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Michael K. Williams’ “Half-Mountain Lion” SOLO Character You Won’t Get to See

It was genuinely shocking when Lucasfilm announced directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord would be leaving Solo: A Star Wars Story over creative differences, not because talented directors never get replaced, but because shooting on the film was almost completely finished. Even crazier was that Lucasfilm wanted a very different movie requiring massive re-shoots, all while still keeping its May 2018 release date, and that was why Miller and Lord’s replacement Ron Howard had no time to waste getting to work. Unfortunately that meant one of our favorite actors, Michael K. Williams, had to be completely cut from the film since he was no longer available. But now we know a lot more about the version of the character he was supposed to play, because in a new interview he talked about how he was a rival suitor to Han Solo, along with how how crazy the whole situation was, which seems to point at just how unhappy Lucasfilm was with the original movie they were getting.

Williams was a guest on Sirius XM’s Jim and Sam Show with Jim Norton and Sam Roberts, which we first heard about at io9, when he was asked about what happened with him and the film. Williams said he was playing Dryden Vos, now played by Paul Bettany. We still don’t know a ton about Vos, a successful crime boss, but Williams described his version as “half-mountain lion, half-human.” That might be a way of explaining the character’s personality, but it might be more literal than you’d guess, because when Williams originally left the movie his character was described as half-human, half-animal.

But this picture of Bettany in the role shows that if Williams’ Vos really was half-animal, Howard changed that.

If Williams’ Vos wasn’t all human, the change could have been as simple as not wanting to slow down the re-shoots by requiring Bettany to spend hours in the makeup chair. We might not know for a while though, until we see what else Howard did with Bettany’s take. Because Williams said his Vos, an “extremely sophisticated, very rich” older guy who “had been around the world,” was in a kind of love triangle in the movie with Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra and Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo.

“Not where it was overtly a love triangle, but there was definitely a pissing contest going on for the girl’s attention. He’s old and one is younger, so it was that thing also going on, like ‘Young buck, I’ve been around the world.’ But he’s like ‘The young chick wants the young buck.’ So there was a little bit of that energy going on. But the relationship that was on the paper was definitely with Qi’Ra and Han Solo. But it there was definitely some energy going on.

There has been no hint in any of the teasers or trailers that there is any kind of love triangle in the movie, either implicit or explicit, but there has definitely been a sexual tension between Qi’Ra and Han. Adding another, much more successful suitor to oppose Han’s pursuit of her would add an interesting dynamic. Is it possible Howard thought that would be more believable if Clarke wasn’t flirting with a mountain lion? Did Lucasfilm think that was too silly, which was a reflection of Miller and Lord’s reportedly more lighthearted film they didn’t want? Or will it turn out that has been totally eliminated?

Until we get some concrete answers we’ll have fun speculating, especially because Williams’ comments about the director switch are too intriguing not to wonder about. It wasn’t that he wasn’t willing to do re-shoots; it was that he was contractually unavailable until November, and Lucasfilm didn’t have time to wait for him and make their May release date. Especially because they wanted Williams’ part completely re-shot, which might hint at some major changes for Bettany’s version of the character–beyond not being a lion, and the entire movie too.

He said Lord and Miller were moving the franchise in a direction “that wasn’t working” for Lucasfilm, and Ron Howard was brought on to “steer it back in the opposite direction.” After a few days of “assessing the damage,” Howard told them massive re-shoots were needed “to save it,” even though according to Williams 80% of the movie was done.

It certainly sounds like Lucasfilm was really unhappy with the movie Lord and Miller were delivering them (that’s an understatement), but how did they let them get so far along before coming to that realization? They didn’t know at the halfway point it wasn’t working for them? If that sounds nuts to you, Williams agrees. “I’ve been in Hollywood enough to know anything can happen, and I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit,” he said,” That was one for the textbooks. That was just so out of left field.”

Yes it was. But forget a textbook: one day we hope they put Miller and Lord’s version of the film on a Blu-ray so we can see just how different it would have been. Especially if it included Michael K. Williams as a half-mountain lion hitting on Emilia Clarke.

What do you make of these comments? What does it tell us about the movie we’ll get? Does it make you wish Lord and Miller were allowed to finish their version? Don’t keep your thoughts solo, but share them with us in the comments below.

Images: Jim and Sam Show, Lucasfilm

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