As soon as Lucasfilm confirmed that they were moving forward with a Star Wars spinoff—or “A Star Wars Story” as these anthology films are officially called—about young Han Solo, the internet immediately started speculating about who would take on the iconic role. Recasting a character as perfect and completely realized as Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is pretty much an impossible task, which is probably why Lucasfilm enlisted directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller—the kings of turning bad ideas into great films—to take the helm.
The casting process for the untitled picture has been heating up recently, and one of the names that surfaced as part of a shortlist of actors auditioning for the part was Dave Franco, who has a relationship with Lord and Miller from working with the duo on the Jump Street movies. MTV’s Josh Horowitz recently caught up with Franco and asked him about the audition process for a role as surreal as this, and the actor said it was both completely normal and entirely abnormal:
“I went in one time for Jeanie McCarthy, who I’ve auditioned for a million times before, and we just had a really fun time together in the room. And then because of the nature of what it is, it just explodes everywhere. Everyone’s coming up and being like, ‘Dude what’s going on?’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t know, you know as much as me!’”
Horowitz asked Franco if he went with a Harrison Ford impression for the audition or made the role his own, and the actor discussed the difficulty in casting for this particular part:
“No, I’m not good with impressions or anything like that. I think that’s the reason why it’s so hard to cast this role. Do they want someone to perfectly embody who Harrison Ford is, or do they want to go a completely different route? Do they want someone to look really similar to him? I don’t know, I think they’re struggling with that.”
He’s not wrong. There are a lot of different ways you could go with this role, and I imagine Lord and Miller and producer Kathleen Kennedy are open to any and all possibilities at this point. The fact that Ford reprised his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens makes it even tougher, as that reprisal reiterates the fact that Ford’s Han Solo is the same Han Solo all the way through this saga. But when casting for this young Han Solo spinoff, I’ve got to think that a straight-up impression can’t carry an entire movie. You want an actor who embodies the spirit of Ford’s Han Solo while also making his interpretation compelling all its own, otherwise you’re left with a lookalike who’ll just remind you that no one can replace Han Solo.
Last we heard, Lord and Miller were zeroing in on a finalist with Hail, Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich surfacing as the frontrunner, but it ain’t over until it’s over, and one thing’s for sure: Lord and Miller left no stone unturned when auditioning for this crucial role.
Penned by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, the untitled young Han Solo movie is slated for release on May 25, 2018.