With all the behind the scenes turmoil that occurred on the set of Solo - which ended with Ron Howard (Apollo 13) stepping in to replace a departed Lord & Miller (The LEGO Movie) - it's easy to understand why fans are going to be cautious when they enter theaters this Memorial Day Weekend. Early reports indicated that Howard reshot up to 75% of Solo, even going as far as to replace Michael K. Williams with Paul Bettany after he took over the production.
However, Howard doesn't really want to talk about who filmed what and whose work remains in the final cut. Speaking with EW for their exclusive BTS look at the picture, he states:
“As Han says, ‘Don’t tell me the percentages.’ Never tell me the percentages.' I don’t really want to explain it. I don’t really want to be specific about that because, again, I don’t even want that to matter to fans. I could understand why you’d ask, and some might even be curious, but look, everybody who has been involved in this has done nothing but love what this movie could be, and that’s been the vibe around it. I think audiences are gonna feel that love and excitement.”
Cute butchering of the original Han Solo quote aside, Howard's got a point regarding the movie's construction. Now matter who signed on and helmed what, all parties are obviously there to deliver the highest quality product possible for Star Wars fans, and the old school director is nothing if not a consummate professional, admitting:
“It’s disappointing that any company ever feels like they have to make a change like that. It’s rough on everybody and disappointing for everybody, and I’ve just tried to come in and — of course, Phil and Chris’s fingerprints are all over the movie, given how much they put into it and the time they put into it. I hope fans won’t even think about how the movie was made. They should just lose themselves in it.”
It's interesting that he'd even admit that Phil Lord & Chris Miller's footage still remains, as a complete overhaul had been hinted at up until this point. One wonders if Howard merely means that the actors' character prep with the 22 Jump Street directors is present, as there was certainly not enough time for the new boss - who entered the picture just before Lord & Miller were set to wrap principal photography - to remold each performance as he saw fit. Howard presumably had to roll with the roles intact, acting as a true workman.
However, Kathleen Kennedy isn't as forgiving when talking about the departed directing duo, stating that it "just wasn't working out" when describing their exit:
“I think these guys are hilarious, but they come from a background of animation and sketch comedy and when you are making these movies you can do that and there’s plenty of room for improvisation, we do that all the time, but it has to be inside of a highly structured process or you can’t get the work done and you can’t move the armies of people to anticipate and have things ready. So, it literally came down to process. Just getting it done, There comes a point where there’s only so much you can do and then you have to take a different course and that’s where we ended up.”
Funnily enough, Howard reveals he wasn't the only familiar face on the Solo set while the Star Wars stand-alone was going through its most tumultuous period. George Lucas - the original architect of a galaxy far, far away - visited to lend some support to his friend, as Howard had directed Willow in 1988 for Lucasfilm. Of course, Lucas wasn't able to resist tossing out an idea or three while there, as Kennedy says:
“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. 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.”
Though there's obviously a cynicism that can often creep in when observing these producer-driven blockbusters from afar, it's still pretty heartwarming to hear that the series' godfather was there, hoping he could make the character he originally helped invent just a little more authentic to the way he recalled Han Solo.
Solo hits theaters May 25th.