Thanks to Disney for sending me to LA to cover this event
When I first found out that Ron Howard was taking over the direction of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I knew the film was going to be magic. There are guidelines with the Director’s Guild that require a director to have directed a certain percentage of the movie for their name to be the sole name on the film. I just want you to know:
“Solo” IS Ron Howard’s film.
For me, Ron Howard is one of those directors who makes magic. Everyone we spoke to said they love working for him and that he makes them feel heard and safe.
Are there better qualities in a director?
I had the opportunity to meet Ron’s daughter-in-law, Ashley at the premiere after party. She initially commented on my dress then we chatted about this and that and the movie. Her husband, Reed Howard came over to talk and she introduced us. They were so easy to talk to, it was truly the highlight of my night.
Reed specifically wanted to know what I thought about the movie and admitted he was biased since his dad was the director. I was able to honestly tell him that I loved the film and that I thought his dad had made magic.
And I really do believe that.
We scared the boogers out of Ron when he walked into the room where we interviewed him. He was preoccupied with his phone and we clapped and yelled him in. I’ve got audio of it, but no video proof. That would have been pure gold. He did admit that we woke him up which I’m really glad about because it would have been pretty awkward to attempt an interview with a sleeping director.
What makes a director want to take a project like this on, and what was his greatest challenge?
Let’s find out!
What was the biggest challenge taking on Star Wars?
The responsibility of the cast, especially Alden Ehrenreich. It’s such a daunting challenge. I knew there would be a lot of judgment surrounding him and his performance. He’s such a cool customer, he wore the responsibility well, but it was something that meant a lot to him.
Did you have to walk a fine line between Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and creating this younger Han?
Alden was all about taking inspiration from Harrison’s Han. I think Alden thought a little about the body of the work. When I directed Einstein Ge
nius for National Geographic, my older and younger actors worked together to work out some body language individual traits that the younger Einstein could use that would then reverberate with the older Einstein. Alden had already thought about that.
Larry Kasdan had written for the iconic Han Solo. That phrasing, those rhythms were there for Alden to develop and so it was not only right for the character, but familiar for the audience.
Ron Howard didn’t know that “Solo” had experienced any dramatic creative differences, so when he showed up to breakfast in London with Kathleen Kennedy and the Kasdan brothers were there, he thought they were approaching him about a future Star Wars gig. When they proposed that he take over the direction of “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, he wasn’t so quick to jump on the opportunity.
Read about the surprising person who urged Ron to take the project of “Solo” on:
About half way through the breakfast, it came out that they were in this crisis with the young Han Solo movie. They asked me if I would ever consider coming in and taking over. I said, ‘Well, that’s very flattering, but I can’t imagine that I would, I don’ think so.’
I urged them to reconsider and think about it. They had already made their decision. They knew they were going to make a change.
I read the script and I was so compelled. It answered the questions of what a young Han Solo’s life experiences might be that would shape him toward that iconic figure that we know. It did it in ways that surprised me and it was satisfying and logical. It also had these twists and turns that were unexpected, and in my mind, that’s a great jumping off place.
Over a period of three days I began to weigh it, and at a certain point my wife said, ‘I know you pretty well and I think you’re going to be disappointed if you don’t do this.’ And I thought she was right, because she most always is.
He learned some things about Star Wars as a whole while he was directing that he hadn’t thought of as a fan.
The reason these Star Wars movies kind of resonate with us is because they entertain you in so many different ways. I didn’t realize that as a fan, but when I was directing these scenes, I realized that it’s a real challenge. You have action elements, you have Sci-Fi elements that are really particular to this galaxy, you have this blend of humanity, humor, and drama. then these deeper, bigger themes that really relate. It’s like playing three dimensional chess to direct these scenes and I think that when the harmonics are right, it creates this range of ways that the movies entertain you, but it’s a real challenge.
I recognize and respect the movies that came before me all the more when I realized how complicated it was. It was a challenge, but it was fun to do!
I don’t know how I could have kept it together if the person who told Ron how to direct the film gave me the same advice. Maybe I would have passed out? Maybe?
Who IS this mystery person that gave Ron advice on how to direct “Solo”?
George Lucas had said to me, ‘Just trust your instincts. I think you’re going to find you’re comfortable in this filmmaking style.’
He was right. I fell into it easily. I love the creative, cool, young, smart cast. I loved working with the Kasdans and loved their story.
Ron Howard wanted you to know that “SOLO” was conceived long before Disney acquired LucasFilm and why that piece of information is important.
This story was hatched before Disney ever acquired LucasFilm and came up with this business plan to do more Star Wars films. IT was a conversation that Kathy Kennedy and George Lucas had with Larry Kasdan. They wanted to know what else he thought would be interesting to fans and creatively exciting. Larry and George instantly agreed that it was young Han Solo. This is a story that Larry has been wanting to tell for a while.
This story is the thing that everybody involved has wanted to give 110% to from the beginning
Paul Bettany was not originally cast into the role of Dryden Vos. The producers wanted to go another direction from the character, so everything you see in the film with Dryden Vos is brand new material.
How did Ron Howard deal with having to cast and direct a new actor in such a large role?
One of the things that the producers wanted to do was really change the design of that entire
sequence. I agreed and it meant a hundred percent reshoot and a rethink of the character. I turned to Paul Bettany who I’ve directed in “DaVinci Code” and “Beautiful Mind”. He’s so
versatile and so creative. He brought a lot to this Dryden Vos character.
Paul Bettany had told us that he had actually reached out, begging Ron about being involved in “Solo” once he found out Ron was directing. Ron had one thing to say about that interaction:
Begging sometimes works
Please note that, boys and girls. Begging sometimes works.
Ron Howard is a known family man and his daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard has a little movie coming out this summer which is sure to be a blockbuster. We wanted to know how he felt about going head to head with his daughter in the box office and answer made my heart melt.
It’s hard not to root for your daughter. Either way, we’re in a very fortunate position. This whole experience of being part of Star Wars and this movie lineup was so unexpected. Once we realized that our movies were coming out a month apart, it’s kind of like a gift I suppose. You work at something you love. I give 110% to everything I do. Some things click, some things not as much. I just love it as a lifestyle and a way of life. I felt very rewarded by this opportunity and I hope fans feel really good about the movie because they’re made for the fans.
I love knowing that in light of the state of Hollywood, and perhaps the state of the world, that there are genuinely good men out there. Men like Ron Howard who love their families, support them through everything, and want their input. It’s refreshing to know that not only does it exist, but that family men like Ron are rewarded greatly for their character, and feel humbled by and honored for where they are in life.
Go see SOLO: A Star Wars Story May 25