Ron Howard has been linked to Star Wars a lot over the years, including an offer from George Lucas to direct the prequel trilogy that dominated the box office at the turn of the century. Howard found the prospect of taking the reigns of one our most beloved franchises “too daunting” and passed.
Well, it looks like Howard just had a change of heart. The 63-year-old director has signed on to direct the untitled Han Solo origin story just two days after Phil Lord and Chris Miller left the project under acrimonious circumstances, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The news that Lord and Miller had been fired from the gig with just three-and-a-half more weeks of shooting sent shockwaves through Hollywood. According to both the directors and LucasFilm head Kathleen Kennedy, creative differences were the main reason for the split. When they signed on to direct in 2015, The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street directors promised to “take risks to give the audience a fresh experience.” That didn’t sit well with Kennedy who said that the “highest goal” of each Star Wars film is to “delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago.”
With Howard, she’s getting an old school Hollywood director who’s used to working within the confines of the studio system, and who has deep ties to Lucas himself.
On films like Apollo 13 and The Da Vinci Code, Howard has shown that he’s more than capable of handling the pressures that come with directing a major Hollywood blockbuster. But it’s still unclear how much of his own creative imprint Howard will be able to leave once filming resumes. Howard’s first order of business has been trying to a soothe a “rattled” cast that includes Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Thandie Newton, sources told THR.
He’ll also be given access to a rough edit of the film to fully determine exactly what needs fixing. Howard will have at least five weeks of reshoots, which were already built into the schedule before filming.
In Howard, LucasFilm and Disney get a one-size-fits-all director who can move from genre to genre with relative ease. He’s a director that focuses more on story than style, and whose traditional narrative approach is well-suited to the Star Wars universe. For a franchise allergic to any kind of real change or innovation as far as tone and storytelling are concerned, Howard just might be the perfect fit.