Ron Howard Emilia Clarke Alden alden
Ron Howard Emilia Clarke Alden alden

'Solo' Cast on Getting Harrison Ford's Blessing and Expanding the 'Star Wars' Universe

For Variety’s recent cover story, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” stars Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke, along with director Ron Howard, broke down their experience working on the movie and personal connections to a galaxy far, far away.

Howard said that Harrison Ford, the original Han Solo, gave the film his blessing. “He said, ‘I didn’t invent the Han Solo character, I played him and I brought something to it and now it’s Alden’s turn to make the character his own,’ recognizing the spirit of that character,” Howard recalled.

The director joined the project mid-shoot, after production had gotten off track and he was brought in clarify the film’s vision. The appeal of taking on “Solo” was a personal one, as Howard said he connected with the main character’s journey.

“It was more inviting for me in a way because it’s not a sequel,” he said. “It uses a familiar character, certainly it’s true to the spirit of the ‘Star Wars’ movies and the galaxy, but it was a single adventure story about one character. It’s not a war movie, it’s not an ensemble piece, although it has a great cast. It’s really about, here’s this guy and the relationships that are going to shape his destiny and the action, events, challenges that are going to test him along the way.”

Of handling the pressure of portraying such an iconic character, Ehrenreich said, ” I’ve tried to use this whole experience as an opportunity to get really good at navigating pressure and what other people think. That pressure is always there on every movie, you always want to do a good job, you always want people to like the movie and this is just a very intensified version of that. Learning that lesson, it’s a nice thing to hold on to.”

Clarke chimed in, “I have to say though, the way Alden handled the pressure was genuinely brilliant and a lesson for all of us to be able to see he did it with such grace and poise.”

The “Game of Thrones” star plays Kira, a new character to the “Star Wars” universe. “The complexity that Kira kind of resides in throughout the whole movie is unique I think, for her to be a woman in this environment and being able to play that complexity and being able to play that kind of mystery with regards to where does she stand,” Clarke said. “Is she good, is she not good? That classically doesn’t always go to the female role.”

The two stars also reflected on their first “Star Wars” experience. Clarke says she embraced the franchise as an adult with “The Force Awakens,” while Ehrenreich has been a fan since he was 5. “I would pretend to be on the Millennium Falcon and all that stuff you do when you’re a kid,” he said.

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