November 09, 2012 7:00am PT by Marc Bernardin
Does Anybody Really Want an Old Han Solo? (Opinion)
Harrison Ford is, apparently, willing to consider strapping his blaster back on for Star Wars: Episode VII. Many are greeting that as good news, a sign that all will be right with the first post-Disney-purchase Star Wars movie. And I get it -- you’ve had enough of Star Wars without the characters you love in it, and you want the warm embrace of Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (and Billy Dee Williams, never forget Billy Dee!) returned to a galaxy far, far away.
But I’ve gotta wonder: Is it Harrison Ford you want or is it Han Solo? I know it’s painful, but try and remember back to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yes, the movie was bad, for any number of reasons (at the top of my list: aliens, right above Shia LaBeouf), but for me, a 65-year-old Indiana Jones simply wasn’t the one I wanted. I wanted the one who told Marion Ravenwood, “It’s not the years, honey; it’s the mileage,” not the one who so obviously looked like it was, actually, the years.
Pop culture’s great characters achieve immortality through reinterpretation. The ones who last, truly last, are the ones that have been processed and refashioned for each generation that encounters them. Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, James Bond, James Kirk -- they will outlive us all because they are bigger than any one actor. I want the same thing for the Star Wars characters. I want immortality for them. So I want Disney and whichever director gets the gig (fingers crossed for Brad Bird!) to recast them.
Listen, do I think there’s a good story to be told with Han and Leia’s children, rich with the Force, turning to old Uncle Luke for training and guidance as they deal with some new iteration of the Sith? Sure. But I also think there are scores of stories to tell about those three characters just after Return of the Jedi, when they’re still young and vital and ready to put the galaxy back in order -- not old and crotchety and shining up their teeth for One Last Mission.
Now, if I'm recasting Star Wars, here's who I'd choose:
You want someone who looks like they've been through it, who convey the haunted quality of a man who's been mutilated by his own father but still retains the glimmer of farmboy. Ryan Gosling can get there, for sure, as can Ben Foster. They've both been tested by both indie fare and studio movies and can light it up either way. Chris Evans, too, would be a good fit, though I'm not sure Disney and Marvel would want to get their Captain America chocolate in their Star Wars peanut butter.
He's gotta register as a man onscreen. Solid, thick, roguish -- even if he's a reformed rogue. And there has to be a sense of humor, otherwise Han Solo's just an empty shirt (see: Return of the Jedi). Nathan Fillion's built a career playing that guy, capable of doing the action, selling the romance, getting the laughs. (Also, he's played a smuggler on a spaceship before. Just sayin'.) Josh Brolin looks like he climbed out of a Western and, in Men in Black III, showed he has a knack for comedy. Zachary Levi basically played this role already, albeit in animated form, in Disney's Tangled. But Chuck gave him lots of opportunities to show how many things he could do -- if you add a layer of swagger, he could be the guy.
It's not enough for her to be beautiful: Whoever plays the senator-princess needs to be, basically, a screwball comedienne. Fiery, is what we're looking for. Mila Kunis might be a touch young, but by the time Episode VII gets going, she'll have a bit more salt on her. She's a gifted comic and showed real depth in Black Swan. Jennifer Connelly's got an Academy Award on the shelf, so she can more than hold her own. And Rachel Weisz is funnier than people give her credit for -- as anyone who saw The Brothers Bloom can attest -- and also has some Oscar gold to flaunt.
Who’s on your list?