Did They Choose The Right Han Solo?
As of yesterday, Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally showing in theaters in the Philippines. And after last December's The Last Jedi, it's good to get another fix of Star Wars.
But the burning concern surrounding the movie is about its star, Han Solo himself: Did the production pick the right person to play the iconic space scoundrel? Many seemed to disagree with the decision to cast Alden Ehrenreich, mostly citing the tenuous resemblance to Harrison Ford. It'd be difficult, after all, for audiences to channel their love for such a legendary character into an actor who looks only very slightly like him. Then there were the reports that Lucasfilm was "not entirely satisfied" with Ehrenreich's portrayal, so the doubts continued to simmer.
Ultimately, however, even producer Kathleen Kennedy admits and accepts that Ehrenreich is a different Han Solo. “Harrison Ford is so unique and has embodied the character for so many years that they were gigantic shoes to fill. We weren’t looking for someone who looked like Harrison; we didn’t want an impersonation of him nor his Han Solo. We wanted an actor who could find those traits that are so lovable, so roguish, about Han Solo.”
Ehrenreich was one of the very first actors the filmmakers saw. He was not widely known to mainstream audiences, but he's proven his acting chops with scene-stealing performances in Hail, Caesar!, Blue Jasmine and Rules Don’t Apply. And for the most part, he brought those guns to Solo. Kennedy says, “Alden tapped into the things that make the character special but without imitating Harrison. He captured the essence, that maverick spirit. He was funny and charming, cool and handsome. He had all those qualities, but he also had that hidden vulnerability specific to Han. It was a very intuitive portrayal.”
Director Ron Howard himself admits the same: Ehrenreich's Han Solo is not Ford's Han Solo. But he did bring something new to the character. “Alden is thoughtful. He’s an artist, and he’s very passionate about his work on a very pure level. He has thrown himself into creating this character, not as an imitation of Harrison but understanding the connection between Harrison, the Han Solo character and his own instincts that can connect him to the character in similar ways.”
As a fan of the Star Wars films, Ehrenreich was thrilled when he learned he had the role. “It’s really special to be part of a franchise that has so much heart and that means so much to people, and to play such a multi-dimensional character in the Star Wars universe.”
Most who've seen the Solo: A Star Wars Story could agree that Ehrenreich pulled through for the most part. It was clear that he was interpreting the character in a new way—which did make it a little difficult to bridge this Star Wars Story's Han emotionally to the Han of the original trilogy. But the character—his cockiness and impulsiveness, in particular—remains intact throughout.
Still, it's interesting to imagine what kind of movie Solo would have turned out to be if the production did choose to cast someone who could draw closer to Harrison Ford's Han Solo. Perhaps someone like:
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in Philippine cinemas Wednesday, May 23.