It's no secret that Disney is working on a film following the adventures of a young Han Solo, to be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, but everything else about the project remains mysterious. According to The Hollywood Reporter, even Lucasfilm doesn't yet know quite what the film will be, because they're casting an extremely wide net for a star. More than 2,500 actors have reportedly met with casting directors for the project, ranging in age from late teens to late 20s. Everyone from Chandler Riggs (Carl on The Walking Dead) to Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter) has apparently been seen, which suggests that the studio still doesn't know exactly what kind of Han they're looking for.
That's not exactly surprising at this point, since the film doesn't come out until 2018, but it doesn't slow down the constant speculation over who will land this coveted role. Chris Pratt, who's also been rumored to play a younger Indiana Jones, is the frontrunner in the eyes of many, but he's already almost as old as Harrison Ford was when he first took the Solo role, so that likely rules him out. That leaves younger actors -- though we don't yet know exactly how young the character will be -- to take their shot at the project, and while there are plenty of them, some are more suited for the role than others, particularly when you consider what Lawrence Kasdan told Entertainment Weekly about where he sees the character in this era.
“You know, he’s younger in this [spin-off] movie and that’s fun because you have to imagine him 10 years earlier in his early 20s. What was he like before he hardened up? Before he had some setbacks? Before he put on this cynical coat? What got him there?”
So, what we're thinking about is, essentially, a Han Solo in transition, a guy who goes out into the galaxy and learns that it's a rough place full of war and betrayal, a place where you always need a good blaster at your side. With that in mind, I started thinking about actors that could convincingly play that side of the character, and these are the guys I came up with.
NOTE: Nearly all of these actors fall between the ages of 18 and 30, in keeping with what we've heard about the film so far. Also, keep in mind that this is not a list of every conceivable actor who could play young Han. This is about the actors I'm drawn to, despite feeling weird about anyone other than Harrison Ford playing this part. If you've got other choices, feel free to let us know in the comments.
Ingruber is one of the lesser-known actors on this list, with only a handful of credits to his name so far, but he has an interesting credential that no other actor competing for this role can boast: He's already played a younger version of Harrison Ford, in The Age of Adaline. As you can see, he does bear quite the resemblance to the original Han Solo, and though he hasn't exactly been tested as an action star yet, he is talented, and he proved his Solo chops a few years ago with a YouTube video in which he re-enacted Ford's dialogue from the cantina scene. Watch this, and wait for the moment when he grins. If you ask me, that's all the audition footage he needs.
Hemsworth, fresh off closing out The Hunger Games franchise, certainly has the movie star looks that prime him for a Star Wars role, and it's definitely not hard to see him as the capable, fearless Han Solo that takes up so much of the films. But does he have the chops to be the sly, witty, smirking Han Solo? That's a harder question to answer, but after wrapping up one of the biggest franchises in recent years, Hemsworth's stock is high.
You might not believe it if you only know him from stuff like Fantastic 4, but trust me: Miles Teller has it in him to be one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's done goofy comedies (Project X), he's played the cocky jerk (Divergent), he's opened up some serious emotional vulnerability and drive (Whiplash), and he's proven he's game for genre, even if Fantastic 4 didn't work out so well. After watching a performance like the one he gave in Whiplash, I wouldn't be surprised to see him jump into just about any role, Han Solo included.
I know, I know, some of you are mad that the Fault in Our Stars guy made the list, but like Teller, Elgort has serious potential. Sure, he's not a proven action star yet, but there's an energy to him that makes me think that, if we really are getting a more vulnerable version of Han, he might be perfect for it. If we're really talking about a Han Solo in transition, Elgort's one of those guys who could convincingly give us both the naive and the hardened versions of the character.
Egerton broke out this year thanks to Kingsman: The Secret Service, and as a result his name was whispered in connection with everyone from Cyclops to Spider-Man. He didn't get either of those roles, but he could be just what a young Han Solo movie ordered. To the extent that Kingsman allowed for it, he displayed some real depth, and proved he could do the "Loser becomes Hero" story, something that's not unlike Han Solo's transformation in the original trilogy. Plus, he's got the perfect sly Han Solo grin when he wants to break it out.
I know a lot of people thought Taylor-Johnson's performance in Godzilla was bland, but I didn't; he gave us what the role called for, and he did it again in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's proven himself to be equal parts silly and serious, something he definitely shares with Han Solo. The question is whether he can play both at the same time. He's demonstrated a flair for the irreverent thanks to Kick-Ass, but is it the right kind of irreverence for Solo?
Parrish, at 28, is one of the older actors on this list, and arguably one of the least Han Solo-looking guys I picked, but I still see potential here. I think Weeds -- the Showtime series he co-starred on for more than 100 episodes -- is exactly the kind of show Han Solo himself would watch. It's dark, it's funny, it involves illegal activities, and there's a recklessness to it that Solo and his bounty-dodging ways would've embraced. Parrish, like other stars on this list, doesn't have a big genre background, but he does have the perfect Solo smirk, and he's definitely got the combination of humor and vulnerability that could work very well for a tale of Solo's early years.
Yeah, Grant Gustin already has a major genre role thanks to The Flash, and some might call him greedy if he chose to take up Star Wars as well, but ... I don't care. I find the guy charming, and though he's not exactly scruffy-looking, he very well could be in the right costume and makeup. Gustin's performance as Barry Allen has convinced me that he's got a great combination of insecurity, enthusiasm and pure heart, and I think if we're talking about a young Han who hasn't yet grown into what Harrison Ford portrayed, that might be the perfect combination.
At 19, Sheridan is the youngest actor on this list, but he's already snagged a major genre role as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse, so we know he's ready for sci-fi. We still have no idea exactly how young Lucasfilm wants to go with Han, but if they decide to go really young, Sheridan is a guy who could make that work. He's not exactly a Harrison Ford lookalike, but I think he's close enough, and he's already proven he has enough genre chops to convince Bryan Singer to cast him. If the timing was right, Chris Miller and Phil Lord might be the next big shots to notice him.
Hedlund is 31, making him the oldest person on this list, but his looks make it easy for him to convince us that he's younger, and he has a history of genre work that makes it feel like he's game for something like Star Wars (though, honestly, who wouldn't be?). He's got the swashbuckling side of Solo down, and the emotional weight of the character might not be far behind.