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Harrison Ford Gave Alden Ehrenreich Some Secret Han Solo Tips

It was out of a reported 2,500 actors that Lucasfilm chose Alden Ehrenreich as their young Han Solo. We have to imagine that getting the role was genuinely amazing, and also totally terrifying, for Ehrenreich, since it meant being tasked with the seemingly impossible: filling Harrison Ford‘s shoes. But it turns out that even though he said he wasn’t going to be involved with the movie, Ford gave Ehrenreich some intimate insights to understanding what makes our favorite space smuggler tick.

Entertainment Weekly couldn’t get much out of Ehrenreich himself about what Ford said to him about playing Han Solo when the two met last January before production began, seeing as Ford swore his young padawan to secrecy. But other important people involved with the movie were more forthcoming about how Ford influenced the movie, namely Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director Ron Howard.

As Kennedy told EW, Ford, who approved of both the script and Ehrenreich, regaled Ehrenreich with his memories of talking about Han Solo with George Lucas. Kennedy said that “invaluable” insight led to times on set where Ehrenreich “would actually recount some of the things that Harrison had pointed out.” That means conversations Ford and Lucas had on the set of A New Hope in 1977 influenced Ehrenreich’s performance in Solo 40 years later, which should help a story set a few years before the events of the original film.

Even this degree of participation from Ford might surprise some fans; the actor has publicly said he wasn’t going to be involved with the movie, and hinted he wasn’t thrilled about the entire project anyway. In 2016 he even half-jokingly/half-seriously said his best advice to any actor who took the part was “don’t do it.”

Clearly, Ford changed his tune somewhere along the line. Director Ron Howard said when he signed on to the film after Chris Miller and Phil Lord departed the project, he also reached out to Ford, who it turns out had been putting a lot of thought into the movie and character despite his public comments. “He said that Han is always torn between that sense that he was, in a way, an orphan, and therefore both yearned for connection with people and struggled with it at the same time,” said Howard.

Based on the trailer, these insights look like they will greatly influence Solo. They offer context to an important part of the movie’s trailer: when Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra says to Han, “I might be the only person who knows what you really are.” This prompts unease in Han, who first tries to laugh it off before he becomes visibly uncomfortable.

That idea of Han being an orphan who longs for personal connections while also being afraid of them also makes his friendship with Chewbacca even more meaningful. Chewie will likely be the first person in Han’s life whom he’ll trust wouldn’t abandon him, since a Wookiee wouldn’t break a sworn life debt. And now that you know young Han Solo thought of himself as an orphan, try not to cry rewatching The Force Awakens when he offers Rey a home on the Millennium Falcon.

Howard also said Ford talked to him a lot about how Han Solo is “never sure he’s as quite as smart as he needs to be,” and that leads to him not “being on top” of things as much as he probably should be, which is why he’s constantly finding himself needing to escape tough situations. That’s another important element of the character we should expect to see incorporated into both the film and Ehrenreich’s performance, which shows Han at the start of his smuggling career. “So he wants to give the appearance of [control], but in fact, he’s often scrambling,” said Howard, “I think Harrison played that beautifully, and Alden and I talked about both of those ideas a lot.”

We know the Han Solo we meet in this movie won’t be the same person we met in A New Hope—it wouldn’t be a story worth telling if he was—but a cocky, insecure young pilot who is trying to convince everyone, including himself, that he’s in control of his life means we’ll still recognize the character we know and love.

And that’s because Harrison Ford cared about Han Solo enough to make sure he shared what he knows about him, even if he didn’t want us to know how much he cared. Should sound familiar to Star Wars fans.

What do you think of what Ford said about Han? How will it influence the movie? Tell us in the comments below.

Images: Lucasfilm

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