Ron Howard is an accomplished, Oscar-winning director with credits like A Beautiful Mind, Willow, and Apollo 13 to his name, but even he had to be a little nervous about Solo: A Star Wars Story. Howard famously (or infamously, depending on how the movie turns out) stepped in for departing directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller when they split with Lucasfilm over "creative differences" last year, and was faced with the unenviable task of not just taking over a movie, but taking over a movie that was already well into principal photography.
Howard was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Thursday night to promote the film, and Colbert — a lifelong Star Wars fan who never misses a chance to remind his audience that he saw an advance preview of the original film back in 1977 — couldn't help asking the director about the particularly daunting moment when he finally walked onto the Solo set to begin work. After all, though Howard could (and did) make changes, much of the film was already designed. The sets, costumes, props, and so on were already assembled without any of his input. According to Howard, it was definitely an anxiety-inducing task, but one particular moment relaxed him into the process.
"It was chaotic, and I was anxious and pumped up, and it was a big action scene, you know. It's a beautiful set, and it's everybody there, and it's Droids, and it's aliens, and some Wookiees running around, and blasters. And I organized this very complicated shot, and it took a long time to get it together, and the actors were pulling hard to try to make it happen," Howard said."Lando flips the gun, the blaster to Han and swings around, and the camera move is perfect, and it all went beautifully, and I felt really good about it. But here's this amazing thing that happened...I mean, let me just tell you, when you get a fist bump and a full-body hug from Chewbacca. That's...it's an experience I wish every movie maker could have. But I realized I was in the galaxy far away, but it was gonna be OK."
Howard also touched on the moment when director George Lucas, Star Wars' creator and Howard's longtime friend, took time to visit the Solo set. As producer Kathleen Kennedy previously discussed, Lucas didn't just observe. He actually contributed a little moment to one particular (still-undisclosed) scene in the film. Howard gave Colbert his own memories of how that happened.
"He was trying to stay out of the way, but he did lean over and he says 'You know...You know what Han would really do there?' I said 'What?' And so he described the joke, he gave me a little joke. And I said 'Hey, guess what? Here's what we're gonna do in the next take!' So, I know when I hear a good idea."
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters May 25. Tickets are on sale now.