UPDATE: Deadline has alleged that Bettany isn't replacing Williams, saying he is a totally different, human character (Williams was going to be part-CGI). The original article follows.
Paul Bettany has been tapped by director Ron Howard to replace Michael K. Williams in the young Han Solo movie. It's been a roller coaster ride for the second Star Wars anthology movie since it began earlier this year, hitting a low with the firing of co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the production earlier this summer, and quickly getting back on track with the hiring of veteran Lucasfilm actor and director Howard to finish principal photography on the movie, as well as its reshoots.
With only occasional tweets from Howard from the set to let fans know that shooting on the film was status quo, the production has largely avoided any major hiccups during his tenure on the project, until word surfaced that all of Williams' scenes have been cut from the film because the actor would not be available for reshoots. As it turns out, all of Williams' scenes were filmed before Howard came on board, and due to his prior commitments to the film The Red Sea Diving Resort and the Sundance TV series Hap and Leonard, the actor was forced to drop out of the project.
Following a cryptic tweet that featured Howard and Bettany – as well as a report from Slashfilm that Bettany was replacing Williams in the film – Variety has confirmed that the helmer is indeed reuniting with his former collaborator. Howard previously directed Bettany in his Best Picture Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind, and the first of his Da Vinci Code movies. Howard alluded to his working relationship with Bettany in a tweet Friday afternoon:
It's my third opportunity to work with Paul. He's a blast & so talented https://t.co/8AQn0jFzOh
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 1, 2017
While Howard confirmed Bettany has joined the movie, it's important to point out that he may not necessarily be playing the exact role that Williams left vacant (Slashfilm claims Bettany joining Han Solo is a recasting move). Clearly the character – whether it was in the iteration that Williams created or a different version of it that Bettany's been hired to play – is pivotal to the plot of Han Solo, otherwise Howard wouldn't have taken the initiative to fill the void. Since the production has largely operated under a shroud of secrecy, it may be a while before fans learn just exactly the function of Bettany's character in the film.
Considering the circumstances, Bettany is a great hire for the production, and for more than one reason. He's familiar to Disney for his work as Vision on the Avengers movies, and there's no question that fans have come to discover the actor's talents because of the monstrous success of the films.
Perhaps more important though, is that Bettany has already established a solid working relationship with Howard, otherwise the director wouldn't have been so quick to call on the actor since he realizes his collaborators abilities. At this juncture in the production, it would be unreasonable to expect Bettany will be a major role in Han Solo, but more of clutch player in a production that needs all the positive developments it can get.
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