Woody Harrelson has just been signed up to play a guiding hand in the ‘Han Solo‘ standalone. Mike Leeder notes there’s a lot of ground to cover with the smuggler’s early days…
The as-yet-untitled Han Solo spin off movie continues to assemble its cast, with Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) playing the young scruffy looking nerf-herder/reckless smuggler personified by Harrison Ford. Donald Glover (The Martian) will be playing the young Lando Calrissian, previously played by Billy Dee Williams and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) will be playing an as-yet-unconfirmed role.
Now comes the confirmation that Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, Zombieland and – of course – Cheers) is joining the project in what is rumoured to be the role of a mentor to the young Han Solo. The film will be directed by The Lego Movie‘s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, with Lawrence Kasdan (Star Wars: Episode V-VII) and Jon Kasdan (In The Land of Women) providing the script. It will focus on Solo’s early days, long before he encountered an old man named Ben Kenobi and a young idealistic farmboy named Luke Skywalker.
Han Solo’s pre-Star Wars: A New Hope adventures have been chronicled previously in at least two trilogies of books: Brian Daley’s Han Solo at Stars End, Han Solo’s Revenge and Han Solo & the Lost Legacy, which were published shortly after the success of Star Wars .There was also the Alan Dean Foster spin off Splinter of The Mind’s Eye. These books told of Han Solo and Chewbacca’s adventures in a very different part of the galaxy far far away, and their encounters with two very interesting droid Zollux and Blue Max, the Empire-like Corporate Authority, and the Master Gunslinger Gallandro – remembered by Han Solo as; “He musta been the fastest gunman alive. Gallandro had me dead to rights. I was just thinking how impressed he would be when I got the blaster aimed at him・when I smelled something burning. It was me…”
Han Solo at Stars End and Han Solo & the Lost Legacy have some great ideas, but the best exploration of Han Solo’s earlier life came in 1997 when Ann C Crispin wrote a very solid trio; The Paradise Snare, The Hutt Gambit and Rebel Dawn which not only delivered a very entertaining introduction to Solo, but would explain his connection to wookies and how he and Chewbacca became so close… also how he became such a good pilot, his long standing association with Jabba the Hutt, his first encounters with Lando Calrissian and an explanation for why Lando wears a Cape (and grew that moustache), his early encounters with Boba Fett and why they have such rivalry. There was also an explanation for the much discussed comment about ‘how Solo and the Millenium Falcon made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs’. (A parsec being a unit of distance not of time!) Its a great trilogy of books that always brings a smile to my face when i revisit them, and does a great job of expanding the universe and back story of Han Solo.
Personally, I’d love to see this trilogy be the basis for the upcoming Solo spin-off and Disney does seem to be paying homage and staying true to various elements of the expanded universe in a way George Lucas always seemed to ignore. (The various books were approved by Lucas and Co. and writers often spoke of being asked to change certain elements to gain his approval, only for him to contradict them in his own versions later. I could see Donald Glover playing the young Calrissian introduced in these books, a man trying to find his way in the universe and not quite reaching the smooth talking ‘tababa gas’ running scoundrel we were introduced to in Empire Strikes Back. There are also two specific characters that I could see Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson playing that are in these books. One could imagine Emilia Clarke as Bria, the first woman to capture Solo’s heart and also break it: she’s a character that undergoes quite a journey herself, from a brain washed pilgrim to a fast thinking rebel commando. Harrelson could make a banquetout of the character of Solo’s early mentor Garris Shrike, an expert pilot, womaniser and scoundrel… but unfortunately one with no redeeming factors.
The Han Solo movie is set to shoot this year, with a 2018 release scheduled.