Paul Bettany says he landed his dream role in Solo: A Star Wars Story with one lucky text. The UK actor - who is a longtime Star Wars fan - sent a humorous message to Ron Howard after he was announced as the new director. It paid off and secured him the coveted role of Dryden Vos, the galactic gangster who Han eventually has to confront. It means that Bettany is now in the enviable position of being an important part of both the Star Wars franchise and the MCU.
Solo has had a troubled journey to the big screen to say the least, with Bettany's casting being linked to that. The plot focuses on the early life of the galaxy's most infamous smuggler and one of his criminal capers, as well as the iconic first encounter with Chewbacca obviously. But the film originally had LEGO Movie and Jump Street duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller helming the action. When it was merely weeks away from wrapping, the duo were fired by the studio for reportedly taking too many risks. Experienced filmmaker Howard then sat in the director's chair and adopted a few changes. One of these decisions involved re-casting the part of Dryden Vos, up until then a CG-creation described as "half-lion" and played by Michael K. Williams. Williams was no longer able to take part in re-shoots due to scheduling conflicts, and the character was re-written and open to new casting.
Despite being the voice of A.I. Jarvis and eventually Vision in the MCU, Bettany is also a huge fan of Star Wars, even saying that "it was pretty instrumental in making me want to become an actor." So when he become aware of Howard's involvement in the production, he sent the director one simple text in hope of a part. Speaking to Uproxx, he revealed the full message, which was simply this:
“Hey, Ron, have you ever spent long winter evenings like I have wondering why I’m not in the Star Wars franchise?”
Howard apparently responded with: "LOL. Let me get back to you." From this, Bettany got news of his casting pretty quickly and found himself flying to London within two weeks of sending his text. Despite all the trouble that occurred prior to his arrival on set, the actor says that his experience filming was wholly positive and that it was "really an incredibly happy set." He's also quick to praise Howard, calling him a "brilliant director and an incredibly fast shooter," as well as being "impossible to hate." As far as comparing Solo to his time spent on Avengers: Infinity War, Bettany has previously said that the MCU movie was much more secretive to film, with lockdowns on the script.
Bettany is obviously very pleased with the final version of the movie and to have been involved. The other decisions that Howard made when he was appointed as director also seemed to have resulted in a positive outcome. Harrison Ford has praised the film and the performance of Alden Ehrenreich, and says that he "adores" the story. Although early reviews for Solo haven't been stellar, they have been mostly positive and certainly not terrible. We'll see how it fares at the box office when Solo: A Star Wars Story opens later this week.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019