When it comes to playing Han Solo, you have to go to the source — and that source is the one and only Harrison Ford. We know that star Alden Ehrenreich had lunch with Ford, but when it comes to the details of what they spoke about, Ehrenreich kept his lips sealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“’Tell them I told you everything you needed to know, and that you can’t tell anyone.’”
That’s what Ford said to tell people about their meeting, and when pressed for details, there was no way Ehrenreich was going to go against the will of Ford.
“I gotta stick to my orders from the man himself,” Ehrenreich says.
The meeting was about what Kathleen Kennedy expected from the two of them. She’s known Ford since Raiders of the Lost Ark, and when she asked Ford about the meeting, she wasn’t surprised by his report.
“It was perfect, classic Harrison,” Kennedy says, breaking into his signature low-key grumble. “‘Good kid, good kid. Really good kid.’ … I think being who is Harrison is, there is no way he would step into the middle of this and start trying to dictate.”
While Ford didn’t dictate or try to control anything behind the scenes, he did give Ehrenreich some great pointers about how he should approach this character.
“What [Ford] did so beautifully for Alden was he talked a lot about what he remembered when he first read Star Wars, and what George had done with Han. Who the character was and the conversations he had for so many years with George about how that character developed,” Kennedy says. “He gave Alden that kind of insight which was invaluable. There were several times in the course of making the movie where Alden would actually recount some of the things that Harrison had pointed out. I think that was really, really helpful to him.”
Director Ron Howard kind of walked into a mess of a movie, and he turned to Ford for guidance. Despite the fact that Ford seems to have had nothing but contempt for Star Wars for years, he had done some thinking about the character.
“Harrison’s a very thoughtful actor and an artist, and I wanted to know what he learned about the character,” Howard says. “He said that Han is always torn between that sense that he was, in a way, an orphan, and therefore both yearned for connection with people and struggled with it at the same time. I thought that was pretty interesting.”
Howard talked about making sure that Han’s history came out in the way he acted. Ford famously said that Han is “dumb as a stump” and that he wishes the character would have died in the original trilogy. However, the past of the character does influence the future, and we’re going to see how that works out in this movie.
“Han has survived and proven that he can survive, but he’s never sure he’s as quite as smart as he needs to be,” Howard said, recalling their conversation. “Change that. He’s not really ‘smart.’ That’s not the word he used. Han’s not as on top of it as he needs to be. So he wants to give the appearance of [control], but in fact, he’s often scrambling. I think Harrison played that beautifully, and Alden and I talked about both of those ideas a lot.”
It sounds like everyone has gone into this movie giving a lot of thought to this character and how they are going to tell his story. Even Ford, who might act like he wants nothing to do with any of this, stepped in to help a young actor trying to fill impossible shoes.
Summary: Han Solo and Chewbacca’s adventures before joining the Rebellion, including their early encounters with Lando Calrissian.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, directed by Ron Howard, stars Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, and Thandie Newton. It will be released May 25th.