Back in 2015, it was announced that there would be a new Star Wars film that would follow the adventures of renegade smuggler Han Solo (Harrison Ford) some years before he joined Luke (Mark Hamill) in A New Hope. This May, we’ll finally see the end result in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
When the project was first announced, there was a lot of speculation and debate as to who could fill Ford's shoes. The role was ultimately clinched by Alden Ehrenreich – here are five reasons why he's the perfect choice to play Han Solo.
1. He’s got the acting skills
One big reason why Han Solo became such a beloved part of the Star Wars saga was due to Harrison Ford’s screen presence. He gave Solo so much charm and charisma that it was hard not to fall for him.
If, then, we’re to believe the Han in Solo is the same mischievous smuggler as seen in the rest of the series, whoever’s got the part has to have the acting chops to embody this colourful character.
Although Ehrenreich hasn’t landed an Oscar just yet, his hilarious performance in Hail, Caesar! has already won him one award for Best Supporting Actor. The Coen brothers’ sly celebration of the Hollywood studio system casts Ehrenreich as cowboy actor Hobie Doyle, the definitive Western hero. He’s charming, brave, and a master of horse riding, gun slinging, and lasso flinging.
Just don’t cast him against type in a parlour room drama and try to get him to say "would that it were so simple".
The performance demonstrates the wit, timing and humour we demand from someone taking over from Harrison Ford. If Ehrenreich’s career continues to skyrocket like this, not only will he be amazing as a young Han Solo, but he may even be in the running for a Best Actor Oscar in the foreseeable future.
2. He earned the part through a long audition process
To find a new Han Solo that would be fully committed to the part, the casting process was purposely tough to ensure they had what it takes. The first to audition for the role, Ehrenreich has spoken about being put through his paces during a gruelling six-month-long audition process before he was finally given the part.
After working so hard before even setting foot on set, it's safe to assume that Ehrenreich is fully committed to playing Han Solo. His dedication has certainly earned him the part and we can’t wait to see the payoff of his efforts in May.
3. He’s worked with legends since day one
More often than not, it takes a long time for an aspiring young actor to hit the big time, where their first years are spent in small roles as they try and build a name for themselves. Not Ehrenreich, however, who has worked with the biggest names in cinema since the start of his career.
The story goes that a teenage Ehrenreich was discovered by Steven Spielberg at the Bat Mitzvah of a friend of Spielberg’s daughter. A short film Ehrenreich and his friends made was screened at the event and Spielberg, liking what he saw, invited the star-to-be to audition for the lead role in a 2009 film called Tetro, directed by The Godfather filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.
Ehrenreich then featured in Coppola’s next film, Twixt, and has gone on to work with many other legendary actors and filmmakers. He appeared opposite Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman in Oldboy director Chan Wook-park’s Stoker, worked alongside Woody Allen and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, and stole the show in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! No mean feat when one considers the A-list cast: Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton.
In Solo, Ehrenreich will be working with yet another legendary filmmaker, Ron Howard (Apollo 13), and will be teaming up with actor/musician Donald Glover (otherwise known as Childish Gambino) as Lando Calrissian. It takes some serious talent to reach this level so quickly and we’re looking forward to seeing where Ehrenreich’s career takes him next.
4. We’ve already seen him play the Han Solo type
Han Solo is a charismatic, wisecracking smuggler, an intergalactic outlaw who flies his trusty Millennium Falcon across the galaxy. In many respects, Solo is a lot like a cowboy in an old Western flick; all he’s missing is a ten-gallon hat to complete the image.
As the Solo trailer still hasn’t dropped at the time of writing, we still haven’t seen footage of Ehrenreich yet. But then he’s already played a cowboy in Hail, Caesar!, nailing Hobie’s drawl and laid back attitude. (Well, at least until Hobie is cast in a completely different type of film for which he’s unsuited.)
As mentioned, Ehrenreich was spectacularly funny in the role, so if he can bring a fraction of his cowboy charm to Solo, we’re in for one heck of a treat.
5. Co-star Woody Harrelson approves
Why just take our word for it? Fellow Solo actor Woody Harrelson, recently Oscar nominated for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, has gone on record to praise his experience of working alongside Ehrenreich.
Harrelson, who plays young Solo’s mentor Tobias Beckett, has told People.com that Ehrenreich "has his head on his shoulders". To Harrelson, Ehrenreich is a "cool guy" who is on "a wild trip". If Ehrenreich is good enough for Harrelson, then who are we to complain?
Andy Murray is an Unlimited card holder who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.