entirely satisfied" with the youngster's performance and dedicated some resources to help him improve. More so than any other new Star Wars lead, Ehrenreich is going to be under the microscope, as he'll inevitably be compared to Ford. It's beyond pertinent to make sure his turn is on point, or else the entire film could be derailed. Lucasfilm could be using Solo as a springboard for another trilogy, only adding importance to Ehrenreich's portrayal. But acting coaches are fairly standard on films, and concern about Ehrenreich may be exaggerated.
Ehrenreich survived a grueling audition process that saw no fewer than 2,500 thespians try out for the part. That alone speaks to his talent, never mind his previous performances in films like Hail, Caesar!. Everyone involved with Solo knew they had to find the best actor for the job, and they all agreed Ehrenreich was it. One of the strongest attributes of the new Star Wars movies is casting, so they've earned our trust on that front. The acting coach could be attributed more to Lord and Miller's direction than Ehrenreich himself. Rumors suggested Lord and Miller's Solo leaned closer to Ace Ventura than Han, which definitely would have rubbed fans the wrong way. The coach could also simply be helping Ehrenreich perfect Ford-esque mannerisms and dialect so Solo is in line with the original trilogy. Though Ehrenreich will be able to make the part his own, he still has to find a blend of the previous movies, which is tough for anyone. This isn't to say he's incapable of giving a bad performance, but there are other things to consider before people jump to that point.
Solo is in a fascinating position right now and soon we'll find out which side of film history it will fall on. Several movies (including multiple Star Wars entries) went through hell to get to the big screen and ultimately turned out fine. Of course, the aura of Justice League still lingers, illustrating what can happen when troubled productions go wrong. Howard admittedly has a rather erratic résumé, but when he's working with a solid script, he can crank out one of the best movies of the year. He's also one of the best directors Lucasfilm could have gotten on short notice. Howard isn't a filmmaker-for-hire that's a studio yes man. He's a respected industry figure with Oscars on his mantle and several quality productions to his name. With any luck, he was able to save Solo and continue the Star Wars renaissance on a high note.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019