Lucasfilm Hired Acting Coach for Han Solo Star, Fired Editor
A lot has been happening around the untitled Han Solo film and, with the exception of Ron Howard picking up where Phil Lord and Chris Miller left off, hardly any of it has been good. New details have been emerging since Lord and Miller’s departure, but today’s reports from The Hollywood Reporter takes the cake (so far). One such detail includes Lucasfilm hiring an acting coach for Han Solo himself, Alden Ehrenreich. Mondays, am I right?
According to THR’s sources, Lord and Miller used only three different camera setups as opposed to the usual 12 or 15 Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy had expected. Not only was production going slower than some had liked, but the so few angles did not exactly provide a wealth of options for when it comes time to edit the film.
Meanwhile, a source close to Lord and Miller said that the directors were given “zero creative freedom.” The two felt they were being asked to operate under “extreme scheduling constraints” and “were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning.”
The crux of the problem seemed to have stemmed with the directors’ improvisational approach. It served them well on 21 Jump Street and The LEGO Movie, which are comedies, but apparently it may not have been working so well on a set as large as a Star Wars movie.
“You have to make decisions much earlier than what they’re used to,” one of these sources say. “I don’t know if it’s because there were two of them but they were not decisive.” Production department heads began to complain.
On the other hand, a source close to Lord and Miller acknowledged they’re looser direction style saying that it wasn’t just to add comedic elements. “They collaborate closely with their actors and give them creative freedom that, in their experience, brings out the actors’ best performances,” this person said. “Lawrence Kasdan would not allow this and demanded that every line was said word for word. To appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes.”
When the production moved from London to the Canary Islands, Lucasfilm not only replaced editor Chris Dickens (Macbeth) with Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia (Alien: Covenant and The Martian), but they also hired an acting coach for the lead actor. Now, hiring an acting coach isn’t unusual; hiring one so late in production is.
Screenwriter and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan seemed to be displeased with how things were progressing as well. The directors were reportedly telling actors to try lines different from what was on the script, which were written by Kasdan and his son. It got to the point where Kasdan came on as a sort of “shadow director.” Then Kennedy pulled the trigger, Lord and Miller were fired, and Ron Howard was announced the next day.
Sources say that the crew broke into an applause when they were told that Howard would take over as director. Ron Howard, who is scheduled to resume filming today, knew he was caught in a pretty sticky situation and took it upon himself to correspond with ousted directors. One insider said that much of what Lord and Miller have already shot are “very usable.”
Production for the Han Solo film began in February and was supposed to finish up in July. Yes, that’s how far into the production we are in currently. How much of Lord and Miller’s original shots will make it into the final product after Ron Howard’s done with it? More importantly, will Lord and Miller be credited? That question is up to the Director’s Guild….
The debate we find ourselves in right now is this: Are Disney and Lucasfilm truly willing to take risks? A year ago, Kathleen Kennedy told THR that for major franchises, it is possible to “take artistic license and creative risks.”
If all you’re doing is playing it safe — trying to make the same movie over and over again — that’s when the audiences say, ‘Oh, this is just a moneymaking machine.’ But if it’s genuinely in service to the art form, then the franchise concept is being used in a way that’s exciting.
But at the same time, she seems to be going against the her previously stated desire to hire young, untested directors (such as Lord and Miller). But can one really truly put her at fault? She said in a statement:
One of the things I’ve come to realize since I’ve been in this position of keeping Star Wars going is that in addition to looking for somebody who can creatively have an impact, you’re really looking for leadership skills. No one steps into these big movies without being able to genuinely lead the charge with hundreds of people and [handle] the relationship with the studio. That’s a very difficult thing to do, and you don’t know [a person can do] that until you get to spend time and watch somebody operate.
Depending on your point of view, Kennedy may seem to have a strangle hold on how the Star Wars movies should be handled. Then again, if you’re going to take calculated risks on “young, untested directors” shouldn’t one have already known the specific brand that made the directors famous in the first place?