In 1977, George Lucas introduced us to one of the greatest sci-fi action stories of all time with Star Wars, giving fans bizarre planets, mysterious mythology, and compelling characters. Like every good opera, the villains were terrifying and the heroes were full of courage, but somewhere in between, characters like Han Solo sided only with their best interests.
Celebrating his 75th birthday today is Harrison Ford, an actor who has been lucky enough to play not just the iconic Han Solo, but is also well-known as Indiana Jones, the archaeologist with a taste for adventure, who has four movies to his name.
Despite Ford becoming one of the most famous actors in history thanks to his role of Solo, he was initially quite trepidatious about taking on the part. When Lucas was working on finding an actor to play Luke and Leia, the filmmaker called in a favor from Ford, having previously worked together on American Graffiti.
Young actors like Kurt Russell, Christopher Walken, and Sylvester Stallone all auditioned for the part of Solo, but Lucas had Ford stick around to see what kind of chemistry Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher could bring to their parts. With the filmmaker realizing the chemistry between this trio was undeniable, he finally decided to bring Ford into the fray and changing the actor's life forever.
To celebrate Ford's birthday, look back at some of the moments which helped define the smuggler whose legacy will continue in 2018's Han Solo spin-off!
With Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in desperate need of a fast pilot who's only concern would be money, they headed to Mos Eisley to find the best man for the job. Although the audience might not have known what making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs really meant, it sounded like this pilot knew what he was doing.
After the duo departed, Han revealed that he was in desperate need of the cash, alerting audiences that the smuggler knew how to talk a good game, acting as though this charter didn't mean much to him either way.
Before the group could depart on their journey, Han was confronted by the bounty hunter Greedo, who threatened to hand Han over to the gangster who offered the bounty. Whether it's the original version of the film, where Han shoots Greedo first, or a later revision in which Han merely returned fire, this interaction showed audiences that Han didn't pull his punches and was a man of action.
More than just a soap opera set in space, Star Wars explored a mystical energy that flowed through all living things, with some individuals able to harness this "Force" to manipulate people and objects as they saw fit.
While Obi-Wan attempted to show Luke how to harness these powers, Han could barely contain his mockery. Although Han was only paid to transport the group to their destination, he couldn't help but doubt them, saying, "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."
This one insult pretty much summed up not just Han's attitude through most of the saga, but many of the audience's opinions as well, having only seen glimpses of what this so-called "Force" was capable of.
With Luke preparing to utilize the Death Star plans to destroy the powerful weapon, Han collected his fee and wished the Rebels the best of luck. He had proved himself a valuable asset with the rescue mission, but despite Luke's best efforts to keep the pilot around, the price on Han's head was too large to ignore. The smuggler was so genuine about wishing the Rebels the best of luck that he wished Luke, "May the Force be with you," a far cry from calling it a hokey religion.
As the Rebels got close enough to launch proton torpedos at their target, Darth Vader catches Luke Skywalker in his crosshairs, and right when the audience thinks the Empire would emerge victoriously, Han in the Millenium Falcon swoops in to blast Darth Vader, letting Luke know he needn't worry about anyone on his tail.
Despite all signs pointing towards the smuggler only being out for himself, the final moments of the film revealed he was a changed man, willing to put his life on the line for a greater good.
Han might have been willing to stick around with the Rebels for a bit, but that doesn't change the fact that there's still a price on his head. Since we last saw the smuggler, he's clearly built up a reputation for bickering with Princess Leia, who is quick to call him out on his shenanigans.
After Han rescues Luke from the frozen wasteland of Hoth, his heroics get the best of him, proclaiming that Leia was desperate to keep him around. In a fit of rage, the Rebel leader calls the smuggler a "Stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, Nerf-herder."
Mocking offense, Han merely took issue with being called scruffy-looking, seemingly embracing the other insults lobbed at him. The pilot might be more involved with the Rebellion, but he's the same egotistical smuggler we saw in the first film.
At the start of The Empire Strikes Back, Leia called Han stuck up and half-witted, but as the pilot showed another side of himself throughout their journey to reunite with the rest of the Rebels, the two clearly developed feelings for one another. The root of all of their hostility was clearly the romantic tension between them, with the two dropping their guard to embrace one another when they finally had a moment alone in the Millenium Falcon.
When the crew landed at Cloud City, they were taken captive by Darth Vader and bounty hunter Boba Fett and alerted that Han would be put into carbonite freeze for safer transportation to Jabba the Hutt. Thinking it could be the last time Leia would see him, she confessed that she loved him, only for him to admit, "I know." Never wanting to drop his cool, the smuggler was even reluctant to reveal his true feelings in his potentially final moments.
After Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca reunited with Han Solo frozen in carbonite, Jabba the Hutt foiled their plans for escape, alerting the crew that they'd become food for the monstrous Sarlacc. The group did get to share a brief moment of joy when Han was first thawed out, but the hopeful feelings were short-lived.
Riding on one of Jabba's sail barges towards their supposed doom, Luke pointed out that he had grown up in that area and he had considered the location his home. Han gladly pointed out that, not only was he born there, but, "You're gonna die here, ya know. Convenient." It was this matter-of-fact attitude and humorous outlook in even the direst situations that reminded audiences Han's attitude hadn't been lost in the carbonite.
Nearly 40 years after fans first laid eyes upon him, Ford returned as Han Solo for The Force Awakens, set a few decades after the events of Return of the Jedi.
Multiple moments tugged at the heartstrings of die-hard fans, like seeing Solo on screen with Chewbacca, reuniting with Leia, and piloting the Millenium Falcon. Despite all those powerful pings of nostalgia, nothing quite compared to his confrontation with Kylo Ren.
During their reunion in the second act, Han and Leia's interactions revealed that the latest Sith to terrorize the galaxy was actually their son, with the two seemingly clueless as to how he could have gone down such a dark path. When Han confronted his son face-to-face, audiences had hoped it could inspire
- Woody Harrelson Reveals Just How Secretive Lucasfilm Is About Han Solo Spin-Off
- These Star Wars Characters Changed Drastically From Their Concept Artwork
- Han Solo Movie Seems Determined To Keep Its 2018 Release Date