Surely one of the biggest entertainment stories of 2017 was directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller leaving the then-untitled Han Solo movie near the end of production, with Lucasfilm bringing in Ron Howard to finish the film and craft additional photography. Filmmakers leaving projects over creative differences is not a unique occurrence, but leaving in the midst of production certainly is. Thus far Lucasfilm has done a swell job of easing concerns, with Howard taking to social media to offer teases of his filming experience. And a few cast members have spoken up to say that while Lord and Miller’s exit was troubling, the experience as a whole has been fine.
Aside from a joint statement released at the time of their departure from what is now called Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lord and Miller have been radio silent. But as part of a Clone High reunion at Vulture Fest over the weekend, the duo finally addressed their exit. Their response was, unsurprisingly, measured, with Lord likening it all to a breakup:
“The experience of shooting the movie was wonderful,” Lord said. “We had the most incredible cast and crew and collaborators. I think in terms of us leaving the project, I think everybody went in with really good intentions and our approach to making the movie was different than theirs. That was a really big gap to bridge, and it proved to be too big.” Lord managed a laugh as he added, “Sometimes people break up, and it’s really sad, and it’s really disappointing, but it happens and we learned a lot from our collaborators and we’re better filmmakers for it.” The audience cheered in support as Lord added, “We’re really proud of the work we did on the movie and we wish everybody the best.”
Miller added, in humorous fashion, that they’re recovering just fine:
“We’re super well-adjusted, obviously we’re doing great. We’re super drunk right now,” he joked. “As Phil said, we had such a great relationship with cast and crew, we were really rooting for them. After we took a much-needed vacation, we got back into it and now we’re writing and producing a sequel to The Lego Movie and producing a Miles Morales animated Spider-Man.”
Indeed, Lord and Miller essentially had their pick of projects even after the Solo ordeal, and in September they signed on to develop and direct an adaptation of The Martian author Andy Weir’s new novel Artemis. It’s still a major bummer all of this went down, and it must be difficult to develop, conceive, cast, and shoot most of a movie only for you to be asked to step aside. Reports swirled that Lord and Miller’s knack for improvisation and veering from the script rubbed Kathleen Kennedy and/or writer Lawrence Kasdan the wrong way, and eventually as Lord says, the gap proved too big to bridge. The two will certainly land on their feet, but Lord and Miller’s Solo is now unfortunately destined to exist only in our imaginations as one of the famous “what if’s” in Hollywood history.
The film is still slated to hit theaters on May 25, 2018, at which point it’ll be interesting to see how much of Lord and Miller’s original footage remains.