In 1977, George Lucas brought a galaxy far, far away to life, and in doing so he created a number of beloved characters. One of the most prominent of those was the heroic smuggler Han Solo, portrayed by Harrison Ford.
Now, four decades later, we’ll be getting a movie detailing Solo’s backstory, in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. Though George Lucas isn’t involved anymore – he sold Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012, with Kathleen Kennedy as president – he’s still an integral part of the Star Wars galaxy. And during a visit to the set of Solo, he actually helped direct a small part.
Director Ron Howard, whose working relationship with Lucas goes back to American Graffiti in 1973, invited George Lucas and his wife Melody to the set of the Solo film for what turned out to be a five-hour visit on Howard’s first day as director, as Howard and Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly’s Anthony Breznican this week.
“He had intended to just kind of stop by and say hi, and he stayed five hours,” Kennedy told EW. “There’s even one little moment in a scene that – I can’t tell you what, sorry – but in the scene on the Millennium Falcon where George said, ‘Why doesn’t Han just do this.’”
“It actually is a funny little bit that will probably get a laugh,” she added. “And Ron happened to be by the monitor and not inside the Falcon and he goes, ‘Oh that’s a great idea,’ and ran in and said, ‘George wants us to do this.’ So that was pretty cool. I think George felt pretty great about that. He could revisit these characters, and I think he felt so comfortable, obviously with Ron being there, that it was just fun for him.”
That’s really cool. So there’s a funny little part in one scene that George Lucas helped direct, offering a good suggestion for what Han should do. Lucas is obviously very familiar with the character, and he’s a friend of Howard’s, so it’s the perfect situation for him to offer a suggestion like this. I think it’s really awesome. Hopefully after the film comes out, we’ll figure out what scene it is and what part Lucas helped with.
Lucas was helpful in more than one way, however, as he also gave Ron Howard some advice upon taking the reigns of his first Star Wars film. “He told me just trust my instincts, you know?” Howard told EW. “I know he kind of fundamentally feels like, first and foremost, [these films are] sort of for 12-year-old boys, and yet even he knows that it’s grown so far beyond that, and the fans have grown with the series in a great, important way. So he didn’t offer a lot of advice except, ‘You’ll get this.’” He also told Howard, “just enjoy this.”
A young Han Solo is not a new concept to George Lucas, as he’s been thinking about it for many years. In fact, he toyed with the idea of putting a ten-year old Han Solo in Revenge of the Sith, having been raised by Chewbacca and the Wookiees. Thankfully that didn’t make it into the script, as that would have been a drastic shift to everyone’s understanding of Han’s character, and the Solo film won’t be following that idea. But it nonetheless illustrates the point that George Lucas has thought about the young Solo for a long time. So for him to have a small part in the film actually being realized is really cool.