While it seems likely we’ll never fully know what happened on the set of the still-untitled Han Solo “Star Wars” spinoff feature, the first of what seems to be an inevitable stream of new reports has revealed a mess of new information. And what a mess it is.
Over at The Hollywood Reporter, Kim Masters weighs in on the kerfuffle, detailing a divided production hindered by a series of philosophical disconnects and differences that apparently could not be overcome by either recently fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller or Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy.
The new report holds that “matters had already reached a boiling point in mid-June,” just days before Kennedy fired Lord and Miller, as the directors’ more relaxed shooting style — THR specifically mentions a day when they didn’t start shooting until 1P.M., and only utilized three setups as opposed to the dozen or so that Kennedy is used to — continued to rile Kennedy.
As has been reported elsewhere over the course of the last week, screenwriter and “Star Wars” mainstay Lawrence Kasdan was also “said to be displeased.” The scribe was apparently particularly unhappy with Lord and Miller’s free-wheeling style of direction, one that often relied on the kind of improvisation he loathes (Kasdan is a stickler for line-readings that reflect exactly what is on the page).
That philosophy may have been the biggest hurdle for the pair to overcome, however, as THR reports that “sources say they relied too heavily on the improvisational style that served them so well in live-action comedy and animation but does not work on a set with hundreds of crew members waiting for direction.” (The outlet also shares that Lord and Miller, eager to appease, would shoot takes both with precise line-readings and with more improvisational elements.)
But it wasn’t just Kennedy and Kasdan who were unhappy, Lord and Miller were also reeling. Per a source to THR, “there were ‘deep fundamental philosophical differences’ in filmmaking styles, this person says, and the directors felt they were being given ‘zero creative freedom.’ They also felt they were being asked to operate under ‘extreme scheduling constraints’ and ‘were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning.'”
As has been suspected since the pair’s firing, Kennedy reportedly “made attempts first to support and eventually to supplant Lord and Miller to some degree, as happened with Gareth Edwards on the troubled ‘Rogue One.'” It is believed that Kasdan himself would have stepped in to assist on a more hands-on level, as Tony Gilroy did with “Rogue One.” Lord and Miller reportedly balked at the idea. Ultimately, Lord and Miller were fired and Ron Howard was brought in to finish the production. Production will now continue into September, and Howard is expected in London this week.
While Lucasfilm’s decision to hiring on younger directors for its films — from Edwards to Lord and Miller and even “Episode 8” filmmaker Rian Johnson — has belied a sense of the studio’s eagerness to expand out their brand and play up creative freedom, it’s hardly been an easy path, and the last two “Star Wars” features have been plagued by obvious disconnects between their directors and the Lucasfilm brass. What unfolded on Han Solo may be the most obvious and shocking, but it may also be indicative of a studio that needs to make the choice between what it says it values and what actually ends up on the big screen.
The report also unveils a number of other, mostly unreported incidents on the set over the past few months, including the firing of original editor Chris Dickens, who was then replaced by Pietro Scalia. There’s also mention of an acting coach being brought in to support star Alden Ehrenreich (as THR reminds: “Hiring a coach is not unusual; hiring one that late in production is.”)
You can read the entire piece over at The Hollywood Reporter.