Former Solo: A Star Wars Story Directors Look Back on Their Departure From the Project

Star Wars fans were immensely excited when Lucasfilm announced that 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had been tapped to deliver audiences a Han Solo origin story, with that excitement turning to disappointment when the pair announced they were departing the project just weeks before production concluded. There are a variety of reports about what led to the split between the studio and the filmmakers, most of which center around the tone of their adventure not aligning with Lucasfilm's hopes, with Lord and Miller recently noting that, despite the negative feelings, there's still a lot that they appreciate about the opportunity.

"We've always wanted to make projects that are, like Han, a maverick, and so that's what we were always trying to do, that's what we were hoping to do with those movies," Lord revealed to the Happy Sad Confused podcast. "It was funny, about [the original] Star Wars, it's an independent film made outside the Hollywood system. And Han is the spirit of that kind of independence and that's why we were always inspired to work on that with everybody." 

He continued, "The good news is, they can't take away what you learned. We learned so much. We got to work with the greatest people, we made so many friends. We, what we call in animation, put 'pencil miles' under our belts and it made us better filmmakers in the long run. So, in a funny way, there's obviously a lot of negative emotions associated with that, but the way I feel about it now, like I feel about all these projects, which is you're just trying to become better and learn and collaborate with people and that doesn't go away."

Following the pair's departure, Ron Howard came in to complete production as well as helm reshoots. Other than vague implications about the difference in tone, fans have still been left to wonder about how different their vision of the galaxy far, far away was from what landed in theaters. 

When asked if the experience has impacted how they enjoy Star Wars projects in subsequent years, Miller pointed out, "It's certainly colored [the experience], you also know how the sausage is made, so you're actually watching [and say], 'Oh, I know where that prop came from. I saw that prop in the prop warehouse.' That sort of thing, so it's interesting in that way."

Specifically, Lord recalled, "Also, watching some of the things we came up with on Solo sort of trickle in to the rest of the canon." Miller went on to add, "A lot of these aliens and robots. Six-eyed guy that goes like this, each eye is independently moving like a piece of armature is pretty fun."

Regardless of that original version of Solo being lost to time, the pair still look fondly on the filmmakers and creatives they collaborated with during their time at Lucasfilm.

"And it's very easy to root for [Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer/director] Rian Johnson, for example. Just having spent a lot of time with him and watching his movie come together," Lord confessed. "It was really easy to root for [Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director] Gareth [Edwards], having been on the ground watching him put that together. And on and on, all through the ILM group, there's a lot of great craftspeople that we love rooting for. The creature shop people that are amazing."

Stay tuned for details on the big-screen future of Star Wars.

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