Looks like I need to learn how to spell “Ehrenreich” without looking.

One of the highlights of Hail, Caesar! this spring was the performance of Alden Ehrenreich. When I spoke to the Coen Brothers about the film, they could not say enough good things about the actor, and whether he’s starring in the movie-within-the-movie about a singing cowboy or he’s struggling with the basics of speaking English opposite the great Ralph Fiennes, he’s constantly game for whatever weirdness is currently unfolding.

Now the actor has won the most high-profile role being cast this year, and I wish him well with it. Whatever the title to the film ends up being, the Miller/Lord Han Solo: A Star Wars Story is going to be one of the most scrutinized films of the year when it is released on May 25, 2018. How could it not be? After all, Han Solo is one of the most beloved and best known characters in all of pop culture, and Harrison Ford’s portrayal of him is as iconic as movie performances get.

The thing is, any role should be up for different interpretations. Yes, Harrison Ford was the exact right guy to play the part in 1977, and his charisma is one of the reasons Empire Strikes Back is the towering accomplishment of the entire series so far. Watching him in The Force Awakens, I thought it was amazing to see Ford slip back into the character, once again finding the thing that made Solo so instantly memorable, and his age gave the character a weight he’s never had before. There was a beautiful undercurrent of parental regret that made Solo feel vulnerable, and I love the way he seems delighted by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega as Rey and Finn. There’s no denying the total ownership of the role that Ford has had so far, but if Chris Miller and Phil Lord are going to go back and introduce us to a young Han Solo, then they need to be able to make the character their own.

There were many names attached to the role during this process, but it feels like Ehrenreich is the right call. He’s talented, but he’s not so well known already that he’s bringing any baggage to the part. As important as his casting is, I still think it’s the talent behind the camera that has me ready to give this one a chance. Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan co-wrote the script, which is very cool just in terms of how it ties this film to Star Wars history, and Miller and Lord have already proven that they somehow make even the worst ideas work, and I’m curious to see how they make this stand apart from what we typically think of as Star Wars movies.

All I know for sure at this point is that I’m glad the search is over, since I couldn’t take another story about a short list that seemed to change every single time. Welcome, Alden Ehrenreich. Now, has anyone warned you about fandom?

Han Solo: A Star Wars Story will be in theaters May 25, 2018.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.