Disney has chosen Alden Ehrenreich to portray the young Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars spinoff. An impressive performance during his test screening moved him to the front of the pack ahead of other talented young actors including Taron Egerton and Jack Reynor, according to Deadline.
Harrison Ford originated the character of Han Solo in 1977’s Star Wars. The new movie will show the events of the smuggler’s life before Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi hired him to transport them to Alderaan on his ship, the Millennium Falcon. There are no other plot details available.
Ehrenreich, 26, recently gave a head-turning performance in the Coen brothers’ feature, Hail, Caesar!. He also starred in the 2013 fantasy romance, Beautiful Creatures and got his big break thanks to Steven Spielberg.
Here’s everything you need to know.
1. The ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff Film Will Tell the Origin of Han Solo
Audiences will finally learn what Han Solo was doing with his life before he met Luke Skywalker and the debate of “Who Shot First?” was reserved for the American Revolution. Disney has not released too many details about the Star Wars spinoff film, which is tentatively titled, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, according to Deadline.
Ehrenreich will star as the title character in the film directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The role was originated by Harrison Ford in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. He returned for three more films including 1980’s Stars Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (Episode V), 1983’s Return of the Jedi (Episode VI) and 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII).
The solo Han Solo movie is part of the Star Wars Anthology films which also includes this year’s Rogue One and an upcoming movie centered on the bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Director Miller released the first look at his Han Solo movie on Twitter with a photo of the smuggler’s blaster to celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4.
2. Ehrenreich Was Discovered by Steven Spielberg at a Bat Mitzvah
Ehrenreich and his friend Johnny grew up making fun, stupid movies. They impressed at least one friend, who asked them to make one of their films for her bat mitzvah. The actor, 14 years old at the time, starred in the movie about a teenager obsessed with a girl. He snuck into her bedroom and sang a song about her.
The young filmmakers first previewed the movie for their parents who gave them less than positive feedback. “We showed it to our parents and they all said, ‘You can’t let anybody see this because you look like a moron.’ And we said, ‘Nah, we don’t care,'” Ehrenreich told Conan O’Brien on Conan.
Despite their parents’ hesitation, the film screened at the party and was seen by none other than Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg, who attend the bat mitzvah. The director’s production company DreamWorks contacted Ehrenreich and he met with the head of casting, Leslee Feldman.
He told Buzzfeed that he initially thought the call from DreamWorks was a prank call.
They brought me into DreamWorks, and Leslee [and I] had a conversation. I don’t remember really what we talked about, but based on that validation, I was able to get an agent. Just him making that phone call, I could have a career — not that I was really looking for one. … It’s still really surreal to me that someone — who’s not only such a great filmmaker, but such a great person – took that interest in me and was a part of my life in any way.
3. He Has Worked With A Number of Big Named Directors Like the Coen Brothers and Francis Ford Coppola
Ehrenreich made his feature film debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro (2008) and grabbed his next movie role in the legendary director’s 2011 film, Twixt. His work with Oscar-winning directors also includes Woody Allen (2013’s Blue Jasmine), Joel and Ethan Coen (2016’s Hail, Caesar) and the upcoming Howard Hughes movie from Warren Beatty.
The 26-year-old actor took a couple TV guest spots in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Supernatural while still in high school, but chose to wait until he graduate to audition for more roles. He told Buzzfeed that he wanted to keep his time as an adolescent as normal as possible.
It wasn’t a huge priority for me to get work at that time. Like, I would audition for what’s out there, but it was just more important to me and my family for me to have, like, a normal upbringing. There are a lot of examples of [child stars] who come out fine, but you never know. It just must shape your childhood in a way. I’m glad that I had the upbringing I did where I was just part of what everyone else was a part of.
He attended New York University for a few years, but never finished his degree. While in New York, he co-founded the theater group, The Collectin, with his friend Zoë Worth, who he later starred with in the film, Running Wild.
4. The ‘Hail, Caesar’ Star Learned Learned How to Lasso Spaghetti for the Film
The Coen brothers personally called Ehrenreich to deliver the news that he had been cast in their new movie, Hail, Caesar! In preparation for the role of Hobie Doyle, the actor trained with horses for six weeks and learned the fundamentals or roping. His training also included how to lasso the Italian food staple — spaghetti.
From the horseback riding to the gun twirling to the trick roping and everything, trying to lasso spaghetti was definitely the most complicated because there’s no precedent. You don’t have, like, a spaghetti roper you can go ask how to do it!
5. Ehrenreich Feared Becoming a Teen Heartthrob
Ehrenreich broke out in the 2013 fantasy film Beautiful Creatures, which is about a young man who falls in love with the new girl in town, who is a witch. The movie drew comparisons to The Twilight Saga, which also portrayed a human and non-human relationship. Ehrenreich and his co-star Alice Englert also got compared to the Twilight stars Rob Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. MTV even pondered, “Beautiful Creatures Stars: The New Rob and Kristen?”
The actor didn’t let the romance rumors get in the way of his work. He told Buzzfeed:
There was a lot of talk about Twilight and a lot of things like that, and I didn’t have that much to say about it, I guess. I got to work with Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons. And I was doing it for the same reasons I’d do any other movie. So all of the rest of it was kind of out of my hands.