Forget the hype, forget the hoopla, for Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally here!
When Disney and Lucasfilm announced that they were to spin-off and explore three standalone pictures away from the main narrative of the ongoing central Star Wars saga, many had hoped that maybe everyone's favorite scruffy-looking nerf-herder would be up with a shout of having his backstory explored.
Following Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, it was revealed that Solo: A Star Wars Story would be up next, with this picture set to delve into the younger years of Han. Alden Ehrenreich eventually beat out several other big-name candidates to land the titular Solo gig, and before you could shout "Punch it!" we were up, up and away with production on the movie.
Sure, original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller would ultimately end up departing the production mid-way through filming, but Ron Howard was quickly brought in to drive the production forward in a way that was more in line with what the Disney bigwigs were hoping for.
And here we are, with Solo now in cinemas across the globe, winning plenty of early praise from many a fan, critic, and naysayer. What we've got here for you then, are 15 behind-the-scenes or backstage shots to give you an idea of what went on when the cameras weren't rolling on Solo.
15 A Long Time Ago...
One of the most instantly recognizable nuggets from the Star Wars series is the famed "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." line that opens up this entire other world of adventures. For Solo: A Star Wars Story, the above image itself seems to be from a long time ago, although not necessarily from a galaxy far, far away.
Solo has been plagued with numerous issues throughout its production; the biggest being the major creative differences between the powerhouses of Disney and Lucasfilm and the initial directing duo of Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Mid-way through shooting, the duo would be fired from the movie - but here we have a shot taken from calmer times, with Lord and Miller picture alongside some of Solo's key players.
14 The New Man in the Cockpit
After the very public firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the hunt was on for someone to step into the cockpit and fill Solo: A Star Wars Story's director's chair.
Following a brief search from Disney and Lucasfilm, the "house of mouse" decided that Ron Howard was the best person for the job.
With a directing resume that featured the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Splash, Cocoon, Willow, Backdraft, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, and Frost/Nixon, it was felt that two-time Oscar winner Howard was the perfect choice to balance the adventure, spectacle, drama, and humor of Solo.
13 Under the Learning Tree
It seems that the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon is quite the popular spot for behind-the-scenes photos, right? Following the previous two entries in this feature, here we have a third Falcon-set shot; this time with director Ron Howard dishing out some pointers to five of the movie's key players.
If the reports and rumors are to believed, Howard certainly steadied the ship after the problems seen under the stewardship of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and it could well be that Disney and Lucasfilm made their call at just the right time in order to save the picture from going down a far less fruitful path.
12 Captain Charisma
These days, Donald Glover is rightfully seen as one of the coolest cats in the acting world. And so, when looking for somebody to play a younger take on Lando Calrissian — arguably the coolest cat in the entire galaxy — it seemed a no-brainer for Glover to fill this most iconic of roles. He also had a realization about Chewbacca.
“In this film you really realize, ‘Oh Chewbacca does not need to hang out with Solo!’” said Glover. “Every day he chooses: ‘I’m going to outlive this kid. I’m stronger, I’m faster, I’m better. But I love this kid.’ That’s true love. He doesn’t have to. He just wants to.”
Here, we see Glover prepped and ready to cruise through the stars, all likely with poise, ease, and an overflowing amount of charisma. “I didn’t want to do an intimation [of him],” Glover said “I felt that would be really bad. People would be turned off.”
11 Early Ride
We all know that Han Solo is synonymous with piloting the legendary Millennium Falcon, and the scruffy-looking nerf herder has also regularly boasted about how he's the best pilot in the galaxy, period. Alden Ehrenreich studied Han, but he definitely made the character his own.
"I think the main thing was to watch all the originals kind of as early as possible so I could absorb the feeling for the character and I wouldn't want to list those mannerisms because then it's like you're watching, doing the thing, but there was definitely a little stuff, but the main thing was, I think, for it to feel like a person. Like a real person and to have enough of that kind of feel and touch that you believe that he could become that."
In this behind-the-scenes teaser shot, we can see the young Han behind the, err, "wheel" of what appears to not be the Falcon. Instead, it looks like some sort of smaller vehicle, quite possibly a Speeder. Which in turn takes us nicely on to our next image.
10 Cruise Control
The previously mentioned image was one of the first teaser shots to be leaked out online by those behind the Solo production, and that was eventually followed up with this image.
Here, we pretty much see a different angle of the previously-shown moment. And yes, it does indeed again seem as if the young Solo is piloting a Speeder of sorts. Only this time out, we can see Alden Ehrenreich getting some pointers from somebody out to the side of what's being filmed. Who that is, it's too blurry to tell — although Ehrenreich himself looks fully focused on the job at hand. “The main thing very early on was to try to absorb as much as I could from the original films," he said. However, he did manage to give it his own spin. “I don’t know if he feels exactly like Han Solo the whole time,”
9 The Mystery Man
Recently, Paul Bettany has been best known as playing Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — playing a prominent role in this year's Avengers: Infinity War — and here the English actor is shown on the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Where Bettany is concerned, his involvement in the film was largely kept a secret until just a few months before Solo's release date. It's believed that Bettany actually reached out to director Ron Howard to ask for a part in the picture, and that role is reportedly a crime boss called Dryden Vos.
I’m 46 years old, and I was at a very impressionable age [at the time]. My whole world changed when the movies came out. I wanted to be a part of that; whatever that was, I wanted in! It was wonderful to come in and do this," said Bettany.
Of course, given the nature of Han Solo, particularly in his younger days, being a crime boss doesn't exactly mean that Vos will be on the opposite side of the fence to young Han.
Of course, the most famous astromech droid in a galaxy far, far away is hands-down R2-D2 (sorry, BB-8 fans). That little R2 unit has seen more adventures than you've had hot dinners.
Here, though, we see director Ron Howard getting up close and personal with another astromech droid. Who that unit is remains to be seen, but the Star Wars franchise as a whole has consistently proved that fans love nothing more than a good droid — particularly if it's a cheeky little astromech rascal.
7 Keeping Warm
That poor, poor astromech droid. Just to give you a heads-up though, Corellian is actually the homeland of both Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon. So yes, it's kind of a big deal for director Ron Howard to share this on his social media — and it's something that only served to further whet the appetite on many a longtime, savvy Star Wars fan.
When Howard took over the project, he didn't only have to worry about the actual movie, like filming scenes, he also had to worry keeping everyone's spirits up and believing in the project. "They recognized I didn’t need to do this but they could see my enthusiasm for the project and my belief in them. I also didn’t change anybody. I kept the entire crew. I just tried to present a belief and optimism for what the film could be.”
6 Cooler Than the Other Side of the Pillow
We mean, do we really have to say anything? We guess we should, because, you know, word count, but really, this is an image that completely and utterly speaks for itself. While some of the backstage shots and behind-the-scenes pictures featured elsewhere in this piece are fun little looks at what goes on when the cameras not on, people simply having fun, or chuckle-inducing shots that will get a laugh out of long time Star Wars fans, this shot of Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian in one of the Millennium Falcon's corridors is just mind-blowing. Bravo! When Glover met with Billy Dee Williams, he said he had a lot of questions for him and just really wanted to understand what it was like to play Lando. "Back with the original Star Wars movies came out. I just wanted to know, Star Wars was such a big deal and then they make the second one and you’re kind of the first and the almost only Black guy in the universe at that point.
I was like, 'How did you go into that? What were your thoughts?' It’s always a big thing when you break a mold.
What was the thought process of that? He gave some good advice about this, about being yourself as much as possible, making the character a real person, rather than the whole identity for a whole group of people."
5 Warwick and Chewie
If you polled Star Wars fans on their favorite character from the entire franchise and property, there's a good chance that a huge, huge chunk of those people would list walking carpet Chewbacca as their top pick. As such, many are hugely excited to see the Wookiee returning to action in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Here, we don't just see Chewie though, for he's actually joined by Warwick Davis. Davis has previously appeared in Return of the Jedi, The Phantom Menace, The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi, and he's again back for some "galaxy far, far away" action in Solo. Just what his character is up to in this film is currently unknown, but at least we now know that he'll be sharing some screen time with the ever-popular Chewbacca.
4 That's a Wrap!
In this image — again taken from Ron Howard's expansive Twitter output — the director is shown saying his official goodbyes to one of the star's of the movie, Donald Glover. Glover took this role seriously and really took the time to get to know the character he was playing.
"He likes to know his way in and out of any situation that he’s in. Lando likes rules because he’s somebody who is in a position to benefit from rules."
"Wildly impressive" is a huge understatement where Glover's previous work is concerned, with him being one of the most engaging, entertaining presences in the game today. How his Solo: A Star Wars performance turns out remains to be seen, but we can guarantee that his Lando Calrissian will undoubtedly stand out from the pack, and it would be no surprise whatsoever to see Glover completely steal the picture out from under Ehrenreich's headlining act.
3 Hard at Work
It seems that barely a photo of Ron Howard — whether a behind-the-scenes shot or a staged official picture — goes by without the former Happy Days star rocking some sort of baseball cap. And this pic is no different. Here, we can see Howard hard at work, eyes on the prize, overseeing what's playing out before him on the set of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Many wondered why Howard took on this incredible and giant project.
“When I learned that this change was happening, it just came in a moment where I was working on lots of new projects for Imagine, and I had not planned to direct anything last year,” he said.
Throughout his impressive directing career, Howard has been on some pretty huge sets and involved in some pretty big-time movies, but there's a good argument to be made that none were bigger in scale, scope and name value than Solo.
2 All Together Now
Not so much a backstage, behind-the-scenes photo, per se, but what we have here is, we guess, kind of backstage. Yeah, kind of. We're sticking with that logic. This is from a photo shoot that the core cast took part in over in London, England. Assembled are stars Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, and Woody Harrelson. Oh, and Chewbacca. Whether Joonas Suotamo is the man in the Chewbacca suit is unclear. And then, of course, in the dark cap to the left of the photo is director Ron Howard. Given the troubled early production on the movie, it's just great to see what appears to be a bunch of extremely happy, smiling faces.
1 The Big One
While the previous image showcased some of Solo's biggest names during a London-based photoshoot, here we have a shot of the big one: the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Said premiere actually took place at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and rather than the casual get-ups worn by certain names in the London shoot, here we see Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Woody Harrelson, Ron Howard, Emilia Clarke, Alden Ehrenreich, and Donald Glover all dressed to impress. Hell, you know it's must be a major event when it's one of those rare times that director Howard hasn't got one of his trademark baseball caps on his head. And yes, we know, Donald Glover does indeed look all kinds of badass here.