Han Solo may have met his ultimate end in Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, but since the character is one of the most beloved in the entire franchise, Lucasfilm isn’t planning on moving away from the iconic smuggler. Harrison Ford’s time in the role may be done, but the studio has a young Han Solo spinoff coming through the pipeline, due in theaters May 2018. Directed by the dynamic duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie), the film sees rising star Alden Ehrenreich take over – perhaps for a trilogy of movies.
Finding the new Han Solo was obviously a crucial part of the production process, but the filmmakers still need to round out a supporting cast before filming begins in January 2017. Many were wondering if Han’s buddy Lando Calrissian would appear in the spinoff in some capacity, with the rumor mill suggesting that Lord and Miller were looking for someone to play a young version of the old smoothie. Now, their supposed first choice for the part has officially signed on.
In an official release on starwars.com, it is confirmed that Donald Glover is on board to play Lando in the upcoming film. According to the report, Han Solo will show Calrissian “in his formative years as a scoundrel on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld” before becoming the administrator at Bespin’s Cloud City.
Now that viewers know they’ll get to see Lando in his youth, the question becomes how exactly he factors into the narrative. Lucasfilm’s announcement is characteristically short on details, but Borys Kit of THR is hearing from sources that the spinoff will “tell how Lando Calrissian lost the Millennium Falcon to Han.” Ideally, there will be more to the film than that (since viewers know Han was the captain of the ship for most of his life), but it should still be a treat for longtime fans to learn how that all went down. Per the non-canon Legends, Han beat Lando in a game of sabacc, so it will be interesting to see what the “official” explanation is. Chances are, some gambling is taking place in the galactic underworld.
Lord and Miller expressed excitement over the news, saying, “We’re so lucky to have an artist as talented as Donald join us.” While some fans remain skeptical of a young Han Solo movie, it’s hard to argue against Lucasfilm’s casting choices. Ehrenreich was a scene-stealer in this year’s Hail, Caesar! and Glover should also prove to be a valuable addition. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated great range and earned widespread praise for his new TV series Atlanta this year. With his background in comedy, Glover should be a strong fit for Lord and Miller’s style, and it’ll be fun to watch him and Ehrenreich play off each other. If their interactions are anything like Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams, viewers will enjoy a wild ride.
Lando is arguably an original trilogy character that’s been shortchanged since Disney took over Lucasfilm, as he wasn’t even mentioned in Episode VII. It’s nice to see that the fan-favorite is a big part of the studio’s plans, and if Ehrenreich is locked in for multiple pictures, chances are Glover will be as well. Lord and Miller are aiming to start filming in a matter of months, so there should be more casting announcements – such as the female lead – in the very near future.
UPDATED 29 October: Donald Glover ‘Honored’ to Play Lando
It’s been a very good year in 2016 for actor Donald Glover, across multiple mediums. Following his acclaimed turn in last year’s The Martian movie, Glover’s album under his rap alter ego, Childish Gambino, Because The Internet, was certified gold. His FX hip-hop drama, Atlanta, has drawn rave critical reviews and was picked up almost immediately for a second season. And last week, he won the coveted role of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming standalone Star Wars anthology film about Han Solo.
In the film from directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie), Glover will step into the shoes of Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; he’ll be appearing opposite Alden Ehrenreich, who will be playing the part made iconic by Harrison Ford. The film starts production early next year with the release date set for late spring in 2018. Most Star Wars fans seem pretty happy with the casting of Glover, and it appears the actor himself is happy to have won the role.
In an appearance on The Ellen Show, Glover expressed his gratitude over having been cast in such an iconic part. Glover told Ellen DeGeneres that he is “honored” to have taken the role, and to be part of Star Wars. The actor said he’s loved the Star Wars films ever since he was a child – referencing the viral photo of Glover wearing a Star Wars t-shirt as a high school student. He even shared that a Lando Calrissian action figure was the first toy he ever had, along with one of Darth Vader.
While lifelong affinity for Star Wars is by no means a prerequisite for involvement in the present movies, there’s something to be said for lifelong passion for the material. And that’s something Glover clearly has, whether it’s Star Wars or Spider-man — another franchise Glover publicly campaigned to participate in, and ultimately landed a role in Spider-man: Homecoming.
The question will be, can Glover and Ehrenreich recreate the chemistry, and the complicated relationship, that we saw between Han and Lando back when Ford and Williams played the parts? The previous actors, in limited screen time, conveyed a whole lot of complex and shared history. When it comes time to show us that history, are the new actors up to it? Based on what we’ve seen from them in past roles, they certainly seem up to the task.
The untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.