Star Wars Celebration News, and the newer, younger Han Solo!

hansolo2by2During the Star Wars Celebration Europe the fans were treated to all sorts of interesting bits of information regarding the next big film in the saga, being Star Wars Episode VIII as well as Rogue One: A Star War Story, but Deadline reports also of the appearance of Alden Ehrenreich who has been cast as the new, younger Han Solo. However there wasn’t much information on the two Star Wars films since production is still too early on both of them, especially compared to Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘s panel Friday which included the main cast, new footage and the official poster.

The film with Ehrenreich cover events in Han Solo’s life that took place prior to his appearance in 1977’s Star Wars, but no story details have been revealed. But before Disney’s 2012 purchase of Lucasfilm, the Star Wars Expanded Universe line of books and comics featured several novels about the scoundrel’s younger days. The Expanded Universe was officially de-canonized in 2014, but elements from it have been borrowed in the Star Wars universe’s new canon, notably with certain plot points in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s possible, then, that some of Solo’s previously established backstory might make its way back into the Star Wars mainstream.

The stand-alone Han Solo film, expected to be called Han Solo: A Star Wars Story in keeping with this year’s Rogue One, is in preproduction under directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Perhaps anticipating the confirmation of Ehrenreich’s casting, Miller commemorated the “May the 4th” festivities by tweeting out the first official image from the production — Solo’s iconic blaster:

Ehrenreich is also the lead in Warren Beatty’s yet untitled “Howard Hughes project” which will receive a fall release from Fox this year. The 26 year-old actor also gave a stand-out performance this year in Hail, Caesar! He is currently in production on Cinelou’s The Yellow Birds.

The Han Solo film, which Disney is slating for release on May 25th, 2018, will be directed The Lego Movie team of by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The picture will focus on Solo’s days before he linked up with the rebel alliance. Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy is producing. Lawrence Kasdan is exec producing with Jason McGatlin. Kasdan — who wrote Star Wars pics The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens — scripted the new pic with his son Jon Kasdan.

Going back to Episode VIII and Rogue One, among the reveals that were discussed at the Celebration, Johnson confirmed for the first time that Episode VIII would start off where Episode VII left off: when Rey confronts Luke in a scene shot on Ireland’s Skellig Island. “It was a surreal way to start things out,” he said. “I didn’t even really think about the notion that we were going to break a long-standing Star Wars tradition.”

Miller and Lord, meanwhile said they moved to London two days ago and are still working on the script with Star Wars scribe Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, with six months of prep ahead of them. The directors also said they were using many of the same crew that were on Episode VIII and Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One.

“When it first came along I knew everybody would be going out for it,” said Ehrenreich, who revealed he screen-tested with Chewbacca on the Millennium Falcon set during six months of callbacks. “I read the sides and loved them and thought, ‘Who knows, but let me give it a shot.’”

Said Lord: “I relate to Han Solo: He doesn’t want to do anything he’s told, when you tell him not to do something he wants to do it more — he’s very sarcastic and at the end of the day he’s reasonably optimistic. That’s why we got so excited about making this movie: the dichotomy between this grouchy guy with the biggest heart in the galaxy.”

Lucasfilm’s Kennedy introduced Johnson to the stage, saying, “Many of you who know his films, Rian had those sensibilities that combine an ability to have real substance and an amazing sense of humor. Watching him on Episode VIII, I think Rian moves the camera as well as Steven Spielberg.”

Johnson said his approach in thinking about where the story would go was more “based on our reaction to it rather than the cultural reaction to [characters Rey, Finn, Kylo],” he said, noting too among his inspirations for the movie was the 1949 World War II pic Twelve O’Clock High starring Gregory Peck.

Said Johnson: “You come into it with those feelings of deep nostalgia, but you realize your ultimate responsibility to get beyond that, and to tell a story that’s alive for right now. You have to sit in front of Luke Skywalker and have those feelings, and then get to know Mark as an actor and get back into the actual work of filmmaking and telling a story.”

The director said that while Star Wars: The Force Awakens was “this incredible explosion of adventure and excitement, it’s very natural that the second film is where we zoom in on the characters, getting at the heart of the them, challenging them, pushing them deeper.”

He said he was in San Francisco coming up with the story while Gareth Edwards was coming up with Rogue One and Dave Filoni was doing the same for the animated series Star Wars Rebels which is heading to Season 3. “It had this campus-like feel,” Johnson said.

Later, the helmers revealed that Johnson had a cameo in Rogue One and Edwards gets one in Episode VIII. Lord and Miller got fitted for a cameo in Rogue One too, but had to pull out of filming. But it’s OK, says Miller, since, as an ILM intern, he played a stormtrooper during additional filming for the Empire Strikes Back‘s re-release in 1997.

What are your thoughts regarding Alden Ehrenreich as the new Han Solo, and how do you feel about this news coming out of the Star Wars Celebration? Is this a really exciting for the Star Wars franchise, or is there a chance that Disney/Lucasfilm might be bleeding it a bit dry?
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