Han Solo Directors Talk Grueling Casting Process and Reveal Filming Plans

Power 100:  Christopher Miller and Phil Lord-Getty-H 2016
Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Broad Green Pictures
Secrets from the project were revealed Sunday at 'Star Wars Celebration Europe.'

Han Solo is getting back in action — and directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller say that despite a grueling casting process, their ultimate choice was the first person they saw. 

"We turned over every rock to find someone who has the charisma and magic swagger," Lord said at Star Wars Celebration Europe Sunday. Added Miller, onstage: "But it was a waste of money because the person to get the part was literally the first person to walk through the door."

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy joked she'd take the cost of the auditions from their pay.

The duo then introduced star Alden Ehrenreich, who is playing the iconic captain of the Millennium Falcon. The young actor was cast after an extensive search, which saw 2,500 young men vie to fill the role first played by Harrison Ford in 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. Though news of his casting broke in May, this was the first time Lucasfilm officially confirmed the news. 

"I auditioned for about six months. The coolest part of that audition process was I went on the Falcon," Ehrenreich said. "It’s pretty unbelievable."

He screen-tested with Chewbacca and the Falcon, which proved to be a unique experience.

"I've never screen-tested with a Wookie. It was amazing," said Ehrenreich.

Directors Lord and Miller moved to London two days ago to begin work on the project, and they are still writing the script with Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon. They expect to begin filming in late January or early February 2017 — and say there will be plenty of droids on the set.

"It's a dream come true," Miller told the crowd.

Speaking of the lead character, Lord said that Solo was a "maverick, a scoundrel … clever but not smart."

"He doesn't want to do anything that he's told, and if he's told not to do something, he only wants to do it more," he added. "He's very sarcastic and yet unreasonably optimistic. He's basically a cynical guy with the biggest heart in the galaxy and one of the most iconic characters of all time."

The Han Solo team appeared onstage with Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson, along with Lucasfilm president Kennedy, senior vp development Kiri Hart and Star Wars Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo for Sunday's "Future Filmmakers Panel." The panel was the culmination of the three-day event, and despite the heavy hitters onstage, no big news was announced, leaving some fans disappointed there was no reveal of a title for Episode VIII or word of another stand-alone film.

The Han Solo film is expected to be released in 2018.