In less than two months, Solo: A Star Wars Story will finally hit theaters, and we'll get to see what the early adventures of the galaxy's favorite smuggler actually look like on the big screen. At this point, speculating what a particular Star Wars sequel, prequel or spinoff will do to the franchise has almost become an industry unto itself, but Solo seems to carry more weight in that department thanks in no small part to the specter of behind-the-scenes drama that's hovered over the last few months of production.
Just how much drama there is surrounding Solo, and how intense it is or was, depends on how much you're worried about certain key events. We know that original co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The LEGO Movie) left the film after months of shooting (they claimed they left over creative differences, while unconfirmed reports claim they were fired) and were quickly replaced by Oscar-winner Ron Howard, who re-shot large portions of the film and has since steered it toward release with, among other things, plenty of Twitter teases and an impressive post-Super Bowl trailer. We also know that Howard will be credited as the film's sole director, while Lord and Miller have taken executive producer credits for their contributions.
As the film's promotional machine prepares to kick into high gear in the coming weeks, we'll hear more from the cast and from Howard himself about the production, and we'll no doubt read a lot of answers to a lot of questions about the director change. Even with all of that to consider, we still won't know everything about the turmoil that went into making Solo, but a new report might get us a little closer.
Vulture released an interview Monday with an unnamed source from the Solo cast, someone described as "not one of the film’s marquee stars" who was still able to observe working conditions under both the Lord-Miller team and Howard. The cast member remained anonymous because Lucasfilm, obviously, doesn't want its actors leaking this sort of thing, and a rep for Lord and Miller called the source's quotes "completely inaccurate." So, take everything you read in this particular report with a grain of salt.
That said, the source does at least attempt to shed some light on what supposedly went wrong in the lead-up to Lord and Miller's departure. Among the issues: The duo's alleged tendency to shoot numerous takes in search of many different reads, to the point that — according to the source — the actors started to find it "weird." Lord and Miller, the source said, approached the film with an eye toward crafting it in editing, and wanted a wide variety of takes to choose from. When Howard came aboard, that changed. The number of takes decreased dramatically, and Howard — described as "a really easy to guy to work with" — brought a new level of "control" to the set.
The problem, though, seems to have run deeper than many takes versus few. According to Vulture's source, Lord and Miller just weren't ready for the rigors of making a film on a Star Wars scale.
"They definitely felt the pressure; with one of these movies, there are so many people on top of you all the time," the source said. "The first assistant director was really experienced and had to step in to help them direct a lot of scenes.”
Another issue, according to the source, was the performance of leading man Alden Ehrenreich, who struggled to portray his version of Han Solo to Lucasfilm's standards. It's not clear if the blame here should be placed solely on Ehrenreich, or if Lord and Miller weren't up to the task of getting the right performance out of their star. Whatever the case, at around this time last year the studio reportedly brought in an acting coach to help Ehrenreich be more Harrison Ford-like.
“Trying to mimic Harrison Ford is really tough,” the source said. “Lucasfilm wanted something very specific: copying someone else. Alden’s not a bad actor — just not good enough.”
There's nothing specific in the report about what exactly Ehrenreich was failing to grasp about his character, but the sourced went on to note that "the coach worked," and the actor's performance became "more Harrison-like" as the shoot went on, apparently even before Lord and Miller's departure.
A day after the story surfaced, Miller took to Twitter seemingly in response to it, simply writing: "Maybe don't believe everything you read."
Again, it's important to note that this an unnamed source who doesn't necessarily have complete knowledge of the Solo production (Vulture notes their source never saw direct conflict between Lord and Miller and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy), and that we're likely never going to get the whole story directly from everyone who lived it. There's a good chance we'll never know exactly what parts of Solo are Howard's and what parts are Lord and Miller's. One interesting thing the source did note about that, though: Howard reportedly shot his portions of the film from "exactly the same script."
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters May 25.