In a little more than a week, Alden Ehrenreich will be a full-blown movie star. In many ways, he already is, of course. Discovered in a bat mitzvah video by none other than Steven Spielberg, Ehrenreich has acting credits stretching back more than a decade.
He's worked with directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Warren Beatty, the Coen Brothers and, now, Ron Howard. He's met, and received advice from, Harrison Ford, perhaps the ultimate living embodiment of a movie star. Two years ago, his career hit another level when he was announced as Lucasfilm's choice to play young Han Solo, and since then he's been on the fast track to superstardom. However the public receives Solo: A Star Wars Story when it hits theaters next week, Ehrenreich will be an instantly recognizable face by the time it's all over, and if things work out we could be seeing him in a sequel soon-ish.
It's been a wild ride that's still not over, and it all started with...a dog puppet?
In a new interview with BBC Radio 1, Ehrenreich said he spent about six months auditioning for the role of Han Solo. It all culminated with a screen test on the Millennium Falcon, with Chewbacca as his co-pilot. Even if you don't get the gig at that point, it's a pretty cool story to one day tell your friends. The way it all started, though, was a bit less glamorous. Because of the secrecy surrounding the casting, Ehrenreich didn't even initially know what role he was auditioning for, because although he would ultimately be playing Han Solo talking to his pal Chewie, his first audition used a few tricks to hide that reality.
"They have to be really secretive about Star Wars, so they can't say 'Oh, this is a scene with you and Chewbacca,' and you have like a fake name," he said. "Like, my fake name was Mike, and then they had me do a scene where I'm talking to a dog, and they had like a dog puppet in the audition, and then like a little dog sound effect.
"So you'd talk and do the scene, and then they'd like hit a button and it would go like 'rawr,' and it was a puppet. But the puppet was good. The puppet was pretty good."
So, Ehrenreich began his journey to playing one of the most iconic film characters of all time by sitting in a room and talking to a dog puppet. We all start somewhere. Here's hoping that footage of Mike and the Dog Puppet: A Star Wars Story eventually makes it onto the Solo Blu-ray.
Watch Ehrenreich break down his audition process and explain what he did when he realized he'd landed the role in the video above.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters May 25.