Alden Ehrenreich is the cover star for May’s edition of Esquire in celebration of Solo: A Star Wars Story coming to cinemas next month. In the feature they talk to Ehrenreich, Lord & Miller, Kathleen Kennedy, Ron Howard and others. Here’s a few snippets and we recommend reading the full feature at the link below: –
On getting the role of Han Solo….
The directors say that Ehrenreich was literally the first actor they saw for Han, though they confirm rumors that they went on to audition upwards of three thousand. Kathleen Kennedy, the head of Lucasfilm, says the number was a somewhat less extravagant sixteen hundred but agrees that Ehrenreich stood out from “his very first screen test.”
“Alden, remarkably, remained the person to beat from day one,” Miller says. “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,” says Lord. “He seemed like a tough guy who was really scared.” According to Kennedy, he also aced a key challenge: a screen test with Chewbacca.
Of Lord and Miller, Ehrenreich says….
“They had a different style than Ron in terms of the way we were working.” He’s not sure what their Solo would have been like. He liked the script. He liked them as directors. He can’t say whether they were really taking an Apatovian riffs-over-script approach. “From the first screen test on, we played around with it a lot. We tried a lot of different things, rethinking behind the scenes,” he says. “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.”
On any movie set, Ehrenreich says, regarding whatever arguments were going on between the directors and Lucasfilm, “the actors are at the kids’ table, unless you’re also a producer of the movie. So you’re really kept out of all the backroom dynamics of what was going on.”
Ehrenreich on Ron Howard replacing Lord & Miller….
“Everybody’s hackles are raised a bit, and Ron had this ability to come in and deal with morale and get everybody enthusiastic about, A, what we’d already shot, because I think his feeling was that a lot of what we’d already done was really good, and, B, the direction for the next piece of it. He knew how to navigate a tricky situation, and almost from the first or second day everybody pretty quickly recharged and got excited again about the movie.” (Lord and Miller ended up with executive-producer credits on the film. Everyone involved is cagey about how much of their material ended up in the final cut.)
On Star Wars, Ehrenreich has this to say….
“The world we live in now, everything is so niche,” he continues. “One of the beautiful things about being a part of Star Wars is that it’s one of those few things that are community- building in that way. Maybe that way of putting it is a little self-important. But it is something we all have a connection to, something everybody knows about. There aren’t that many of those things.”
Ehrenreich on meeting Harrison Ford….
Make your own metaphor out of this, if you choose to. We talk about his meeting with Harrison Ford, which took place during preproduction on Solo. “I kind of raised my hand a little bit,” he says, “and said, ‘Let’s reach out.’ Because I thought it seemed right, to reach out to him.”
So Ehrenreich drove out to Santa Monica airport, where Ford keeps his truly impressive collection of airplanes. The younger actor knew the history of Ford’s up-and- down relationship with the franchise. Ford had unsuccessfully lobbied for Lucas to kill off Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. He wouldn’t get his wish until The Force Awakens, and he refused to sentimentalize the moment even then. The New York Times asked if he thought of his return as a passing of the torch. “I don’t know that I thought of it that way at all,” he said. “I was there to die. And I didn’t really give a rat’s ass who got my sword.”
Ehrenreich confesses that he was intimidated sitting down with Ford because “you never know what to expect from people. And he was gracious and supportive and very welcoming—a real gentleman. I don’t think he was following the project that closely. He was just kind of like, ‘Hey, what’s up, kid?’ My impression is that when he did Force Awakens he was surprised at what a good time he had, and how meaningful it ended up feeling to him.”
Not that they talked about that, of course. They mostly talked about Coppola and Fred Roos—the kind of stuff Ehrenreich is interested in. Regarding Han Solo, he will only quote what the original nerf herder himself advised him to say: “Tell them that I told you everything that you needed to know, and that you’re not allowed to tell anyone.”
This sounds a lot like a meeting at which nothing happened.
“He admitted that he was more forthcoming with me than he was with Alden, because he didn’t want to hamstring Alden,” says Howard, who spoke with Ford after taking over Solo. “He thought it was so important that Alden find a character, within the scripted Han Solo, that he could connect with and understand, and not be limited by his advice in any way.”
Not too long to wait now till we see the final film — Solo: A Star Wars Story is out in just a few weeks.