By Gill Pringle

Ron, you have made some huge films, some of the greatest movies of all time. What was like making a Star Wars movie, though?

Ron Howard: Well, it’s its own… It’s the galaxy far, far away. The level of anticipation is really unlike anything I’ve ever done, even some pretty big titles with a lot of fan interest. And you know, you fall into it and it’s amazing. It was a little bit… I began to recognise it as something similar to the Beatles documentary that I took on [The Beatles: Eight Days a Week]. I’m at a point in my life where I like experimenting. I like to take some chances. I’m not too worried about the outcome. I want to just have the creative experience. And I sort of felt that way about jumping into a Star Wars movie. But I also felt that way in the Beatles Documentary in that I could tell from the moment it was announced… ‘Ron don’t fuck this up.’

Star Wars movies are known for incredible practical stunts and visual effects. How did you feel about combining the two? Did you want to lean more toward one?

RH: In-camera is always what you want to go for first. With the Millennium Falcon and with the great sets and so forth, the approach here always was try to get as much in-camera as you could and then build from that. And that’s what’s so magical and amazing about ILM and what they can do to make the experience as powerful and immersive as it can possibly be. It’s a blast. The people around a movie like Solo are so dedicated to not just what’s existed before, but what else they can do within that framework, within that universe, that galaxy. And creatively, it’s just unbelievably stimulating for a filmmaker.

Joonas, this is your third outing as Chewbacca, taking over the role originated by Peter Mayhew. how do you feel about that?

Joonas Suotamo: When I got to know that I was going to be playing this character, I really couldn’t sleep at night. I was so excited because this was a life changer for me. I mean I was borderline jobless when I got this role. And my now fiancé, my then girlfriend has seen me going from living with my mum to become Chewbacca. That’s the span of our relationship. She says I’ve been like this the whole time. It’s just now that this behavior suits me. It’s funny because this character is so loved. And Peter [Mayhew] who created this character along with George Lucas has been so instrumental and helped, giving me his blessing. And giving me some tips in our week long session together, how to be this character…

You went to a Chewie boot camp?

JS: Exactly. And the tickets were all sold out! It was fun because he… I never could have understood what went on underneath the mask. And now that I got to know that, it was so easy going into shooting this film, which is so much about Han and Chewie and everyone, that it was so important to get it right for this film.

It’s more of a Chewie movie than any Star Wars movie before…

JS: [makes Chewie growls]

Phoebe, your character, L3-37, is unlike any droid we have ever seen in Star Wars. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes her an individual and what you tried to get across about L3?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge: She’s a self-made droid. So, she created herself out of other droids. Which sounds kind of frightening if you put it like that (laughs). She turns herself into a unique creature that’s stronger, more independent than she originally was. She’s got a great attitude. And she’s very upbeat. And she’s very funny. And she’s a revolutionary. She has an agenda which is bigger than the sum of her parts, which is something that’s really extraordinary for a character. And it’s great to play that. Great to play a droid who has a message.

Ron, you came to this movie late, how hard was it to find the perfect role for your brother Clint?

RH: Well, it was pretty damn easy. I did come into it late. And there was a lot of work that Phil [Lord] and Chris [Miller] had done. And unfortunately, there were creative differences. They were not going to carry on. And within that, there were a lot of things that were really strong and really worked, and that you knew you wanted to keep. And then other things that hadn’t been done yet. And other scenes I was given the opportunity to sort of experiment with and explore. I sat down with Larry and Jon [screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan], and started talking about this that and the other. And there was this great scene with L3 and it just came up in conversation. You know, that L3 needs somebody to be pissed off at. And I said, ‘My brother!’ He’s kind of someone you get pissed off at. And he’s kind of funny when he’s doing it.

It is always fun to watch and be like, ‘okay, okay, where’s Clint? Where’s Clint? There he is!’ The fact is that I love working with him. He’s a great character actor. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s a great team player. And he’s not in all my movies because if there’s not something really juicy for him to do, then of course I don’t cast him. But in this case, I knew it would be fun. And he had a blast on it.

PWB: Yeah, he was great. He was just like, “Beat me harder!”

Alden, did you study some of Harrison Ford’s movements from previous films, or did you try to avoid that just to make it your own?

Alden Ehrenreich: The way I went about it was to watch the original movies very early on. And absorb as much as I could. Mainly the character; how the character is operating in the world. And Harrison, and the whole Star Wars universe, which is so rich and there’s so much to it. And so I tried to take in as much of that as I could, very early. Because I had the role for quite a long time before we actually shot… And then move into working on the part. And put all that aside and forget about it and play this guy where he is now in his life. Because it’s the most important thing that it feels like a real person. And so, then I moved into working on this story, this moment in time.  

Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas from May 24, 2018. Read our review here.


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