By Jim Frye
Solo: A Star Wars Story, which launches Han, Chewie, and Lando on their first adventures together in the galactic underworld, arrives in theaters May 25. To help christen, so to speak, everyone’s favorite space cowboy and his faithful co-pilot on their maiden voyage in the Millennium Falcon, the cast and filmmakers gathered for a press conference ahead of the film’s debut. Here are 10 things they revealed:
1. Director Ron Howard likes to use practical effects in addition to CGI.
“As great as visual effects and CGI are,” Howard said, “the effect supervisors will tell you in-camera is always what you want to go for first. With the Millennium Falcon and the great sets and so forth, the approach always was to try to get as much in-camera as you could.” He continues: “What’s so magical and amazing about ILM and what they can do—is they make the experience as palpable and immersive as it could possibly be.”
2. Co-Writer Lawrence Kasdan is one of Han Solo’s biggest fans.
“When I was relatively young, and I first saw Han Solo in the cantina I immediately sparked to him,” Kasdan said. “He lifted up the whole movie instantly and I loved the movie. But at that moment I thought, oh, this movie’s just got me. This is the kind of character that I have loved always and it’s been so important in all the movies that I care about. This is a character who’s reckless, who’s cynical, who doesn’t trust anybody.”
3. Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) had two responses to the Millennium Falcon.
“Being in the Millennium Falcon is very, very cool,” Ehrenreich said. “For me it was two things: One, you get in and you can’t believe you’re in it and it’s so surreal… And then a couple months into shooting in it, you’re inside of it and you’re flying it. You know where the buttons are, you know how the chair feels, and you feel like, OK, this is kind of like my ship now. And that is deeply gratifying.”
4. Donald Glover (Lando) reeeeally wanted the part.
“I told my agent, ‘If they’re making anything with Lando in it, I have to be Lando.’ He was like, ‘I hear you—but I don’t like your odds.’ And that was exactly what I needed to hear, because I auditioned like it was the only role I wanted in the world,” said Glover. “I’m just really happy to be part of this experience.”
5. Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) attended a “Chewie Boot Camp” with Peter Mayhew.
“It’s funny, because this character is so loved and Peter Mayhew, who created this character, along with George Lucas, has been so instrumental helping and giving me his blessing and giving me some tips in our weeklong session together, how to be this character,” said Suotamo. “It was fun because I never could have understood what went on underneath the mask of Peter Mayhew.”
6. It’s hard for Emilia Clarke to discuss her character, Qi’ra.
“It’s really difficult to talk about because she is a pretty mysterious character,” Clarke said. “We meet her quite early on with Han and then they’re separated for whatever reason, and when we find her again, she seems to have lived a pretty dark life in that time. So when you re-find her, you can’t quite figure out what it is that’s happened to her in the time that you haven’t been with her and who it is that she is now.”
7. Woody Harrelson says it was easy to identify with his character, Beckett.
“I thought it was a really easy character for me to play, because he’s a scoundrel and a thief,” Harrelson joked. “For a lot of people who are Star Wars fanatics, this is their favorite Star Wars character, which was really cool. Larry and Jonathan really wrote an extraordinary script and Ron came in and did his magic.”
8. Thandie Newton (Val) loved the camaraderie on the set.
“The production design is so amazing,” said Newton. ”We would feel like we were in real sort of battle scenarios with explosions going off and debris and mud in places you didn’t even know you had places… That camaraderie was really felt. We were really going into battle together. I mean, obviously, a sort of fantasy, fun battle, but we’re still going into battle.”
9. Phoebe Waller-Bridge called her character, L3-37, a revolutionary droid.
“She creates herself out of astromech droids and protocol droids so she turns herself into a unique creature that’s kind of taller, stronger… more independent than she originally was,” Waller-Bridge said. “She’s fearless, she’s uncensored, she’s very funny, she’s a revolutionary, and she has an agenda, which is bigger than the sum of her parts.”
10. Paul Bettany is super happy about being a bad guy.
“It was just lovely to play somebody—having come from Avengers where Vision is fundamentally good—to somebody who’s just deliciously bad,” said Bettany. “I’m really okay with it. No neurosis. No guilt. Just super happy about being evil.”