The most common problem with prequels involves the lack of stakes, since audiences enter the theater with knowledge of the film universe’s future. In theory, this problem should also apply to Solo, the latest in a long line of Star Wars prequels. We all know the story of Han Solo’s unfortunate death in The Force Awakens, so how interesting could his youthful adventures be? But even if the plot of the movie doesn’t contain any real surprises for moviegoers, Han’s high jinks in the film may very well pale in comparison to his journey behind the scenes. The production process for Solo has been long and bumpy, and has led most moviegoers to be curious about one thing in particular: Does Alden Ehrenreich suck? To see how in the world we got to this point, let’s look back at some of the more concerning moments in Ehrenreich’s bumpy ascent to intergalactic stardom.
March 22, 2016: Harrison Ford says, “Don’t do it!”
A few months before Ehrenreich was officially cast as Han Solo, things already looked ominous for whoever would land the part. In an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Harrison Ford offered a “Don’t do it!” to whoever would be cast. “It seems like everything is going swimmingly and you put in 25-30 years and then they just let you go!” he said. “‘We’re done with you, thanks very much.’” Well, Harrison, stop being so damn charming, and maybe they’ll stop rebooting your iconic characters. And Alden, listen to your elders next time. This all could have been avoided.
May 8, 2016: Alden Ehrenreich officially cast as Han Solo
Early short lists for the casting of Han didn’t even include Ehrenreich’s name. The actors who were included weren’t exactly revelatory—Dave Franco and Blake Jenner somehow made the cut—but Ehrenreich’s exclusion from early public conversation may have turned minds against him from the very beginning. A few months later, Ehrenreich was announced as one of three finalists for the role alongside Taron Egerton and Jack Reynor. When Ehrenreich was named as the official choice in May 2016, fan reactions ranged from elated to “It’s a trap!”
October 5, 2016: Directors describe rigorous casting process
In an interview with USA Today, directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller revealed that Ehrenreich was the first of thousands of actors to audition for the role and that he went through what they deemed “an audition pentathlon.” They insisted that he was “the guy from minute one,” which seems fishy considering the rumors that swirled in the months leading to the casting announcement. Would that it were so simple!
February 21, 2017: First look at Alden as Han Solo
In February 2017, the first photo of the Solo cast was released, and with it came concerns about Ehrenreich’s resemblance to a theoretical Young Han. I, for one, think Alden actually bears a pretty close resemblance to Harrison Ford. But that wig is rough, and it plays into my least favorite trope of “character who has inexplicably had the same bad haircut for their entire life.”
June 2017: Lord and Miller leave, Ron Howard steps in amid rumors of Ehrenreich issues
A few months later, things really started to go downhill, as directors Lord and Miller left Solo in the middle of filming, and Ron Howard stepped in to take over. Amid the disastrous week for the movie, The Hollywood Reporter released a detailed report of troubles on set, including word that Lucasfilm was “not entirely satisfied” with Ehrenreich’s performance so far and brought in an acting coach for him. From the THR report, “hiring a coach is not unusual; hiring one that late in production is.” Yikes!
June 22, 2017: Alden Ehrenreich is Space Ventura?
According to anonymous sources via Star Wars News Net, rumors began to fly that Ehrenreich was one of the Solo cast members who voiced concerns over Lord and Miller’s direction. He apparently worried that their “screwball comedy” take on the character was problematic, and one source described Ehrenreich’s portrayal of the character under Lord and Miller as “comparable to Jim Carrey’s performance in Ace Ventura.” OK, so maybe the issues with Ehrenreich’s performance weren’t entirely his fault.
February 5, 2018: First Solo teaser released during Super Bowl
The first teaser for Solo dropped during Super Bowl LII, months later than expected. Good news: Alden didn’t seem completely terrible, and there were no clear Jim Carrey vibes. Bad news: The wig was still pretty atrocious. Reactions seemed split on whether the trailer allayed or exacerbated fears about Ehrenreich’s performance, but at this point, whether or not he could act was the dominating focus leading into the film’s release.
May 10, 2018: Solo premieres in L.A. to praise of Ehrenreich’s performance
The film premiered in Los Angeles to largely positive reactions, including tweets that called Ehrenreich “the real deal” and “super impressive.” The fact most tweets focused on his performance and not Lando’s impressive array of space capes means that things may be looking up for our boy.
May 13, 2018: Harrison gives his blessing(?)
A few days after the premiere, Harrison Ford crashed Ehrenreich’s interview with Entertainment Tonight in a likely staged but surprisingly sweet moment between the Hans. “Remember to never let them tell you the odds,” the Star Wars account tweeted with pictures of the two actors talking outside the set. Granted, Harrison could have been reiterating his “Don’t do it!” sentiment in light of Ehrenreich’s three-movie contract. But it felt more like the OG Han officially gave his blessing, and things are looking up for his space rogue in training.