Later this month, Lucasfilm will explore the backstory of its most famous scoundrel in Solo: A Star Wars Story. This is a very different Han Solo than we’ve seen before, alongside a few familiar faces like Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, as well as some new characters who are making their debut in the film.
Alden Ehrenreich had the monumental task of stepping into the role of Han after Harrison Ford made the character into an icon during the original trilogy. At the Solo press conference in Los Angeles, Ehrenreich shared the story about Ford surprising him during a TV interview and what it felt like to receive the support of his predecessor.
"Right before we started shooting, I wanted to talk to Harrison, just to pay respect and have him give us the blessing on the film,” recalled Ehrenreich. “We had lunch two years ago, and he was really encouraging and supporting... He is just so effusive about the movie. That meant so much to me, and I know for Ron [Howard] and Kathleen [Kennedy], it's such a huge deal to have him really, genuinely enjoy the film. It meant a lot to me that he could come out here and do that."
Ehrenreich also spoke about the experience of piloting Han’s ship, the Millennium Falcon, and making it his own.
"It's bigger than you can wrap your head around,” noted Ehrenreich. “It's wonderful, particularly being in the Millennium Falcon. It's very much like being in the cockpit... You get in, and you can't believe you're in it. And it's so surreal, and that's what everyone we bring to the set wants to see and have that experience too. Then, a couple months into shooting it, you're inside of it, and you're flying it, you know where the buttons are, [and] you know how the chair feels. Then you go 'Okay, this is kinda like my ship.' That is deeply gratifying.“
"Like any 7-year-old boy, of course I pretended to be [Lando],” said Glover. “And I had a Darth Vader [that] had a lightsaber, and I bit it off and gave it to Lando. My mom wouldn't let me have the lightsaber anymore. She thought I would choke on it, and it was like really cool.”
“When I heard they were making these [movies], I told my agent, ‘If they're making anything with Lando in it, I have to be Lando,’" continued Glover. “And he was like, ‘I hear you, I don't like your odds.’ That wasn't exactly what I needed to hear, but I really did audition like it was the only role I wanted in the world. Because it really was.”
“Peter Mayhew... has been instrumental in giving me his blessing and giving me tips in our week-long session together [on] how to be this character... It was fun, because I never could have understood what went on underneath the mask of Peter Mayhew. And now that I got to know that, it was so easy going to shooting this film, which is so much about Han and Chewie and everyone. It was so important to get it right for this film."
Suotamo also indicated that playing Chewie was a major turning point for his life.
"When I got to know that I was playing this character, I really couldn't sleep at night,” recalled Suotamo. “I was so excited, because this was a life changer for me. I was borderline jobless when I got this role. My fiance – my then girlfriend – has seen me going from living with my mom to becoming Chewbacca. That's the span of our relationship. She says I've been like this the whole time. But now, the behavior suits me.”
Because Emilia Clarke’s character, Qi'ra, is shrouded in secrecy, she wasn’t able to talk about many specifics. But she did offer up a teasing glimpse of Qi'ra’s true nature.
"It has been difficult to talk about, because she is a mysterious character,” admitted Clarke. “We meet her quite early on with Han, then they're separated. When we find her again, she seems to have lived a pretty dark life in that time. So you can't quite figure out what it is that's happened in the time that you haven't been with her. And who it is that she is now. It's a question that kind of keeps coming up during the movie.”
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is another new addition to the Star Wars universe. She’s playing L3-37, a droid unlike any other.
"L3 is a real inspiration to me,” said Waller-Bridge. “She's a self-made droid, so she creates herself out of parts from other droids. That's very frightening when you put it like that, but she makes herself out of Astromech droids and Protocol droids and turned herself into a unique creature that's taller, stronger, and more independent than she was.”
“She's got a great attitude, and she's very upbeat,” continued Waller-Bridge. “She's fearless, uncensored, and very funny. And she has an agenda which is bigger than the sum of her parts.”
According to Woody Harrelson, he found it very easy to step into his role as Han’s mentor, Tobias Beckett.
"I thought it was a really easy character for me to play, because he's a scoundrel, but I think really well written,” said Harrelson. “That's the thing that we have to be aware of... there are a lot of people who are Star Wars fanatics who say that this is their favorite Star Wars [character]. Larry and Jonathan [Kasdan] really wrote an extraordinary script, and just at the right time, Ron came in and did his thing. So it's pretty cool to be in a Star Wars [movie] that's also phenomenal.”
Paul Bettany was very effusive about his character, Dryden Vos. He told the press that it was very fun to step into this role after playing the “fundamentally good” Vision in the MCU. Bettany described Vos as someone who is “deliciously bad and really okay with it. No guilt, just super happy about being evil.”
Finally, Ron Howard spoke about joining the film late in production and finding his way into the story.
“I'm a [Star Wars] fan, and I also appreciate the movies, but I'm not encyclopedic,” admitted Howard. “I don't know everything. I haven't seen everything. I haven't read everything. So I came into this situation and started working more off of instinct than anything else... I immediately said 'I'm going to treat it like true story.' I've done a lot of true stories. And I go for the heart, I go for the drama, the excitement of the story and the narrative... That's honestly the way I approached this.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters on Friday, May 25.