It’s finally SOLO week and I’m so excited! Last week I had the opportunity to participate in interviews with some of the cast and creators of Solo: A Star Wars Story and it was an honor to be in the room! I mean, check out this POWER list:
· Alden Ehrenreich (“Han Solo”)
· Donald Glover (“Lando Calrissian”)
· Emilia Clarke (“Qi’ra”)
· Paul Bettany (“Dryden Vos”)
· Woody Harrelson (“Tobias Beckett”)
· Thandie Newton (“Val”)
· Joonas Suotamo (“Chewbacca”)
· Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“L3-37”)
· Director Ron Howard
· Jon Kasdan / Screenplay
· Lawrence Kasdan / Screenplay
It was great to hear how seriously everyone took the task of creating Han Solo’s origin story. I’m thrilled to share a bit of those interviews with you!
Interviews with the Cast and Creators of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
WHAT WAS IT LIKE PARTICIPATING IN A STAR WARS MOVIE?
RON HOWARD: Well, it’s the galaxy far, far away and, you know, … the level of anticipation is really unlike anything I’ve done. Even some pretty big titles with a lot of, a lot of an interest. And you … you fall into it and it’s amazing. I’m at a point in my life where I like experimenting, I like to take some chances. I’m not too, you know, not too worried about the outcome. I wanted to have the creative experience and I sort of felt that way about jumping into a Star Wars movie. But I also felt that way about jumping into the Beatles documentary and then I could tell from the moment it was announced, Ron, don’t [mess] this up. Of course, of course, the fans care. And they should care.
DONALD GLOVER: … When I heard they were making these, I told my agent, I was like, if they’re making anything with Lando in it, I have to be Lando. And he was like, I hear you. I don’t like your odds. And that was exactly what I needed to hear. Because I really did audition like it was the only role I wanted in the world, because it really was so …, I’m just really happy to be part of this experience of it. Because it does feel like the Bible to me in a lot of ways.
THANDIE NEWTON: I remember … there was the first day I went on set and I had my son with me and he was two years old and, didn’t really know anything about Star Wars; he’s two, right. And we were in this amazing set; it was extraordinary. And I was chatting with, you know, the crew and stuff and my kid decided to walk away, I mean, I watched where he was going. He was walking towards R2-D2. And everyone kind of moved aside and my kid just walked over and the guide was operating R2-D2, the remote control — saw my son, knew it was my kid and started to make R2-D2 kind of chat to my kid, in R2-D2 speak. And my son would kind of gabble back and R2 gabbled to him and it ended, I kid you not, with my son hugging R2-D2. And that was the first impression my son has had of that character, of Star Wars. And what I mean is like, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. My little boy didn’t have anything to do with Star Wars — but these characters have a kind of magnetism that is unparalleled. I mean, for all of us as … when we were kids, I was like seven when the first movie came out. I’ll never forget it. That scroll of white going into black; John Williams’ music, it was — his stuff like imprints on your psyche. You know, so I mean, I think that it goes so far beyond even us as filmmakers, just the stuff that dreams are made of.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO EMBODY SUCH AN ICONIC CHARACTER LIKE HAN SOLO?
ALDEN EHRENREICH: The way I went about it pretty much was to watch the original movies very early on. And just kind of absorb as much as I could both of you know, I think mainly the character, you know, how the character is operating in the world. Ah, and Harrison and the whole Star Wars universe, which is so rich and there’s so much to it — and so I tried to kind of take in as much of that as I could very early, because I had the role for quite a long time before we actually shot. And then … and then move into working on the part and kind of put all that aside and forget about it and, and play this guy where he is now in his life, because it’s most important, I think, that it feels like a real person. And so, yeah, so then I kind of moved into working on where, on this story, this moment in time.
So I had lunch with — right before we started shooting, I wanted to talk to Harrison, just to kind of pay respect and have him give us the blessings for the film and — so we had lunch. I guess, ah, two years ago or something and, he was really encouraging and really supportive and then we went off, shot the film and everything like that and today I was doing an interview and they were talking about, you know, is there anything else you’d like to ask him? Because he’s — and I was like, well, I don’t know and they’re like, well, you’ll have your chance — and he was behind me. And he’s so effusive about the movie. And um — and it meant so much to me and I know for Ron and Kathy and everybody, you know, it’s just such a huge deal to have him, um, really genuinely love it. And really genuinely enjoy the film and it meant a lot to me that he took the time to come out here and do that.
ON SEEING THE MILLENNIUM FALCON THE FIRST TIME
ALDEN EHRENREICH: It’s really wild, it’s really exciting. It’s kind of bigger than you can even wrap your head around. And it’s, it’s wonderful — particularly being in the Millennium Falcon is very, very cool. And very much like being in the cockpit — you know, you kind of get into the cockpit — for me it was, it was two things — one, you get in and you can’t believe you’re in it and it’s so surreal and that’s what everybody you bring to set wants to see and they have that experience, too. And then, you know, a couple months into shooting in it, you’re inside of it and you’re flying it. You know where the buttons are. You know how the chair feels, you know the yoke and you feel like, okay, this is kind of like my ship now. And that is deeply, ah, gratifying.
RON HOWARD: As great as visual effects and CGI is, even … only the great CGI, the effect supervisors will tell you, you know, in-camera is always what you want to go for first. And so, you know, with the Millennium Falcon and with just the great sets and so forth, the approach here always was to try to get as much in-camera as you could, and then, and then build — and that’s what’s so magical and amazing about ILM and what they can do — to make, you know, the experience as palpable and immersive as it could possibly be. It’s a blast. Because the people around a movie like Solo are so dedicated to not just what’s existed before, but what else they could do within that framework, within that, that universe, that galaxy — and creatively it’s unbelievably stimulating for a filmmaker.
HOW DID THE STORY OF HAN SOLO’S ORIGIN COME ABOUT?
JONATHAN KASDAN: Well, the story hadn’t been bubbling for a long time. What had been bubbling for me was from the moment, when I was relatively
young, and I first saw Han Solo in the cantina and I immediately sparked to him. He lifted up the whole movie instantly and I loved the movie. But at that moment I thought, oh, this movie’s just got me. This is the kind of character that I have loved always and it’s been so important in all the movies that I care about. This is a character who’s reckless, who’s cynical, who doesn’t trust anybody. It’s a little bit stupid. I love that. He just does things he shouldn’t do. He gets in over his head instantly and you can see that in the brilliance of George Lucas’s cantina scene. It’s just a few minutes and you get everything about who this guy is.
LAWRENCE KASDAN: And I think he wanted me to write it with him because I am all those things.
JONATHAN KASDAN: No, I … It was funny because, Larry had decided to get involved in Star Wars based on Han. That was the movie he
wanted to make first. He got pulled into The Force Awakens and when he came out he said, “I need somebody to do this with me,” and I was sort of the obvious choice for the above reasons. But also because I shared a deep love of this and I came at it from a totally different place than Larry did. I had grown up with Star Wars; I’d grown up playing with the toys and we thought that somehow between our two dynamics, between me as a fan and him as an older Jedi master, we could figure out some sort of dynamic where we could forge a story that felt both sort of contemporary and true to the spirit of Solo. And I mean, it’s such a big part of what drives the movie for us, is that he is centrally conflicted. At his core there is the conflict and it’s beautifully laid out in A New Hope, between his ideals and his desires. And he’s constantly at war with that and he’s at war with that in this movie and he’s at war with it in all the movies that will follow in his life. And that’s a very fun, sort of charged thing to write.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE CHEWIE?
JOONAS SUOTAMO: When I got to know that I was going to be playing this character, I really couldn’t sleep at night and I was so excited because this was a life-changer for me. I was, I mean, I was borderline jobless when I, when I got this role. You know. So I mean, my now fiancée, my then girlfriend have seen me going from living with my mom to becoming Chewbacca. That’s, that’s the span of our relationship right now. It’s funny because this character is so loved and Peter Mayhew, who created this character along with George Lucas, has been so instrumental in, in giving me his blessing. And ah, giving me some tips in our week-long session together, how to be this character and — seeing him after …
MODERATOR: And you mentioned like Chewie Boot Camp.
JOONAS SUOTAMO: It was fun because I never could have understood what went on underneath the mask of Peter Mayhew. And now that I got to know that, it was so easy going into shooting this film, which is so much about Han and Chewie and everyone — that it was so important to get right, for this film.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE PLAYING A NEW CHARACTER IN THE STAR WARS STORY?
EMILIA CLARKE: It was really, it was really fun. It’s really difficult to talk about because [Qi’ra] is a pretty mysterious character. You kind of need to keep tabs on her throughout the movie and so I’m promoting a movie that you can’t really speak too much about. She is one of the harder ones to discuss. But, um… we meet her quite early on with Han and then they’re separated for whatever reason and we — when we find her again, she seems to have lived a pretty dark life in that time. So when you re-find her, you can’t quite figure out what it is that’s happened to her in the time that you haven’t been with her and who it is that she is now and I think that’s a question that kind of keeps coming up throughout the movie.
WOODY HARRELSON: Well, I thought [Tobias Beckett] was a really easy character for me to play, because he’s a scoundrel and a thief and, ah, but I think really well-written and, I mean, that’s the thing that you have to be aware of. A lot of people who are Star Wars fanatics, this is their favorite Star Wars character which was really cool, but Larry and Jonathan really wrote an extraordinary script and, and just at the right time Ron came in and did his magic and then you have all this, these wonderful characters and so it’s pretty cool to get to be in a Star Wars — it’s also phenomenal.
PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE: L3-37 is a real inspiration to me … she’s a self-made droid, so she created herself out of parts of other droids. It’s sounds kind of frightening, actually, when I put it like that. It’s like, where did you get those bits? Um, but she creates herself out of astromech droids and protocol droids so she turns herself into a unique creature that’s kind of taller, stronger, more independent than she originally was. So yeah, she’s got a great attitude and she has — she’s very upbeat. And really fun to be around. She’s yeah, she’s fearless, she’s uncensored, she’s very funny and she has, and she’s a revolutionary and she has an agenda, which is bigger than the sum of her parts, which is something that’s really extraordinary for her character and it’s great to play that, great to play a droid, you know, with a message.
PAUL BETTANY: [Dryden was] a lot of fun to play and you know, again, it’s written really beautifully; thank you, guys and, I … having texted Ron, having said, um, hey, Ron, … you haven’t spent long winter evenings like I have wondering why you’re not in the Star Wars franchise? And, he said, give me a minute. And I was … I came on set really quickly and, he whispered, “Oligarch,” in my ear and I went, “Got it!” and it was just lovely to play somebody, having come from Avengers where Vision is fundamentally good. Just somebody who’s just deliciously bad; I’m really okay with it. Just no neurosis. No guilt. Just super happy about being evil.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE ON SET?
THANDIE NEWTON: Oh, God! I mean, we were just, we would have fun. I mean, there were — they were in extreme situations sometimes. The battle
sequences. I mean, this room is honestly a quarter of the size of the, you know, cavernous spaces; it would be completely taken over. The production
design is so amazing. That we would feel like we were in, like real sort of battle scenarios with explosions going off and, and debris and you know, like mud in places you didn’t even know you had places. You know what I mean? And the camaraderie between us was just humor, always was humor. That camaraderie was really felt. We were really going into battle together. I mean, obviously, a sort of fantasy, fun battle, but we’re still going into battle.
PAUL BETTANY: I blew my first take, ah, which was meeting everybody and I had to shake hands with Chewbacca. And I kind of started shaking his hand and I … I went in for a cuddle and then it was like … actually I think everybody was really relaxed about it and, you know, people were saying everybody does that.
SOLO: A STAR WARS MOVIE is in theaters May 25, 2018! Thanks to Disney for a really fun media day event and a chance to pilot the Falcon!