Following on from the mega-success of Rogue One, the next Star Wars Anthology will expand on another core part of the original trilogy mythos: the origin of Han Solo. Because he's such an icon, much of the discussion around the still untitled Han Solo standalone has focused on Alden Ehrenreich's young version of the smuggler and his relationship with pre-existing characters Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).
But as the recent cast photo attested, there's more to the story than just that; there's Emilia Clarke as the potential love interest, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the series' first female droid and, most excitingly, Woody Harrelson as a character described as Han's mentor. There's been a lot of speculation about the latter, specifically whether he's playing Legends character Garris Shrike; in an interview at Sundance, Harrelson seemed to suggest he was, but that's since been denied. Now we have further word on who he might be playing from the horse's mouth.
While appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote live-movie event Lost in London, Harrelson was asked about his role in Han Solo and, while keeping mostly quiet about the secretive project, did reveal that name of his character and the nature of the role:
"Yeah, I play a guy named Beckett who is kind of a criminal and a mentor to Han [...] I’ll be there until the end of July."
That would seem to put all the Garris Shrike discussion to bed - unsurprisingly given that the previous "confirmation" was more about his position as Solo's mentor than the name itself. Shrike was a minor player in the now non-canon Expanded Universe, appearing in The Paradise Snare, the first of the A. C. Crispin's Han Solo novel trilogy. Plucking an orphaned Han from the streets of Corellia, Garris trained him up to be a smuggler only for his ward to run away, eventually leading to his accidental death.
It's a strong origin and - like how some other elements from the EU have been used in the new movies, such as the notion of Han and Leia's son turning to the Dark Side - could wind up being part of the film; the death of an estranged mentor shaping the scoundrel we know would be a fitting arc for the film. That said, the name change definitely suggests there's going to be some divergence from Han's original backstory.
Harrelson also revealed he's going to be shooting the film until July, which considering he's set to begin filming this month means he's got four months on set. So whatever Beckett's full role in the story, it's going to be a prominent one.
Source: Jimmy Fallon
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019