Star Wars fandom wasn't initially enamored with the idea of a Han Solo origin film, but that didn't stop them from being shocked and surprised by the news that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were being unceremoniously removed from the project after several months of shooting. While it wasn't the first bit of behind the scenes drama in the newly relaunched franchise - Josh Trank's removal from the Boba Fett spin-off, Harrison Ford breaking his leg under the Millennium Falcon's ramp, and weeks of Rogue One reshoots come to mind - the situation with the united Han Solo movie was different than anything most movie fans had ever seen.
Lucasfilm was quick to bring in veteran director Ron Howard to continue production with a hand wave, saying "move along, move along," and attention was quickly diverted to Rian Johnson's incoming The Last Jedi and the much more familiar storyline it's set to continue. Meanwhile, Ron Howard got to work, breaking with the tradition of modern Star Wars directors, began regularly posting set images and teases to social media, showing fans that there's nothing to worry about and everything's under control. Situation normal. But as time goes on and more and more set pictures arrive, the question continues to grow: how much of the Han Solo movie is Ron Howard reshooting?
As with anything of this nature, it's not an easy question to answer, and the full behind the scenes story won't be available to the public for some years, if ever, but we do have enough puzzle pieces to get a little clearer picture of what's going on behind the scenes and just what we can ultimately expect from this movie.
What's Being Changed?
In the aftermath of Lord and Miller's departure, a flurry of stories came forward revealing a little more of the behind the scenes situation. While there were a multitude of issues cited, there were enough common threads between each account to get an idea of what elements of the movie needed actual fixing. Looking at each of these issues is the first step to knowing how much needed to be redone in total.
Tone and Characterization
One of the most interesting reports about the production woes was regarding Alden Erenreich's performance as Han Solo. Given, recreating such an iconic character was never going to be easy for any actor, but Erenreich has some solid past performances under his belt, so it should be no big deal for him. It doesn't sound like that's how things were going, though. Reportedly Lucasfilm had to hire an acting coach to help him give a portrayal more in line with the Han we know and love. However, it turns out it might not have been Alden's acting, but the direction he was receiving that was problematic. Some reports said his performance was more in line with Ace Ventura than Han Solo, and that's a mark so far off target it's hard to imagine he got there without being told to play it that way.
Considering Lord and Miller were taking a more comedic approach than Lucasfilm wanted, that definitely seems to be the case, but, either way, if Erenreich was truly deliering an Ace Ventura level performance, or, frankly, anything in that ballpark, then it's a good bet that the majority of his dialogue would need to be reshot. An extreme take like that is hard to edit around simply by shooting a few alternate takes.
Adherence to the Script
That particular performance was likely arrived at due to the improv-heavy style Lord & Miller are known for, but their venture's off the script in the Han Solo movie supposedly became so extreme that they began to affect the actual plot of the movie. As a producer on the film, Lawrence Kasdan was reportedly very specific that he wants things to be done as they are on the page, and while one of the most famous lines of one of Kasdan's most famous movies - Han Solo's "I know" in The Empire Strikes Back - was an improvised line, it's one that serves the version of the character he wrote and it doesn't derail the plot in any way.
Since this disagreement led to Lord and Miller being kicked off the project, it can only be assumed that this type of improvisation was the rule, not the exception, meaning a major portion of the dialogue would have to be redone. Fortunately, there's likely a lot of overlap between this problem and the problem of Han Solo's portrayal, but it still impacts the extent to which the movie need to be reshot. If a given scene was entirely off script then it may need to be reshot start to finish in order to get it back on track and simple additional takes won't do.
Not Enough Camera Angles
Another Lucasfilm mandate Lord and Miller were bucking was the desire to have a certain number of camera angles for each scene. It's not clear if this is a normal Lucasfilm expectation or if it's something they were requesting of Lord and Miller specifically in order to make sure they had as much footage as possible to work with, but either way, it doesn't sound like the duo paid any heed to the desire and would take well under the assigned shots, with the specific example cited being a request for 12-15 angles and they provided 3. Fortunately, this is unlikely to be a major source of reshoots on its own since they're already reshooting a significant chunk of the movie, but it's just one more issue that needs to be addressed.
There's a lot of hypotheticals in all this, but without clear insight into the behind the scenes situation, which we won't get for years - if ever - the big tell about the significance is that Lord and Miller were taken off the project entirely. Whatever the situation was, it was determined that they were actually a roadblock to the movie and should be taken off and taken off as early as possible - ensuring that they were ineligible for any DGA protected influence on the creative process.
Rogue One also underwent significant reshoots and Tony Gilroy was brought in to assist Gareth Edwards with the process, but Edwards was cooperative and ultimately the movie was a critical and financial success. We can only assume that the situation with Lord and Miller was so dire that that same scenario wouldn't have worked, underlining the severity of the issues outlined above and the necessity of bringing in a reliable veteran like Ron Howard to not just wrap up the project and get it across the finish line, but go back and correct the numerous issues with Lord and Miller's footage.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019