‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Director Explains How Young Han is Different

Solo: A Star Wars Story director Ron Howard participated in a fan Q&A on Twitter Monday, where he opened up about how his young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) differs from Harrison Ford’s roguish smuggler.

“Well the spirit of young Han Solo is not that different than the Solo that we meet in the later movies, but that’s what our movie is all about,” Howard says in the video.

“That’s what Larry Kasdan and his son Jon so brilliantly wrote about, which is the events, the relationships, the action, the adventure that he goes through that helps this young, brash guy, desperate for his freedom, begin to become the Han Solo we know in later movies.”

Set sometime after Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith but before Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels, Solo “introduces” the future rebel somewhere between 11 and 14 years before A New Hope.

Solo presents the pirate as “a young, reckless, rebellious guy,” who Howard says has “a lot of swagger" and has “the need for speed.”

The Willow and In the Heart of the Sea director lists Bullitt — the 1968 thriller that starred Steve McQueen as a fast-draw police lieutenant — as a one of the influences on his take on a galaxy far, far away, which is primarily influenced by rebellious '70s flicks.

Howard was prodded to “look back at those kind of ‘70s movies,” the director says, saying “things like Bullitt influenced some of the choices that we made.”

“Some of those heist-crime movies, those sort of adventures, were something that I looked at a lot,” Howard explains.

One pivotal relationship explored by Solo will be the budding friendship between Han and eventual lifelong partner-in-crime (and heroics) Chewbacca (played here by Joonas Suotamo), whose bromance isn't immediate.

“The Han-Chewie relationship is so central and important, everybody loves it because they love both characters. They love Han Solo, they love Chewbacca,” Howard says.

“But this is the story of the relationship — not always a friendship — this is when they first meet and so forth.”

When the two first meet, Howard says, “we’re not sure which way this whole thing could go. And it’s pretty interesting to see it unfold.”

Of his newly minted leading man, best known to audiences for his role of a singing cowboy in the Joel and Ethan Coen-directed Hail, Caesar!, Howard has high praise: “Alden Ehrenreich’s been a young actor that everybody in Hollywood has known is gonna wind up being an important actor and movie star,” Howard says.

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“He’s charismatic, he has a twinkle in his eye, he’s handsome, but he’s an incredibly thoughtful, dedicated actor, and he poured himself into the Han Solo role in a way that was really inspiring to watch. It was a huge responsibility and he took it very seriously on behalf of Star Wars and the fans.”

Solo: A Star Wars Story, also starring Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Woody Harrelson, opens May 25.