Ron Howard shares the real story behind him turning down the opportunity to direct 1999's Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The first of the prequel trilogy, the film ended up being directed by lore creator, George Lucas, who would go on to also helm 2002's Attack of The Clones and 2005's Revenge of the Sith.
Despite initially passing on the chance to direct a Star Wars movie, it's as if Howard was destined to helm a film from the famed franchise after he was roped in to finish Solo: A Star Wars Story when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were booted from the project. Despite the production kerfuffle and rumored behind-the-scenes drama, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker delivered the off-shoot featuring Alden Ehrenreich as the young version of the beloved galactic smuggler on time.
Speaking with Total Film (via Metro UK) in light of the upcoming release of Solo, Howard cleared up the confusion regarding his supposed involvement in The Phantom Menace. The director was offered to helm the first Star Wars prequel film but ultimately decided against it, and contrary to rumors, it wasn't because he didn't like the story or the script. "I want to clarify that a little. It was a casual conversation in a car park. It was not like I read a script and weighed it carefully. It was a knee-jerk reaction because I immediately felt like George should do it," he explained. Last year, Howard's letter defending The Phantom Menace and Jake Lloyd's performance (who played young Anakin Skywalker) made the rounds online.
So what changed between then and now that he accepted the gig to direct Solo? Howard chalked it up to Star Wars being less intimidating, adding "Now that other people are broadening the scope and the approach to the movies, it became a more reasonable consideration," which is an interesting way to put it considering the influx of films and TV series from the famed space opera. That being said, it doesn't mean that fans are any less enthused about the franchise. If anything, the fandom continues to be one of the most engaged and involved (sometimes to a fault) in Hollywood, which can be both a good and a bad thing.
Given the early reactions to Solo: A Star Wars Story, it's a wonder what Star Wars: The Phantom Menace would've ended up being if Howard took over the director's chair for that one. It's no secret that Episode I is one of the worst reviewed films from the franchise, which is contrary to what most critics have been saying about the latest Star Wars off-shoot. Considering the filmmaker's practical approach to his latest project compared to the highly CGI-d prequels, there might've been a chance that the latter would've turned out differently, at least in terms of visuals.
Source: Total Film (via Metro UK)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019