John Boyega missed being able to work with Harrison Ford on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Fans were pleasantly surprised when it was announced Ford had signed on for The Force Awakens, as the actor has always had something of a love/hate relationship with the Star Wars franchise. He gratefully acknowledges the impact Han Solo had on his career and the relationships he made on the film, while also making it clear sci-fi and fantasy isn’t really his thing.
It’s also well known Ford campaigned to have Solo killed in Return of the Jedi as a way to up the stakes of the story, but George Lucas ruled that out. When Ford signed back on for The Force Awaken fans were fearful the actor would finally get his wish - a fear that was confirmed when Han was murdered by his son Kylo Ren in the film. His death was an emotional turning point for the movie though and provided his character with a great exit.
Ford shared most of his screentime with newcomers Rey and Finn, and John Boyega revealed on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon that he missed getting to hang out with the star on the set of The Last Jedi:
Oh, Definitely. It's a different change when you're coming on to the next movie and Harrison Ford is not there. Han Solo is not there. It's the reality of Han Solo's death, and it's just mad, but whenever I can see him it's great times.
Boyega also revealed that while everyone else on set kept a respectful distance with the veteran star, he had no trouble shamelessly fanboying out when he met Ford:
Everybody else was really modest and kind and sincere, whereas I was just like 'Can I have a hug, please?'
While it would have been great to see Ford continuing as Han Solo, he probably made the right call to respectfully bow out. Ford appeared to be having a great time reprising Solo in The Force Awakens, which probably came from the knowledge the character had a closed arc in the story and that a new generation of characters would be taking over. The only disappointing thing is that he didn’t get a reunion scene with Luke and Leia, as the story didn’t really allow for it.
That said, Han Solo is too iconic a character to completely retire, so Alden Ehrenreich will be taking on the role next year in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film has already had a famously bumpy ride, what with original director Phil Lord and Chris Miller having been fired by Lucasfilm shortly before filming was complete. Ron Howard then came on to reshoot the vast majority of the film, and by all accounts, the new shoot was a much smoother ride.
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