By now you’ve likely heard at least a little something about Lucasfilm firing Han Solo Anthology directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, then quickly replacing them with Ron Howard. If you somehow missed the news, Surprise!, and welcome to the down and dirty details slowly escaping the production.
First there was the actual firing, which in itself was shocking, because shooting was only weeks from finishing. Within a day, allegations that Miller and Lord’s (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) take on the title character was too comedic, and that the directors’ vision was in sharp contrast to screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan’s:
Lord and Miller have a comedic sensibility and improvisational style while Kasdan favors a strict adherence to the written word … ‘People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish.'”
While I agree on that summation of Han, the situation begs the question: Why hire directors who are clearly known for their comedies and improvisation, if that’s not the direction you want to take the movie?
At the same time, I recall hearing lots of similarly disturbing rumors near the end of filming Rogue One, and by gum, Gareth Edwards (known for his dark grittiness) knocked that one right out of the stratosphere. Hiring out of the box directors is a great way to bring fresh ideas and vision to the Star Wars universe, and it was cool to see the franchise being passed to new hands.
Speaking of new hands, we’re also seeing the next generation of actors come to Star Wars, and one casting I’ve been particularly excited about was Alden Ehrenreich — after seeing him in the Coen’s Hail Caesar!, I couldn’t think of a better fit for a young Han Solo. So, when reading through another piece on the Lord/Miller problems, I was a little shocked to read this detail:
Matters were coming to a head in May as the production moved from London to the Canary Islands. Lucasfilm replaced editor Chris Dickens (Macbeth) with Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia … And, not entirely satisfied with the performance that the directors were eliciting from Rules Don’t Apply star Alden Ehrenreich, Lucasfilm decided to bring in an acting coach. (Hiring a coach is not unusual; hiring one that late in production is.)”
Yeah, me too, Alden; I’m corn-fused. I’m hoping this tidbit about coaching has more to do with nailing Harrison Ford’s mannerisms or style than actual acting ability, because where I wasn’t as bothered about the state of the movie before, this news is more concerning. Vulture also notes that after Lucasfilm head, Kathleen Kennedy didn’t feel things had gotten better (upon bringing in a new editor and an acting coach); that’s when she spoke with Kasdan and the decision to let Miller and Lord go was made.
Despite the hubbub, we should probably all remain calm; as with Rogue One, wait to see some footage before going bananas about all the rumors.
This newest generation of Star Wars has thus far been spectacular, so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that all the kinks will be worked out and the movie series’ grand legacy will continue. And lest we forget, there are these incredible women to look forward to.
Shooting on the Han Solo Anthology Film reportedly continues with Ron Howard at the helm beginning today.