As Rogue One: A Star Wars Story nears its theatrical premiere in December 2016 and Star Wars: Episode VIII makes its way through post, another film from the galaxy far, far away is gearing up to start production. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are handling pre-production responsibilities for the young Han Solo anthology film, currently looking for the movie’s female lead. Principal photography is set to begin in January 2017, so they still have some time to put the final pieces in place.
The biggest question about Han Solo, of course, was who would be tasked with taking over for the legend Harrison Ford as everyone’s favorite scoundrel. That job falls to Hail, Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich, who landed the part after literally thousands of actors tried out. It wasn’t an easy process for anyone involved, and now Lord and Miller have discussed just how difficult Ehrenreich’s audition was.
Speaking to USA Today, the filmmakers touched on their upcoming Star Wars installment and why Ehrenreich was the right man for the job:
“That guy pretty much went through an audition pentathlon; it was like an acting steeplechase. He went against a lot of very strong competitors and was very consistently the guy from minute one. He was the first person who auditioned out of thousands, and just out of the box, made you believe that someday he’d grow into the character we know.”
There’s obviously a tremendous amount of pressure on Ehrenreich to deliver in the role, since Han Solo is without question one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Over the years, Ford has become synonymous with the scruffy-looking nerf herder and turned in one of his best performances in years during last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It won’t be easy for anyone to accept someone else playing the Millennium Falcon captain. The comparison to Star Trek‘s Kelvin Timeline is apt, but Ford’s iteration is still fresh in our minds and casts a looming shadow over Ehrenreich. He has to find a way to honor what’s come before, but also make Han Solo his own.
With all that in mind, it isn’t surprising that Lord and Miller put their star through an “audition pentathlon.” It was paramount that they left no stone unturned and make 100 percent sure that they had the best fit. The rigorous practice may seem a bit extreme, but when working with such an iconic character that millions of viewers are familiar with, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Lucasfilm is rumored to be developing a trilogy featuring the young Han Solo, so it’s important that the next actor in line makes a great first impression. Ehrenreich is very talented, so he should be up for the challenge.
With filming beginning soon, the hope is that more official details are revealed shortly. The entire supporting cast – including the new Lando Calrissian – needs to be rounded out, and there have been no rumors thus far about a potential villain in the spinoff. Lucasfilm has assembled a great team behind the camera to deliver Han Solo (Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon are writing the script), so things are looking up for the second Star Wars standalone.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.