Kathleen Kennedy Says ‘Solo’ Bomb Was a Learning Lesson: We Can’t Recast ‘Star Wars’ Fan Favorites

"Solo" was largely a box office bomb and derided by fans for its lead Alden Ehrenreich's take on the beloved Han Solo.
Solo: Star Wars Characters Shouldn't Be Recast, Says Lucasfilm
"Solo: A Star Wars Story"

Sometimes it just takes a “Solo” mistake to learn a franchise-long lesson.

Star Wars” producer Kathleen Kennedy reflected on 2018’s prequel film “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which dove into the origin story for Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich as a precursor to Harrison Ford’s iconic iteration of the character. The film was plagued with reshoots after co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller unexpectedly left the film due to creative differences. Lead star Ehrenreich reportedly also was highly encouraged to work with an acting coach on set.

Ron Howard replaced the duo after an “excruciating” production process, according to screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan. Original directors Lord and Miller allegedly tried to lead with improvisation and more experimental filmmaking techniques to honor Han Solo’s “maverick” persona. Ultimately, “Solo” made less than any other live-action “Star Wars” movie at the box office upon release.

“There should be moments along the way when you learn things,” producer Kennedy recently told Vanity Fair. “Now it does seem so abundantly clear that we can’t do that.”

For Disney+ series “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” Mark Hamill continued to play a decades-younger Luke Skywalker thanks to deepfake technology with younger actors playing Luke’s body with Hamill’s face superimposed.

It seems the only iconic “Star Wars” staple character that could successfully be recast is Baby Yoda, who rose to viral fame after appearing in the prequel series “The Mandalorian.” Looking ahead, though, Kennedy sees the potential in pivoting to other yet-untold stories within the “Star Wars” universe.

Upcoming series “The Acolyte,” which reportedly stars “Bodies Bodies Bodies” breakout Amandla Stenberg, is the next project from “Russian Doll” co-creator Leslye Headland. The series is set to take place approximately 100 years before “The Phantom Menace,” with Headland telling Vanity Fair that a lot of the classic “Star Wars” heroes “haven’t even been born yet” in the series.

“We’re taking a look at the political and personal and spiritual things that came up in a time period that we don’t know much about,” Headland said. “My question when watching ‘The Phantom Menace’ was always like, ‘Well, how did things get to this point?’ How did we get to a point where a Sith lord can infiltrate the Senate and none of the Jedi pick up on it? Like, what went wrong? What are the scenarios that led us to this moment?”

The mystery-thriller series also will re-examine the Jedi legacy ahead of the film trilogy sets. And perhaps Disney+ series will honor the original backbone of George Lucas’ “Star Wars” empire.

“What’s unique about ‘Star Wars’ is that we’re one story, basically,” Lucasfilm president Kennedy explained. “George was always dealing with episodes. Ironically, he was serializing his storytelling. He was influenced by ‘Flash Gordon’ and cliff-hangers on Saturdays at movie theaters. All of that informed what the DNA of ‘Star Wars’ is, which is why I think it’s just organic that we made the transition into television.”

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