For Star Wars fans Kylo Ren killing his father Han Solo in The Force Awakens was a painful moment. Fortunately, we only had to wait two years to see our beloved Han again. Solo: A Star Wars Story provides viewers with the resurrection of the popular hero. Well, sort of.
The story is the prequel to the famous three decades old franchise. It focuses on Han and provides fans with insight into the events that impacted him before the original series. In addition, the movie introduces new characters like L3-37 as well as brings back loved ones like Lando and Chewbacca.
Last Saturday, May 12, 2018, the cast and creators held a press junket to discuss the movie. The event took place at the Pasadena Convention Center and was moderated by Anthony Cardoni host of The Star Wars Show.
Before the conference, we had some time to check out the some of the costumes worn by the cast and merchandise associated with the movie. I will be posting a separate post on some of the fun items hitting the stores. But the best part was undoubtedly the visit on the replica of Millennium Falcon. It included photo opps in the lounge area, Lando’s bar, and the famous cockpit. After all who doesn’t want to meet Chewbacca?
But the main event was definitely meeting the film’s talent. The press conference started with director Ron Howard known for playing Richie Cunnigham in Happy Days and directing many successful feature films like Cocoon, Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind.
Howard started off mentioning he felt honored to be chosen to direct a Star Wars movie.” I could tell from the moment it was announced, Ron, don’t f*** this up.‘..the level of anticipation is really unlike anything I’ve done…. the fans care. And they should care.’
His perspective of Solo
” I immediately said, I’m going to treat this like it’s a true story. I’ve done a lot of true stories. I go for the drama, the excitement of the narrative, of the story and then I let the technical advisors tell me, you know, where else it could go or what I might be overlooking.”… this is a little bit different than the other movies. It ’s this one guy’s adventure story. In some ways it’s kind of similar to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it is a single hero’s journey, and there are a lot of twists and turns. “I’m very excited about the character relationships because it was… all about what impact all of these characters are going to have on this young Han Solo.”
His brother and L3
As it turns out, Clint Howard had collaborated on seventeen films with his brother Ron, including Ron’s first movie called Old Paint when Clint was ten.
When asked about finding a suitable role in the movie for his brother Ron replied “…I sat down with Larry and Jon, and we started talking about this scene with L3 ( where) L3 needs somebody to be pissed off at. And I said, My brother! He is kind of easy to be pissed off at. And he’s kind of funny when he’s doing it. I love working with him. ”
The Han Solo appeal
Next, we heard from the screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan. Lawrence Kasdan is an American screenwriter, director, and producer best known for The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. His son Jonathan is a prolific actor and screenwriter. In Solo: A StarWars Story the father-son duo manages to portray Solo as a flawed hero that makes the wrong decisions for all the right reasons.
LK“…(Han is ) a kind of character that I have loved always.. a character who’s reckless, cynical, doesn’t trust anybody, he just does things that he shouldn’t do, and he gets in over his head instantly.”
JK “…A big part of what drives the movie for us is that he is centrally conflicted. At his core, there is the conflict, and it’s beautifully laid out in The New Hope, between his ideals and his desires.
The young Hans Solo
The movie’s main character Han is played by Alden Ehrenreich. He does such a good job of channeling Han that one forgets he’s not the original one less than ten minutes into the movie.
Alden was first discovered at a friend’s Bat Mitzvah reception by famous Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. He made his acting debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro and had received praise for his roles in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and the Coen brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!
When asked how he prepared for the role he mentioned he watched the original movies very early on and tried to absorb as much as he could.
Getting Harrison Ford’s approval
“… Right before we started shooting, I wanted to talk to Harrison, just to kind of pay respect and have him give us the blessings… for the film. He was really encouraging and supportive, and then we went off, shot the film….Today I was doing an interview, and they were talking about, you know, is there anything else you’d like to ask him? He was behind me. And he’s so effusive about the movie. It meant so much to me to have him genuinely love it!”
Claiming ownership of the Millennium Falcon
“…For me it was, it was two things — one, you get in, and you can’t believe you’re in it and it’s so surreal. And then, a couple of months into shooting in it, you’re inside of it, and you’re flying it. You know where the buttons are. You know how the chair feels, you feel like, okay, this is kind of like my ship now.”
When Lando met Solo
In the movie, Han isn’t the only character that is recast as a younger version of himself. Donald Glover plays the role of the fashion-obsessed Lando Calrissian originally launched by Billy Dee Williams. In this movie, they first meet and become fast frenemies. As we know from the other films, he later chooses to side with Han becoming one of the franchise’s most loved characters. Glover an accomplished actor, writer, director, record producer, singer, songwriter, and DJ brings plenty of attitude and sass to the role.
“When I heard they were making the (movie), I told my agent, I have to be Lando.’ And he was like: ‘I hear you. I don’t like your odds.’That was exactly what I needed to hear. I auditioned like it was the only role I wanted in the world. It was.”
His secret love of capes
“…I wasn’t able to bring any capes home with me. But the fur cape I had, they had extra material, and they made a pillow out of it for me. And now I have a pillow that I try and wear as a cape…”
Solo’s love interest
Emilia Clarke best known as Daenerys Targaryen in the HBO series Game of Thrones plays Qi’ra, Solo’s femme fatale love interest. Her relationship with Han impacts his development as a hero, but it is unclear to what extent. When asked about her role in the press conference she mentioned how playing an enigmatic character proved difficult for her when it came to promoting the movie.
“Yeah, playing mysterious is quite difficult I’ve got to be honest. We meet her quite early on with Han, and then they’re separated for whatever reason, and when we find her again, she seems to have lived… a pretty dark life in that time…So when you re-find her, you can’t quite figure out what it is that’s happened to her in the time that you haven’t been with her and who it is that she is now and I think that’s a question that kind of keeps coming up throughout the movie.”
The rest of the cast
The lively conference had its funny moments! Finnish actor and ex-basketball player Joonas Suotamo cast as Chewbacca let out a Wookie call. He also mentioned how his fiancée watched him transform from ‘ living with his mom to Chewbacca.’
English actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge voices L3-37 Lando ’s self-made droid. She called her character “…fearless, uncensored, and funny with an agenda bigger than the sum of her parts. She concluding by stating that ” It’s great to play a droid with a message.”
Both Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany relayed how they enjoyed playing their well-written characters. Harrelson, a critically acclaimed actor, plays the role of the scoundrel Tobias Beckett ’a scoundrel while Paul Bettany portrays the evil Dryden Vos a total opposite from his part as Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The talented Thandie Newton who starred in Beloved and The Pursuit of Happyness, plays Val, Beckett’s partner. She honed on the camaraderie that existed among the crew and actors during the filming.
Why Solo is different than other Star Wars movies
LK ” … It happens to be a Star Wars story, but first, we were trying to tell a story that would keep you interested. You meet these people, and you say, well, that’s a great person, and now they’re meeting a great person. And they’re going to be in a lot of trouble together…”
JK “… We approached the (project) in terms of a genre movie …A character that comes out of a great tradition of Bogart and McQueen characters. But at its base, it’s trying to be its best version of a western, or a crime movie. Star Wars so often, and almost really up until this moment has been a very classic story of the dark and the light, the good and evil. We saw this as an opportunity to really make a character movie, where every character has some ambiguity to him.”
Disclaimer: Special thanks to Walt Disney Pictures for hosting us on the press junket event. Our opinions are own and cannot be influenced in any way.
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