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Star Wars stars Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, Ewan McGregor and more gathered to see the Millennium Falcon blast off Thursday. But there was one notable absence from the Hollywood premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story: Harrison Ford.
And that is a good thing.
Ford was first in bringing the beloved Han Solo to life in the original Star Wars trilogy, and that is a tough act to follow for Alden Ehrenreich. In previous interviews, Ehrenreich said he met with Ford for lunch after being cast as a younger version of the cocky, charming space smuggler and that he took all the advice that was offered to him.
For Ehrenreich, it was a tough road in the beginning, as some fans were not thrilled with the casting choice nor the idea for the film in general. How could anyone possibly follow Ford, who delivered one of the most iconic performances in sci-fi film history? In Solo, Ehrenreich had to make the character his own, but still have that connective tissue established by Ford’s performance.
Though reviews have not yet come out for Solo, the early buzz suggests Ehrenreich was successful. Those in attendance at the premiere have shared positive reactions for Ehrenreich’s performance and for the film in general. (Though it’s worth noting that people’s responses from premieres generally skew positive, thanks to the glitz of watching a movie with the stars after a lavish red carpet.)
Ford being at the premiere would have put Ehrenreich in an awkward position. The younger actor needed for Han Solo to be his own, and it would have been just that much harder for the audience to give him a fair shot if Ford had been in the theater. Think about it: If you went to see Solo and Ford was in the audience, would you be more or less critical of Ehrenreich’s take? Would you be more or less likely to accept a different Han? Perhaps Ford knew that his presence would have put the younger actor in a tough spot.
Yes, original Lando Calrissian actor Billy Dee Williams was at the premiere, but that was a different situation. Fans were quick to welcome Donald Glover as the younger version of Lando, and people on social media already have been calling for him to star in his own Lando movie.
Glover said in a previous interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he too met with his character’s shared actor for lunch. Williams’ advice to him: “Just be charming.”
Glover was never under a microscope by fans, so Williams being at the premiere was more of a passing of the torch moment than a, “Well, let’s see what you’ve got” moment.
Disney and Lucasfilm open Solo: A Star Wars Story opens May 25.
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