The cast and crew of Solo: A Star Wars Story is in the final PR push before the epic takes a bow Friday.
They talked to Variety to discuss the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in the summer of 2017, four months into filming.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy famously then hired Ron Howard to replace them, adding four more months to the shooting schedule and raising the budget to $250 million. Howard shot about 70% of Solo, they reveal, and he landed the sole director credit, while Lord and Miller nabbed exec producer acknowledgements. Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, who's shepherded the series since 1980's Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, said he knew early on that Lord and Miller weren’t a fit. "Tone is everything to me. That's what movies are made of," he said. "But this was a very complicated situation. When you go to work in the morning on a Star Wars movie, there are thousands of people waiting for you, and you have to be very decisive and very quick about it." Lawrence added that he was only willing to so far to change the story. "What we were very defensive of and wanted to have succeed was this tone, because this is not like any other Star Wars movie. Its connection to Star Wars is only in its spirit. It's Han's tone. It has very little to do with ANew Hope. That's a different thing we've seen play out in six or seven movies. This tone is reckless and unpredictable and feckless, as Han is. There is no Force. There's no real Empire. This is about people scrabbling along," he said, explaining that some elements are non-negotiable. "They're not trying to save the galaxy."
THE CAST REACTS
For the cast, the disruption was astronomical. "I've tried to use this as an opportunity to navigate pressure and what other people think," Alden Ehrenreich said. "That pressure is always there on every movie. This is just a very intensified version of that. For me it's about 'What do I have control over?' And it's very little.""On a personal level, it felt emotional, for them to be going after we'd set out on that course together. Because I spent a lot of time with them, and we had a really good relationship—they also cast me," the film's lead said. "But I think at that point, they were kind of on board with [the decision], too. Like, 'This is what's happening.' That's not what they said to me, but that was the vibe I got."Emilia Clarke greeted the change-up with joy. “This is a movie that has an enormous amount of pressure on its shoulders, therefore everybody making it feels some of that pressure. So when Ron came on, for me it felt amazing to be able to have a second set of eyes come in at this point in making the movie. How often do you get that chance to go back and try different things?" Before Ron was hired, Emilia was nervous, she said."I texted Jon Kasdan about six times going, 'What? Really? You're joking. We're not that lucky, surely, to get Ron Howard to come and take the movie on,'" she said. "Any fears were wiped away pretty quickly."Donald Glover, meanwhile, was just happy to be there. "I wanted to play Lando. That was it," the actor explained. "Everything else was secondary in that moment."Meanwhile, Howard also shared an insight George Lucas gave him in handling Han’s character’s handling of Qi’ra’s (Clarke) cloak. “He said, ‘You know, Han wouldn’t bother to hang it up,’” Howard told Variety. “And then he sort of did it. George became Han Solo for a second. The body language was there and the attitude. Not only was it a nice accent on the scene, but it was also a reminder that George created this character and really understood him. He was so reluctant [to offer his opinion], and yet the choice was so right that it was fun to use it.” Solo hits theaters Friday, May 25th.