The Star Wars franchise is full of classic characters and beloved portrayals of said characters, but few can compare to Harrison Ford and his tenure as Han Solo. That said, Alden Ehrenreich will take on the unenviable task of replacing Ford next month when Solo: A Star Wars Story finally hits theaters. There’s quite a bit of fan enthusiasm to see what the young actor does with the scruffy-looking nerf herder, and according to director Ron Howard, a big part of Ehrenreich’s approach involved tapping into the nature of Han Solo, and not Harrison Ford. The director explained:
It was always clear from the beginning, before I was involved, that it was not going to be an impression of Harrison. No one wanted that. Part of Han Solo’s character is sort of a vibe and a feel and a body language.
It sounds like audiences looking for a recreation of Harrison Ford’s performance from the original trilogy won’t necessarily get that. Per what Ron Howard told Empire Magazine, his take on the younger version of the fan-favorite smuggler will be different than Ford’s, as Alden Ehrenreich specifically looked to the nature of the character to capture the swagger that has made him so beloved. Harrison Ford obviously left a massive impression with his take on Han from his first appearance in A New Hope to his final appearance in The Force Awakens, but this offers the general sense that Ehrenreich is arguably looking more to the work done by screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and the Star Wars universe as a whole to find the heart of the character.
Ron Howard’s remarks about Alden Ehrenreich’s take on Han in Solo: A Star Wars Story seemingly make sense when we look at how other actors have taken over classic roles. It is similar to how different actors have taken over iconic and beloved roles like Batman or James Bond; a certain amount of DNA exists within the role to make the portrayals similar enough, but each actor also brings something different to the part to make it his own. After all, that’s why Daniel Craig and Sean Connery can both embody the qualities of 007, while also playing the role in very different ways.
All of this ties back into advice that Harrison Ford reportedly gave Alden Ehrenreich once the wheels started turning on Solo: A Star Wars Story. Specifically, the former Han apparently offered insight into the original vision of George Lucas, which helped inform this new take on the character. Again, it was not a matter of tapping into Harrison Ford’s portrayal and doing an impression; it was about getting to the root of Han as a character and playing that.
We will see what Alden Ehrenreich brings to the role of Han Solo next month when Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts in theaters on May 25. From there, the main Star Wars saga will continue with the premiere of J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode IX on December 20, 2019.