Han Solo Star Wars Spin-Off: Everything You Need To Know

Han Solo cast picture

by John Nugent |
Published on

Hang on. A Han Solo spin-off?

Yes. A Han Solo spin-off. After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they announced – alongside their plans to resurrect the episodic Skywalker saga – a number of spin-offs and standalone films set within the Star Wars universe. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, released in 2016, was the first official spin-off under the new arrangement, and the Han Solo spin-off will be the second – an origins story delving into the early years of the silver-tongued smuggler originally played by Harrison Ford.

What’s it called?

Han Solo Stand-Alone shooting image

At the moment, IMDb lists the film as Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? There’s been no official announcement yet, title-wise, but it would make sense to conform to the format of the last spin-off and go with something like Han Solo: A Star Wars Story.

During filming, the production has had the working title Star Wars: Red Cup, which is a jokey reference to a famous red cup manufacturer going by the name of The Solo Cup Company.

Who’s directing?

An interesting question. Are you paying attention? Then let’s begin.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the duo responsible for 21 and 22 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs) were originally the directing team behind the whole thing, their background in comedy seemingly the perfect fit for Han’s rakish wit. “This is a dream come true for us”, the pair said in a statement. But unfortunately this dream wasn’t quite meant to be.

Jump forward to June 2017 after six months of filming, and the pair exit the film in a shock twist. To those on the outside, at least. Lucasfilm released an official statement (“it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film”), as did the directors (“we normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliche is true”), and it was announced that a new director would be confirmed soon.

Rumours circulated about Joe Johnston or Ron Howard taking the reins, with the latter chosen by Kathy Kennedy and co. to “[carry] forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago”. In his signature personal style, Howard took to Twitter soon after the official announcement:

Filming resumed in mid-July.

Who’s written the script?

Lawrence Kasdan – the man behind legendary Star Wars fare like Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and more recently The Force Awakens – has teamed up with his son and co-writer, Jon Kasdan, to write the screenplay. After more than thirty years, this is the senior Kasdan’s swansong effort with the franchise.

Kasdan Sr. appears to have played a hand in Lord and Miller’s dismissal, reportedly concerned with the dailies he was witnessing from the duo’s shoot as well as their improvisational style.

Editor Chris Dickens was also replaced (by Ridley Scott favourite Pietro Scalia), but director of photography Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma) got to keep his seat on the Millennium Falcon. The score will be provided by John Powell (How To Train Your Dragon), continuing the theme of unique composers for the spin-offs.

Who is playing Han Solo?

Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo. Stepping into Harrison Ford’s not inconsiderable shoes to play the scruffy-lookin’ nerf herder, Ehrenreich is not widely known to mainstream audiences – though that’s about to change soon, of course – instead having skulked in scene-stealing roles for films like Hail, Caesar!, Stoker and Blue Jasmine.

Ehrenreich, too, has been caught up in the ‘difficulties’ rumour mill due to the appointment of an acting coach at the eleventh hour. Although this isn’t completely out of the ordinary for a big budget film like this, it is so late in the day.

Ehrenreich was confirmed in the role on stage at Star Wars Celebration 2016, where it was revealed he was the first actor of thousands to audition. Will we see his fateful completion of the Kessel run in under twelve parsecs?

Who else is in the cast?

Donald Glover is Lando Calrissian. This was a casting announcement that had Star Wars fans collectively raise an eyebrow and mutter to themselves, “Hello, what have we here?” Glover – a modern-day polymath, known for his work in Community, Atlanta, 30 Rock, and a successful music career as alter ego Childish Gambino – was a much-touted fan favourite for the role, and there’s already chatter about whether we’ll see that infamous game of sabacc in which Lando loses the Millennium Falcon to Han.

Woody Harrelson is Beckett. After father figure work to Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games franchise, the veteran Texan actor looks set to take on a similar role here. “I play a guy named Beckett, who’s kind of a criminal and a mentor to Han,” Harrelson told Jimmy Fallon during a recent interview on the Tonight Show. “That’s all I can say.”

As for those worried about the state of this anthology entry? “I think I read some stuff where people were worried about the fate of this movie,” Harrelson told The Hollywood Reporter. “I wouldn’t worry. The Force is still very much with it.”

Joonas Suotamo is filling the large furry shoes of **Chewbacca, Han's trusty wookiee companion. Suotamo doubled for Peter Mayhew – the original Chewbacca, forced to retire for health reasons – for certain scenes in The Force Awakens, and is expected to also appear in The Last Jedi. “I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love,” Suotamo said in a recent interview.

Also on board, in currently unspecified roles: Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones), Thandie Newton (Westworld), Michael K. Williams (The Wire), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) and Warwick Davis. Ian Kenny – one of _Sing Street_s many standouts – will also pop up.

What’s it about?

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars

Understandably, as of yet, Disney are keeping their cards close to their chest on details. We know it will focus on how Han became the man who definitely shot first, set before the events of A New Hope, perhaps around ten years or so. (Alden Ehrenreich is 27; Harrison Ford was 33 when filming began on the first Star Wars film.)

“This moves closer to a heist or Western-type feel,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Variety back in November. “We’ve talked about (Frederic) Remington and those primary colours that are used in his paintings defining the look and feel of the film.”

Where is the film being shot?

In keeping with a Star Wars tradition that stretches right back to 1977 and A New Hope, the Han Solo spin-off is being shot just outside of London, meaning a galaxy far, far away is actually not that far away for a lot of us Brits. Filming officially commenced in January at Pinewood Studios, and will include location shooting in the Canary Islands and the Dolomites – will we finally see Han’s home planet of Corellia?

When will it be released?

Somewhat surprisingly, May 25, 2018 is still the film’s slated release date, even with the additional two months of shooting the project now requires.

That’s quite a long time away. What do I do in the meantime?

Fear not: your unquenchable appetite for Star Wars-related material will not go unsated. As part of Disney’s plan to release a new movie in the universe every year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently set to arrive on December 15, 2017. Here’s everything you need to know about The Last Jedi.

Where is Han Solo on our list of the 30 greatest Star War characters ever?

What order should you watch Star Wars?

A 2002 interview with Harrison Ford.

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