Last summer, directing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) were fired from Solo: A Star Wars Story by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy over creative differences. Rumor had it that the two were trying to infuse a more comedic and improvisational approach to the Star Wars anthology film, which follows Han Solo's journey from Corellian street rat to galaxy-renowned smuggler.
Comedy and improvisation might work best for a Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum team-up, but not on a more serious movie like Solo and so, the two parted ways with the galaxy far, far away and Ron Howard was brought on to complete the project.
In a lenghty interview with Esquire, the film's young Han, Alden Ehrenreich, touched on Miller and Lord's exit. Judging by the way he describes their directing style and how it clashed with Kennedy's vision, it seems the production perhaps wasn't the sh** show that many at the time were making it out to be.
“They had a different style than Ron in terms of the way we were working," he said. “From the first screen test on, we played around with it a lot. We tried a lot of different things, rethinking behind the scenes. That was yielding a different movie than the other factions wanted. I knew what I was doing, but in terms of what that adds up to, you’re so in the dark as an actor. You don’t know what it’s shaping up to be, how they’re editing it, so it’s kind of impossible without having seen those things to know what the difference [of opinion] was, or exactly what created those differences.”
There were also rumors that crew members broke out in applause when they learned that Howard would be taking over the project. This, said Ehrenreich, is utter nonsense or, to put in his own words "bullsh**."
“For a crew to do that would mean they hated [Lord and Miller], which was not by any stretch the case," he said.
Esquire was also able to get ahold of Miller and Lord via email, where they talked a bit about their original ideas for the film. For instance, they didn't want Ehrenreich doing a beat-for-beat impression of Harrison Ford for the entire movie.
"[That] would have felt like an extended Saturday Night Live sketch,” Miller said. “We wanted someone who could evoke the spirit of the iconic performance we all remember while bringing something new and fresh. We talked a little bit about how Chris Pine, playing Captain Kirk, didn’t do a Shatner voice, and brought his own spin to the character while still evoking the vibe of the character. We felt Alden did the same with Han Solo.”
After testing somewhere between 1,600 to 3,000 actors (the number varies between Lord and Miller and Kennedy), the pair knew that Ehrenreich was their Han. Most importantly, Kennedy confirmed that he passed one of the most diffucult trials by fire, a screen test with Chewbacca.
“Alden, remarkably, remained the person to beat from day one,” Miller continued. “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 humor.”
“He felt classic and contemporary all at once,” added Lord. “He seemed like a tough guy who was really scared.
Solo: A Star Wars Story just wrapped up post-production and will premiere at Cannes in May before debuting everywhere May 25. Even after all the trouble behind the senes, Lord and Miller will be receiving executive producer credits.