Disney’s continuation of the Star Wars franchise got off to a roaring start when Star Wars: The Force Awakens took the box office by storm a few months ago, leaving critics and fans alike eager to see what comes next in the main saga. There’s more than just Episodes VIII and IX to look forward to, however, as Disney has also launched a series of Star Wars spinoffs, starting with this year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Among the planned spinoffs is a prequel about the life of rakish smuggler Han Solo, before he ran into Luke and Leia and became embroiled in a war against the Empire. While Harrison Ford returned to the iconic role for The Force Awakens, he’s a little bit too mature and distinguished now to be playing a twenty-something version of Han Solo (and he’s also busy getting ready to return to the Indiana Jones franchise), so Lucasfilm has been looking at a number of up-and-coming young actors for the role. However, according to reports there was one clear frontrunner: Hail, Caesar!‘s Alden Ehrenreich.
Now the New York Post‘s Page Six is reporting that, according to “Hollywood sources,” Ehrenreich has finally landed the role. Page Six‘s insider said that “Alden really impressed Disney and Lucasfilm execs with his screen tests,” and that “The deal is basically done.” While that’s obviously not official, it certainly fits with what we’ve been hearing up until now about Disney and Lucasfilm’s interest in Ehrenreich, and the news has since been corroborated by THR, Variety, TheWrap and Deadline. In addition to his role in the Coen brothers’ most recent film, Ehrenreich also played the lead in 2013 fantasy romance Beautiful Creatures and appeared in Woody Allen drama Blue Jasmine. Check out some clips of Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar! below.
The Han Solo spinoff, which is set for release in 2018, has already stirred up interest due to the appointment of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller – more commonly known as the duo that can spin gold from the seemingly very worst Hollywood ideas. The filmmaking pair previously directed the highly-praised movie reboot of 21 Jump Street, as well as its sequel 22 Jump Street, and were also the minds behind 2014’s animated hit The Lego Movie. The Han Solo spinoff is being co-written by The Force Awakens, Return of the Jedi and Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, and his son Jon Kasdan (The First Time).
Lucasfilm’s focus right now is on promoting Rogue One, and there is a rumor that Rogue One will feature a small cameo by the new Han Solo, which would explain why the spinoff has started casting so early. We’ll keep following this story and keep you updated on any developments.
Who’s this guy?
Alden Caleb Ehrenreich (born November 22, 1989) is an American actor. He made his feature film debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s independent film Tetro (2009) and appeared in Coppola’s subsequent film Twixt (2011). In 2013, he appeared in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Park Chan-wook’s Stoker and starred in Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures. In 2016, he starred as Hobie Doyle in the Coen brothers comedy Hail, Caesar!.
Ehrenreich was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Sari (née Newmann), an interior designer, and Mark Ehrenreich. His stepfather, Harry Aronowitz, is an orthodontist. He is from a Jewish family (from Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Poland), and was raised in Reconstructionist Judaism. Ehrenreich began acting at the Palisades Elementary School in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, and continued doing so at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California. After graduating from high school, he spent years at New York University studying acting but never finished his degree.
Ehrenreich was discovered at a friend’s bat mitzvah reception by Steven Spielberg, when Spielberg saw a short comedy featuring Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich has described the comedic performance he gave in the movie as: “I ran around as a skinny little punk, trying on girls’ clothes and eating dirt.” The meeting with Spielberg led to acting roles on television shows such as Supernatural and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. In 2007, Ehrenreich auditioned and won the role of Bennie Tetrocini in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro. Coppola requested Ehrenreich read a passage from The Catcher in the Rye for his main audition. The film was released in limited release in 2009 and received generally positive reviews from critics; praising Ehrenreich’s performance. In 2011, he played a minor role in Coppola’s subsequent film Twixt and appeared alongside Natalie Portman in the Sofia Coppola-directed Miss Dior Cherie commercial.
In 2013, he starred as Ethan Wate in the film adaptation of the novel Beautiful Creatures, and appeared as Whip Taylor in Park Chan-wook’s thriller film Stoker. He then played the stepson of Cate Blanchett in the Woody Allen-directed drama film Blue Jasmine. In 2016, Ehrenreich became more widely known for his co-leading role as Hobie Doyle in the Coen brothers film Hail, Caesar!, alongside a cast that included Josh Brolin and George Clooney. Many critics praised Ehrenreich’s performance in particular. Ehrenreich was cast in a leading role in Warren Beatty’s upcoming untitled Howard Hughes project. He will star in The Yellow Birds (2016) with Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, and Jennifer Aniston.
In March 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Ehrenreich was one of a number of actors to audition for the role of Han Solo for the upcoming Star Wars anthology film, and had made the final shortlist. On April 16, 2016, Deadline.com reported that he was the frontrunner for the role following a series of secret screen-tests. On May 5, 2016, Ehrenreich was cast as Han Solo, with the film following Solo’s early life before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
Han Solo director teases beginning of ‘shooting’
Although the leading role has yet to be officially cast by Disney and LucasFilm tapped co-directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) for the Han Solo spinoff while Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan is penning the script with his son Jon. Currently, Star Wars: Episode VIII is in the middle of production – with release scheduled for 2017 – but now Miller has teased the beginning of shooting on the Han Solo movie.
In honor of May 4th and #MayThe4thBeWithYou, Miller released a photo of Han Solo’s blaster on Twitter with the caption: “Can’t wait to get ‘shooting’!” Check out Miller’s tweet:
Of course, the photo and caption seem to be a reference to Han Solo’s iconic introduction in Star Wars: Episode IV– the quickdraw cantina scene in which Han shot firstduring a showdown with the alien bounty hunter Greedo – though the scene was hotly contested by Star Wars fans until the question was finally answered. However, Miller’s May the 4th Be With You tease also seems to indicate production will soon begin rolling on the Han Solostandalone project.
In terms of the Star Wars movie release slate, this particular anthology film will arrive sooner following the preceding movie than the others –The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Episode VIII have all been scheduled roughly a year apart, whereas Han Solo will hit theaters six months after Episode VIII. So, the production on the Han Solo film may need to begin either prior to or shortly following the completion of shooting on Episode VIII, which recently passed the halfway point.
That being said, the Han Solo spinoff seems to still be in the process of casting and has yet to announce the official star who will take on the role of the iconic Star Wars scoundrel – a role previously played by Harrison Ford. Last we heard, Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar) was the frontrunner, though other young up-and-comers like Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Dave Franco (Neighbors), and Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) were rumored for the role as well. However, once the Han Solo film has found its star, it may not be long before shooting begins, as Miller teases.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, and the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.