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Why Alden Ehrenreich could be great casting as Han Solo

NEWS - NEWS ANALYSIS

But will the cowboy from Hail, Caesar! shoot first or not...?

It's being reported that Alden Ehrenreich is in final talks to play Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars anthology prequel movie. Though initially surprising, this could turn out to be a great move.

[Mild spoilers for Hail, Caesar! and the Star Wars saga follow.]

Though it may seem that no-one other than Harrison Ford, Nathan Fillion, or Chris Pratt could do justice to the character of Han Solo, the next best thing is someone who's talented, likeable, and can play a character perfectly. Alden Ehrenreich displayed those qualities in the Coen brothers' quirky comedy about the search for meaning, Hail, Caesar!, as the old-fashioned cowboy actor Hobie Doyle, the most straight-shooting and noble of the characters in the film (though the actress that the studio sets him up with, Carlotta, seems like a nice person too).

It's interesting that both Hobie Doyle and Han Solo are essentially cowboys, who don't fit in with most of those around them; but are nevertheless in some ways opposites.

Hobie Doyle, an actor who specialises in playing cowboys, is ironic for the film in that he essentially has no irony; he is who he portrays onscreen, in contrast to all the other actors and filmmakers, whose lives are essentially smoke and mirrors.

(Interestingly, the studio's attempts to put him into this mould are kind of subverted; he struggles (despite his best efforts) at playing a 'sophisticated' leading man in a drawing room drama, and also when the studio sets him up with Carlotta, the two genuinely get on, turning the studio's attempt at creating yet another false image into something serendipitously genuine.)

Hobie Doyle is a cowboy in the sense that he's old-fashioned, and seems to live by an inherent sense of honour. He naturally seeks to help Josh Brolin's Harry Mannix, for no other reason than that it's the right thing to do.

Conversely, Han Solo is a cowboy in the sense that he belongs in the wild west of space. He doesn't live by the rules that everyone else does, and relishes his status as a scoundrel. He later reluctantly turns hero in order to help out his friends in the Rebel Alliance.

Thus, Alden Ehrenreich is essentially cast against type as Han Solo, the paladin turned scoundrel. This is a bold choice – bold as Solo himself – but could actually work, since we already know that he can lend a character a sense of nobility. This could help to keep the audience invested in Han's pre-Rebel Alliance days, foreshadowing the fact that he's not just a scoundrel, but there's more to him, a somewhat buried heroic side which will eventually surface (and may well do at certain points throughout the upcoming movie).

The Han Solo prequel movie (which could perhaps be called Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, if they want to be consistent with Rogue One's title format) will be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, The Lego Movie), from a script by Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens) and his son Jon Kasdan, and is expected to feature Chewbacca significantly. (Wookiee roar of anticipation.) It's planned for release in 2018.


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