As fans continue to try to assess exactly what the firing of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the untitled Han Solo movie means, more reported details continue to emerge about exactly what went down. But before we get too deep, it’s important to keep in mind all of these reports surfacing over the last week are likely only giving pieces of the puzzle, and very one-sided ones at that. The teams behind Lord and Miller, Lucasfilm, and Disney are trying to mitigate the damage from such bad publicity, and thus many “sources” explaining what happened are no doubt trying to put the best possible spin on things so as to paint their client in the best possible way. So keep in mind that while these details are certainly interesting, they may only be small, skewed pieces of a much larger, more complex picture.
With that being said, a fresh report out of THR now adds more layers to the mix, including firings that preceded Lord and Miller. The report notes that in May, when production moved from London to the Canary Islands, editor Chris Dickens (Macbeth) was replaced with Oscar-winning editor Pietro Scalia, who works frequently with Ridley Scott on films like The Martian and Alien: Covenant. Moreover, Lucasfilm was reportedly “not entirely satisfied” with the performance that was being delivered by Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and hired an acting coach to come in and work with him. THR notes that hiring an acting coach in and of itself is not unusual, but doing so this far into production is.
As soon as filming began it was clear that Lord and Miller would not be jettisoning their improvisational style that had been put to good use on films like 21 Jump Street, and in one instance the two reportedly used far fewer setups than Lucasfilm would have liked, resulting in less options in the editing room in terms of coverage. This process and vision proved to be at odds with what Kennedy and Lucasfilm wanted, all the while Lord and Miller reportedly felt they had “zero creative freedom” and felt they were being asked to perform under “extreme scheduling constraints.”
After the measures of replacing the editor and hiring an acting coach did not help matters, at least in Lucasfilm’s eyes, Kathleen Kennedy called writer/producer Lawrence Kasdan to come to London. Kasdan reportedly wasn’t crazy about Lord and Miller’s process, which involved shouting out alternate lines from behind the monitor as opposed to shooting everything exactly as scripted. Although the report notes that Lord and Miller acquiesced to Lucasfilm’s request to stick to the script—they’d shoot a few takes as written, then shoot more takes with alternate lines.
With Kasdan in London he had now, reportedly, become something of a “shadow director” and this understandably rubbed Lord and Miller the wrong way. It’s at this point that an impasse was reached and Kennedy pulled the trigger on replacing the filmmakers with Ron Howard. Howard is said to have been concerned with how Lord and Miller would react and had been emailing with them, with a source saying Lord and Miller have been “very supportive, very elegant.”
Production on Han Solo now resumes in July and will go through September, instead of wrapping in July as previously planned. This is key because Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover both have prior TV commitments they have to return to this fall, so there’s a pretty hard deadline for when production on Han Solo has to be completed in order to meet its May 2018 release date. THR’s report says that much of what Lord and Miller shot will be “very usable,” but it remains to be seen exactly how the Directors Guild of America will approach the film in terms of credit. Lord and Miller are absolutely warranted a “Directed by” credit, but if Howard shoots and directs an extensive amount of footage, he will as well.
On Rogue One, filmmaker Tony Gilroy essentially took over directing duties during reshoots but declined to seek a credit. Gareth Edwards played ball, stuck around for the reshoots and post-production, and remained onboard the film throughout. But seeing the writing on the wall, Lord and Miller were none too pleased about having this same situation happen to them, and so they stood their ground.