It’s Official! Ron Howard Takes Over as Han Solo Director

In the wake of the departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the upcoming Han Solo Star Wars movie, Lucasfilm has officially announced that Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard (A Beautiful MindThe Da Vinci Code) will take over the troubled project. He was on a very short list of filmmakers that also included the film’s screenwriter and Star Wars vet Lawrence Kasdan (Silverado, Dreamcatcher) — who may have been denied the job due to DGA regulations — and original Star Wars trilogy designer Joe Johnston (The Rocketeer, Captain America: The First Avenger).

“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”

With the unprecedented situation of taking over a film three-quarters through shooting, Howard will be placed in the delicate situation of inheriting a cast and crew still rattled by the abrupt firing of Lord and Miller, whose directing style and tonal ideas earned the ire of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. Howard will work with Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan to figure out what needs fixing, and will look over a rough cut of the film and meet with the cast this week. Just three weeks were left of the film’s principal photography, with five weeks of reshoots already built into the schedule for later this year.

It remains to be seen how the situation will evolve, and whether Han Solo can keep its previously-announced May 25, 2018 release date. A lot will depend on whether Howard decides to scrap most or all of what’s been shot, or simply reshoot certain sections. There’s also the question of Director’s Guild credit, should a good deal of Lord and Miller’s footage survive. On one hand you have a Superman II scenario, where Richard Lester took over and only a small percentage of the uncredited Richard Donner’s footage survived, while on the other hand you have a situation like 2002’s The Time Machine, where Gore Verbinski completed the last 18 days of shooting and didn’t take credit. Even on last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the film’s extensive reshoots were overseen by an uncredited Tony Gilroy, although director Gareth Edwards remained involved. It seems unlikely that Lord and Miller will remain credited on the film given the public nature of their removal.

Howard himself has a long history with Lucasfilm, having starred in George Lucas’s 1973 smash American Graffiti, and he directed the Lucas-penned 1988 fantasy Willow. Howard was also reportedly asked at one point by Lucas to direct 1999’s The Phantom Menace, but declined. Although Howard has had a remarkable four-decade career as a director, he is coming off a string of flops (In the Heart of the Sea, The Dilemma) and underperformers (Rush, Inferno).

The untitled Han Solo film is set to feature Hail, Caesar‘s Alden Ehrenreich as Han, with Atlanta‘s Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and The Force Awakens‘ Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. Woody Harrelson is attached to play Han’s mentor, a man by the name of Beckett, while Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke, Westworld‘s Thandie Newton, The Wire‘s Michael K. Williams and Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge are set for undisclosed roles.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)