Alden Ehrenreich’s journey to becoming Han Solo
1. He got the role almost immediately
Former directors of the film Phil Lord and Chris Miller — loved for their direction in 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie — knew that the 28-year-old American actor could embody a young Han Solo since his first screen test. Ehrenreich was the very first actor to audition for the highly coveted role, one out of close to 3000 people. "Alden, remarkably, remained the person to beat from day one. We brought him in many times, pushed him, tried to test his range, and he was always up for it and brought something new, with a great sense of humour," said Miller in an interview. One of the deciding factors that led Ehrenreich to be cast as the space smuggler? His second screen test conversing with a dog puppet machine, which acted as a stand-in for Solo's partner-in-crime, Chewbacca.
2. He received backlash from Star Wars fans after he was cast as Han Solo
Acting legend Harrison Ford was always who fans were familiar with since the beginning of the franchise in 1977, so to put a new face on their beloved scruffy-looking nerf herder was not easy. Fans and critics took to social media to give Ehrenreich a merciless lashing, worrying that he couldn't encapsulate Solo's wit and charisma. The actor paid no attention to the haters, and did all he could by watching all the Star Wars movies to study his character and story. "I avoided it like the plague. It can be so destructive, and it's not really relevant to what we're doing," he said.
3. The departure of Lord and Miller
The entire Star Wars fandom was 'shook' when it was announced that the duo got fired from Lucasfilm for having differences with its president, Kathleen Kennedy, and replacing them with Ron Howard. It was more so for Ehrenreich, who mentioned in an interview that they did a lot of improvisation in the beginning and had worked very hard on it. Together with the rest of the cast and crew, he was also kept in the dark about how bad things were between the directors and Lucasfilm. "On a personal level, it felt emotional, for them to be going after we'd set out on that course together. Because I spent a lot of time with them, and we had a really good relationship — they also cast me. But I think at that point, they were kind of on board with [the decision], too," said Ehrenreich.
4. Lucasfilm hired an acting coach for Ehrenreich late into the production
As if there weren't enough problems during this film's production, Lucasfilm thought that Ehrenreich's performance as Solo wasn't up to their standards, leading them to bring in an acting coach — writer-director Maggie Kiley — at the last minute, which was unusual. Kiley had previously worked with Lord and Miller on their films, and used her for advice for this film.
5. Ford had to step in to help Ehrenreich too
What better way to learn about a character than from the man who played it originally? To further guide Ehrenreich into portraying the perfect Solo, Ford brought him out for lunch and even read through the whole script with him. "Tell them I told you everything you needed to know, and that you can't tell anyone," said Ford to Ehrenreich when he was asked about the tips that Ford had imparted on him. After the premiere of the film, Ford said, "I just thought it was spectacular, and I thought he [Alden] was so smart about what he did and how he did it. I just couldn't be happier."
Solo: A Star Wars Story will be premiering on 24 May. Click here for last week’s #ManCrushMonday.