One of the indications that we’re getting close to the release of a new Star Wars movie is that Entertainment Weekly this past week ran a number of articles about the film, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
EW’s Anthony Breznican talked with several of the actors and people involved in the film to gather as much data as possible about the film and the characters, and becasue the movie is introducing several new characters (as well as some beloved old ones), one of the main things we learned from these features is more about the characters.
Let’s take a look at some of the things we learned about several of the key characters in the upcoming film, which will be released on May 25.
We of course are very familiar with the character of Han Solo, as he’s among the most beloved Star Wars characters ever created. Yet in this film, we’ll get a chance to see what made him the way he is when we first encounter him in A New Hope, and we’ll get to see a slightly different side of Solo. “I think it tells the story of a young man pursuing a dream to get out of his pretty rough upbringing,” actor Alden Ehrenreich told EW, “and a lot of the story is him trying to make this dream come true and finding out that it’s a lot harder than he had imagined.” Ehrenreich said that “one of the things that really shapes him is that [the movie] takes place in a real dark underworld of the Star Wars universe.”
Han grows up without parents and for the most part alone on Corellia (except for Qi’ra), and he’s trying to make a life for himself. When we meet him in A New Hope he’s a bit older and more cynical, but Ehrenreich says that, “I think the main thing that’s different is that the Han we meet in this film is more of an idealist, he has certain dreams that he follows, and we watch how it affects him as those dreams meet new realities, realities that are harder and more challenging than he’d expected.” That dream, according to Ehrenreich, is independence. “Having the resources and stability to call your own shots, do what you want, have freedom, isn’t something that comes easily,” he explained. “So Han’s dream involves making that happen for himself.”
It will be interesting to see how close this version of Han is to the A New Hope version. On the one hand, this is a movie that should really inform our understanding of Han Solo’s character in the other films (and make, for instance, his encounter with his son in The Force Awakens all the more heartbreaking). But on the other hand, in the trailer we heard him say that he’d been running scams on the streets since he was ten, so it seems that he’s at least somewhat of the scoundrel we’re familiar with. These comments from Ehrenreich make sense though, because Han’s had a tough upbringing and is aspiring to a better life, so he’s very idealistic. Perhaps this movie will show why some of that disappeared throughout the years.
Any movie with Han Solo must feature his faithful co-pilot and best friend, Chewbacca. “To me, this is a love story between Han and Chewie,” co-writer Lawrence Kasdan told EW. “Their relationship has always been my favorite part of the saga, and the fact that only Han understands what Chewie is saying, I find a very funny possibility for comedy.”
The beginnings of that relationship will be explored in this film, but it’s possible that it will take a while for it to resemble the relationship we’re used to, as Chewie might not initially be too eager to let Han in. “Wookiees have so many positive qualities,” Kasdan said. “But what they don’t do is make it easy for you to get in.”
The old EU reasoning for how Han met Chewie was that Solo freed the Wookiee from slavery, thus earning Chewbacca’s life debt. It remains to be seen whether that has been kept as canon in this movie, but the fact that we’ll see Kessel seems to suggest that it will at least be something similar. I’d imagine some of the film’s most touching moments will be between Han and Chewbacca, as we’ll see them meet and develop the beginnings of their legendary friendship. As Kasdan said, it’s a love story between those two.
One of the most significant newcomers to the saga in Solo is Qi’ra, played by Game of Thrones veteran Emilia Clarke. Qi’ra is a long-time friend of Han Solo’s, having grown up with him on Corellia. “Well, they grew up as comrades, essentially,” Clarke told EW. “They grew up as pals, as partners in crime. There is obviously the romantic side of things. But they grew up together. So they were kids together. And the beautiful thing about this Han Solo story is it’s highlighting all of the most brilliant aspects of Han Solo the character and characterizing those aspects in characters that he meets on his journey to becoming who he is.” Note that Clarke acknowledged that there is a romantic side to their relationship, but also revealed that the two of them go way back. Ehrenreich explained that Qi’ra is a very important person in Han’s life, but that she knows how to work the system better than he does (as he just goes against it).
The difficulty with a character like Qi’ra, however, is that she doesn’t appear anywhere in the original trilogy, and there must be an explanation for that – one that will impact Han’s character while also not seeming like a plot-hole that she’s not mentioned later. “Something must happened to affect him as a person, but for us fans not to know about her,” Clarke agreed. “Twists happen, and there is this great idea of trust — and who do you trust and how do you trust? And which side of the tracks are either character from — or going to?” It seems that there is an aura of mystery and intrigue surrounding her character, as that statement and others suggest that perhaps Qi’ra isn’t as trustworthy as she might look. “It is. Mystery. There is a thing throughout the relationship you just can’t put your finger on,” Clarke explains. “And that’s Qi’ra. Every time you think you have got her number you realize you haven’t at all. Which is really hard to play. The goal is that the shadow of Qi’ra is there in Han as a character that we know. This girl is another texture that makes up who he is when we first meet him.”
Clarke described Qi’ra’s story as one of survival, as she’s just trying to get by in this corrupt underworld. At the same time, she gets her moments to shine. “And whilst it is Han Solo’s movie, this girl gets to be badass,” Clarke says. “And strong. And has her own journey. Qi’ra’s journey is definitely one of survival and strength. The way that I felt about her was yeah this girl has got a core of steel.”
It’s funny that in a movie about and named for Han Solo, Lando Calrissian is the one fans are most excited to see. That’s a testament to Donald Glover’s portrayal of the character, which fans are excited to see more of. But what’s different about the lovable swindler at this point in his life as compared to when we meet him in The Empire Strikes Back? “I think he’s probably a little more over the top because he’s not old enough to be like, you don’t have to push so hard by the time you own the city,” Donald Glover told EW. “By then he’s like, I don’t need to prove anything to anybody, you know?”
Glover also said that, “He likes to know his way in and out of any situation that he’s in. Lando likes rules because he’s somebody who is in a position to benefit from rules.” Why? “He’s smart enough to figure out a way to like get out of things, like loopholes, and I think Han is more of a rule breaker and he can kind of get away with it.”
It will be awesome to see Lando again, and I’m super excited to see Glover’s portrayal of him. From the looks of it, Lando is thriving at this point: he’s got a super fancy ship (the Millennium Falcon), has a longtime working relationship with L3-37, is still dressing very nice, and knows how to play the system. Oh, and he also knows how to play Sabacc, which Glover confirmed he’s playing at the table we see him pictured at. I wonder if it’s a certain game of Sabacc in particular… one we’ve heard about, maybe?
The latest addition to Star Wars’s legacy of droid characters is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37, who is Lando Calrissian’s droid sidekick in the film (and who even does the salute with Lando). But make no mistake: she’s self-made. “She’s a self-modified droid,” co-writer Jon Kasdan told EW. “The idea is that she’s sort of a mutt, if you will, of various parts of different kinds of droids who has improved upon herself.” L3 is described as a self-made, intelligent, funny droid with a strong personality who has been working with Lando for years.
“She’s a complete individual in the galaxy,” Kasdan said. “We wanted to have it be a completely different kind of droid than you’ve ever seen in the movies. And we definitely wanted it to be a female. We thought it was more than time for that.”
Veteran actor Woody Harrelson plays Han Solo’s mentor, Tobias Beckett, and his character will obviously have a significant impact on the young Solo’s life. “Well, he really shapes Han really more than anybody, as Han comes to realize that in a lawless time he needs to try to come to terms with some kind of moral code,” director Ron Howard told EW.
The EW piece also mentions that Beckett is based somewhat off of the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island: an experienced veteran criminal who hasn’t had much success. From the trailer, we know that he’s putting together a crew, one that will include Han, Chewie, Qi’ra, Lando, L3, and Val. Beckett probably has some big goal in mind, but we don’t know what that is yet. He seems to be a career criminal and scoundrel, and he’ll have a very big influence (whether good or bad) on the young Solo as a mentor-type character.
Another newcomer, Val (played by Thandie Newton), is a long-time partner of Beckett, which is how she meets Han in the film. Beyond that, however, even EW couldn’t get much information on the mysterious character.
“I will say at first glance, doesn’t necessarily have total faith in Han — as a lot of people he meets in his life tend to feel about him,” Jon Kasdan told EW. “She’s a little skeptical of this kid when she meets him. And her relationship with him goes in, I think, an … interesting direction.”
An interesting direction? Hmm, there is a lot of intrigue around her character. And the more Lucasfilm tries to keep it secret – and hints at an interesting direction in their relationship – the more the Sana Starros speculation might continue. At the very least Val looks similar to Sana, and it would certainly be an interesting turn in the relationship. But we’ll see.
Entertainment Weekly also got a bit of information about Paul Bettany’s character, named Dryden Vos. “It’s a sort of combination of class and swagger and real danger which I think is a fun thing, and he absolutely inhabits it,” Jon Kasdan said. “He’s way deeper in the crime world than anyone else that we meet in the movie.” He’s a rule-breaker but doesn’t like to get personally involved in getting his hands dirty, and it seems he’s a player in the criminal realms.
Of course, upon seeing the last name “Vos” Star Wars fans immediately think of Quinlon Vos, but Lucasfilm told EW that the names are simply a coincidence (though, admittedly, the idea of a story group simply having a coincidence like that is a bit strange).