As you’ve probably noticed due to all the coverage, it was Star Wars Celebration this weekend past. The 3-day event was a roaring success in London, with tonnes of events and activities for Star Wars to geek out on, including a series of panels featuring the cast, crew and the people behind the scenes who have made Star Wars possible for the last few decades. Each day boasted one massive highlight panel with huge reveals, with Friday being all about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Saturday being ruled by Star Wars Rebels season 3. And for Sunday, Lucasfilm saved the best for last… Well, not really, but still cool.
The big ticket item on the daily schedule was undoubtedly the Future Filmmakers panel which would feature Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-directors of the upcoming Han Solo standalone movie, as well as Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII. Unfortunately, due to the still very early stage of production on both movies, the filmmakers had very few revelations to share with the packed audience in attendance (I was hoping for at least a full title reveal for Episode VIII). But that doesn’t mean there was nothing of interest though.
For starters, it’s now official: Alden Ehrenreich is your new young Han Solo. Of course just about the entire world had already reported on the Hail, Caesar! actor landing the coveted gig a while back, but this was the very first time that Lucasfilm and Disney were actually announcing it in public in an official capacity. What’s more, Lord and Miller confirmed the early reports that they had indeed auditioned over 3,000 hopeful actors, including Miles Teller, Taron Egerton, Jack Reynor and more, and that they “turned over every rock to find someone who has the charisma and magic swagger.”. In a hilarious twist though, Lord and Miller revealed that out of those thousands of actors, Ehrenreich was actually the literal very first person they saw, before moving on to everybody else and then just coming right back to him. This prompted the duo to offer a glib apology to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy for wasting her time and money, with Kennedy quipping back that she would take it out of their salaries.
Ehrenreich revealed though that while he was the first one to take crack at it, landing the job was not easy as he had to do multiple auditions over the course of 6 months, including a session on board the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca. “I’ve never screen tested with a Wookie. It was amazing,” Ehrenreich told the audience.
“When it first came along, I knew everybody would be going out for it. I read the sides and loved them. I auditioned for six months … It was unbelievable. It was more exciting than nerve-wracking. I thought, ‘Who knows, but let me give it a shot.'”
Testing the chemistry between man and Wookie is obviously important seeing as this prequel will more then likely tackle how the two partners came to be such inseparable friends, as it tells the story of how Han Solo, played in iconic fashion by Harrison Ford, became the famous smuggler Luke Skywalker first met in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Miller and Lord also revealed that they had just recently moved to London to start pre-production on the still untitled Han Solo film, and that principal photography won’t begin until early 2017. It’s been speculated that the reason for this delay is so that Ehrenreich can film additional scenes for Rogue One, so that his younger character can be introduced in that film first in a cameo appearance.
As for Rian Johnson and Episode VIII even less was actually said about that production as it’s production is being kept as watertight as possible. Kennedy did reveal though that the choice of Johnson to helm Episode VIII was a relatively straightforward one as she has been “a big fan of Rian for a long time. He was way at the top of the list right away. Rian has those sensibilities that combine a dramatic sense of structure balanced with humor. I don’t say this about a lot of people, but he can move the camera as well as Steven Spielberg, so you’re in for a treat.”
Johnson also confirmed the reports from earlier in the year, that unlike all other Star Wars movies before, there won’t be a time jump between the ending of The Force Awakens – where [SPOILER ALERT] Rey finally tracks down Luke Skywalker on his island and presents him with his lightsaber – to the start of Episode VIII.
“For the first time, we’re breaking Star Wars tradition and starting our movie right where the last one left off. Skellig Michael is an incredibly mystical place. To be there and have that be the first thing we were shooting was an appropriately surreal way to start everything off.”
Later in the panel, the folks on stage were joined by surprise guests John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Carrie Fisher’s dogs – yes, you read that last part correctly – who just had a ball cracking jokes and having a fun time with the audience. You can check out some of the action in the gallery below.
Star Wars: Episode VIII is currently scheduled for release on December 15, 2017, while the Han Solo movie is out on May 25, 2018. You can check out a clip from the panel below (before Disney takes it down).
Last Updated: July 18, 2016