Somewhere in Solo: A Star Wars Story, there’s a moment when fans may nod, laugh, and be reminded of what made the original Star Wars trilogy so fun in the first place. Director Ron Howard and Disney’s Kathleen Kennedy aren’t revealing what it is, but we do know that it’s aboard the Millennium Falcon—and that it’s only there because of George Lucas.
For a far-ranging feature on the film’s tortuous production, Howard and Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly that Lucas and his wife Melody stopped by the Solo set, on Howard’s first day, for what was supposed to be a brief visit. But Lucas stuck around for five hours, chatting with Howard—who’s been friends with Lucas since the 1970s—and ended up suggesting a small tweak for a key Han Solo moment in the Falcon's cockpit.
“There’s even one little moment in a scene that—I can’t tell you what, sorry—but in the scene on the Millennium Falcon where George said, ‘Why doesn’t Han just do this?’” said Kennedy.
“It actually is a funny little bit that will probably get a laugh…And Ron happened to be by the monitor and not inside the Falcon and he goes, ‘Oh that’s a great idea,’ and ran in and said, ‘George wants us to do this.’ So that was pretty cool.”
Howard, who took over directing duties after Disney’s mostly-amiable split with original filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, said Lucas has always been “like a big brother mentor” in his life, and that the Star Wars creator even gave him gentle directing advice for Solo that, now that we think about it, sounds a whole lot like “Use the Force.”
“He told me just trust my instincts, you know?” Howard told EW. “…[E]ven he knows that it’s grown so far beyond that, and the fans have grown with the series in a great, important way. So he didn’t offer a lot of advice except, ‘You’ll get this.’”
As for just how much of the film is Howard’s, and how much remains from the previous directors’ input, Howard won’t say. He acknowledged that Lord and Miller’s “fingerprints are all over the movie,” but said his goal has been to help create an engrossing film that quickly pulls fans into its world — and away from all the meta-noise that surrounds so many event movies.
“I hope fans won’t even think about how the movie was made. They should just lose themselves in it,” he said. “…I don’t really want to explain it. I don’t really want to be specific about that because, again, I don’t even want that to matter to fans…I think audiences are gonna feel that love and excitement.”
Howard and Lucas go way back—all the way back to the time before Star Wars was anything but an idea in Lucas’ head. Howard told EW how Lucas described his early concept for a science fiction epic following the release of American Graffiti, and we’ve gotta say—it definitely sounds like Star Wars.
In addition to having elements of the older Flash Gordon films and comics, Lucas told Howard he wanted to make a film with “the grandeur of 2001, and the realism of those special effects that Kubrick created…But maybe fast.’”
If it’s speed you’re after in the Star Wars universe, there’s no better place for it than aboard the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon — back before it became the galaxy’s fastest hunk of junk. We’ll get the chance to see the younger versions of both the Falcon and Han Solo when Solo: A Star Wars Story releases on May 25, 2018.