6 fun spoiler-free facts about ‘SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY’

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Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy of Lucasfilm.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is back – only this time he’s younger and hungrier. In director Ron Howard’s SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, we see the beloved space scoundrel coming-of-age in a galaxy far, far away.

At the film’s recent Los Angeles press conference, we learned a few fun facts about the unabashedly fun, compelling character-driven spin-off.

Ron Howard, Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan. Courtesy of Lucasfilm/ Disney.

Ron Howard approached this like he did The Beatles.

Howard took on a huge responsibility when tackling The Beatles’ career with his 2016 documentary, THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS. He felt the same sense when it came to saying “yes” when Lucasfilm came a’ callin’.

I’m at a point in my life where I like experimenting. I like to take some chances. I’m not too worried about the outcome. I wanted to have the creative experience and I sort of felt that way about jumping into a STAR WARS movie. I could tell from the moment it was announced, Ron, don’t f*ck this up.

You can thank the Cantina scene for giving birth to SOLO.

Co-writer Jonathan Kasdan said that the infamous scene was what provided the creative spark to write this spin-off.

The story hadn’t been bubbling for a long time. What had been bubbling for me was from the moment, when I was relatively young, and I first saw Han Solo in the Cantina and I immediately sparked to him. He lifted up the whole movie instantly. But at that moment I thought, “Oh, this movie’s just got me.” This is a character who’s reckless, who’s cynical, who doesn’t trust anybody. He just does things he shouldn’t do. He gets in over his head instantly and you can see that in the brilliance of George Lucas’s Cantina scene. It’s just a few minutes and you get everything about who this guy is.

Joonas Suotamo in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy of Lucasfilm/ Disney.

The new Chewbacca no longer lives with his mom.

Joonas Suotamo, the actor disguised as “young Chewbacca,” was a relative unknown when he got the highly covetable role.

This was a life-changer for me. I was borderline jobless  when I got this role. My now fiancée – my then girlfriend – has seen me going from living with my mom, to becoming Chewbacca. That’s the span of our relationship right now.

It’s funny because this character is so loved and Peter Mayhew, who created this character along with George Lucas, has been so instrumental in giving me his blessing – and some tips in our week-long session together, how to be this character. I never could have understood what went on underneath the mask of Peter Mayhew. And now that I got to know that, it was so easy going into shooting this film.

Emilia Clarke in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy of Lucasfilm/ Disney.

Qi’ra is the noir-influenced narrative’s femme fatale.

In the film, Emilia Clarke plays “Qi’ra,” a woman with more than a few mysterious motivations. In terms of the genre, in which this film bends and fold many different ones into the mix, she’s the epitome of the classic Hollywood femme fatale.

Playing mysterious is quite difficult note, I’ve got to be honest. It was really fun. She is a pretty mysterious character.  You kind of need to keep tabs on her throughout the movie. We meet her quite early on with Han and then they’re separated, and when we find her again, she seems to have lived a pretty dark life in that time. 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. I think that’s a question that kind of keeps coming up throughout the movie.

Paul Bettany in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy of Lucasfilm/ Disney.

Paul Bettany flubbed his first take because he hugged Chewbacca.

Most of Paul Bettany’s professional training went out the window once Chewbacca became his scene partner. During their character’s introduction, instead of shaking Chewbacca’s hand, Bettany leaned in to give him a hug like an old friend – as anyone in that situation would do. However, as the wealthy, petulant Dryden Vos, these two were very much not pals.

I blew my first take. I had to shake hands with Chewbacca. And I kind of started shaking his hand and I went in for a cuddle. Everybody was really relaxed about it.

Donald Glover in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Courtesy of Lucasfilm/ Disney.

Lando’s capes are the legit business.

One of the many things Lando Calrissian is known for is his staggering sense of style. And the costume designers on SOLO did not disappoint – particularly when it comes to the capes co-star Donald Glover gets to sport. His favorite?

At the end of the film, there’s like a tiny white summer cape. It’s not functional at all. A summer cape is literally just more fabric on your back. Makes a statement  like, “I’m not giving up on this cape thing.” I love that cape, because it really is just all flare. 

Glover was not able to take any of his absolutely magnificent capes home with him. Well, at least not in their original form.

The fur cape I had, they had extra material and they made a pillow out of it for me.  And now I have a pillow.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY opens on May 25.Read our review here.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.