It goes without saying that Solo: A Star Wars Story is a production that’s gone through some fascinating trials and tribulations. And, unlike the changes and delays that have been swept under the rug for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One, Solo may be the first of the new Star Wars films to have noticeable alterations. An actor who worked on the project spoke frankly (and anonymously) about things they observed during their four months on the Solo set.
In a secretive chat with Vulture, the actor outlined some of the sweeping changes that hit Solo– and what necessitated them. And they also share some intriguing insight into what star Alden Ehrenreich was forced to work on when Lucasfilm stepped in to overhaul the movie by bringing in a new director and an acting coach for their untested lead.
On Lord and Miller…
When it comes to director Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the actor describes them as being out of their depth. The anonymous actor seems to feel like it was just a mismatch to have two directors who are better at off-beat, genre-skewering comedies at the helm of a Star Wars movie.
“Phil and Chris are good directors, but they weren’t prepared for Star Wars,” he said. He highlighted the duo’s penchant for doing nearly 30 takes of every scene, with little direction outside of vague requests for the actors to do it “differently” between takes. “After the 25th take, the actors are looking at each other like, ‘This is getting weird.’ [Lord and Miller] seemed a bit out of control. They definitely felt the pressure; with one of these movies, there are so many people on top of you all the time. The first assistant director was really experienced and had to step in to help them direct a lot of scenes.”
On Ron Howard Coming To The Rescue…
“When he came on, he took control and you could feel it,” the actor told Vulture. “He got respect immediately. He’s really confident. A really easy guy to work with.” The veteran filmmaker apparently brought a sense of calm, confident, efficiency to the set. Gone were the days of 30ish takes per scene, replaced by two or three takes of laser-focused direction before moving onto the next thing.
It should be noted that nothing new was added. On the contrary, the script remained the same. It was just the direction that changed, which meant Howard literally reshot and remade the bulk of what Lord and Miller had done.
“It’s exactly the same script. They’re filming exactly the same things. There’s nothing new,” the actor said. “[Lord and Miller] used whole sets. But Ron is just using parts from those sets. I guess they’re not shooting wide angle. Maybe to save money.”
They also claim that Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy seemed dissatisfied with the performance they were coaxing from Ehrenreich. Which facilitated an acting coach to come onboard to help re-calibrate the actor’s performance.
Be More Like Harrison!
While it’s been a frequent topic on The Revengers: The Official Movie & TV Podcast of Revenge of The Fans, whether or not Ehrenreich should be given free rein to make the character his own or if he should be channeling Ford since this film is a direct prequel and it’d be a canon issue to have him seem drastically different here, it sounds like Lucasfilm is very clear on this issue:
They want him to play a younger version of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo.
“Trying to mimic Harrison Ford is really tough,” Vulture’s source told them. But this desire led to the studio bringing in an acting coach with the specific intention of reshaping the actor’s performance to be more like the established lovable scoundrel of old. “Lucasfilm wanted something very specific: Copying someone else. Alden’s not a bad actor — just not good enough.”
As for whether or not Ehrenreich pulled it off, their source said, “You could see his acting became more relaxed. He became more Harrison-like. The coach helped!”
It should be noted that a rep for Lord and Miller claims the information presented in this report is “completely inaccurate,” and who knows what selfish reasons this unnamed actor may have for wanting to divulge these details? It sounds like they may have an axe to grind, and so these comments should be taken with some slight trepidation about their honesty.
Still, it’s interesting to think about this stuff. Especially the whole “We want you to be more like Harrison Ford” aspect of things, since that’s something audiences will definitely pick up on. Han Solo, as played by Ford, has been a pop culture icon for over 40 years. Audiences have particular views and expectations when it comes to this scruffy-looking nerf herder and, since this isn’t a reboot or a remake- but rather an expanded prologue for an established character in the Star Wars galaxy- maybe it’s not the worst idea to have him honor Ford’s performance.
What do you think?
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives in theaters on May 25.