UPDATE: Ron Howard Discusses Han Solo Flick

Kim Taylor-Foster
Movies Star Wars
Movies Star Wars

UPDATE: Ron Howard has been speaking out about his appointment as the new director taking over from Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off film. On stage at Cannes Lion, the seasoned director referred to the chance to direct the film ” a little opportunity that came my way.”

He added, “I’ve been a fan forever. It’s gratifying to lend my voice to the Star Wars universe now.”

The director also said, “I’ve been around the Star Wars universe from the beginning”. George Lucas was developing the story when they worked together on American Graffiti.

Howard has also been tweeting about his new job enthusiastically:

UPDATE: Lucasfilm has officially announced Ron Howard as the director with the chops to take over from the departing duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller. In a statement, Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy said:

“At Lucasfilm, we believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began forty years ago. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to announce that Ron Howard will step in to direct the untitled Han Solo film. We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie. Filming will resume the 10th of July.”

Our original article speculating on who might take over follows below.

In case you didn’t hear, the Han Solo spin-off movie has lost its directors. Phil Lord and Chris Miller who previously wrote and directed The Lego Movie, have left the project, with all parties citing “creative differences”. That old chestnut.

Frontrunners to replace them have already emerged but ahead of the official announcement, we take a look at the main contenders – and throw in some alternative possibilities.

Joe Johnston

Joe Johnston
Joe Johnston on the set of another of his films, Jurassic Park III

Director of Jumanji and The Rocketeer, Joe Johnston knows how to make a family blockbuster. A big Hollywood player, Lucasfilm would no doubt feel the project would be in safe hands under his control. He also made a success of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Johnston also worked at Lucasfilm earlier in his career. Starting out in the business, he took a job as a storyboard artist and worked his way up to the point where he was alongside George Lucas in the editing room. He worked on all three films of the original trilogy. He is also responsible for designing Boba Fett and has been campaigning for a Boba Fett spin-off movie.

Currently attached to direct The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, Johnston probably has the time available to step in and bring his experience, knowledge and dependability to the Han Solo movie.

Ron Howard

Ron Howard in serious mode, probably thinking about how he's going to fit everything in

Howard is one of the biggest directors working in Hollywood today, responsible for hits including The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13 and Rush.

Like Johnston, he’s got the experience to step in and pick up where Lord and Miller left off – and would have the respect of the entire cast and crew. He’d also most likely to be able to keep the whole production on track for its scheduled May 2018 release.

The only problem is that Howard is currently extremely busy working on a Luciano Pavarotti documentary, as well as developing features including a screen adaptation of J.D. Vance memoir Hillbilly Elegy.

Lawrence Kasdan

Lawrence Kasdan
Lawrence Kasdan (right) with George Lucas back in the day

If reports are to be believed, it’s Lawrence Kasdan who raised doubts about Lord and Miller. According to The Hollywood Reporter, their “style and vision” clashed with the veteran screenwriter’s. Kasdan is responsible for the Empire Strikes Back screenplay, considered by many to be the best film in the entire saga. He also wrote Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Essentially, Kasdan is king.

As writer on the Han Solo film locking horns with two directors keen on improvising and not sticking to the script, it would make sense that this writer-director step in to take on the responsibility of bringing this to the screen on time. And let’s be practical about this – he wouldn’t have the catching up to do of others.

J.J. Abrams

JJ Abrams The Force Awakens
J.J. Abrams with R2-D2 on the set of The Force Awakens

Director on the first in the new trilogy of Star Wars films, Episode VII – The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams made a successful film that was well-received by fans and critics and has already cemented itself as a firm favourite in the saga.

Abrams has previously spoken about his regret that he’s not directing Episode VIII, which is in the hands of Rian Johnson, so he could now potentially get back in the chair for the Han Solo spin-off. He’s no stranger to success as both a director and producer with TV series Lost to his name as well as the rebooted Star Trek franchise.

Patty Jenkins

Wonder Woman
Patty Jenkins directs Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman – imagine what she could do with the Han Solo movie

Patty Jenkins is currently riding on the crest of a wave. Wonder Woman is raking in a fortune at the box office, and critics love what the assured director has done with the property. Not only is she the woman behind making a success of Wonder Woman’s first ever solo outing on the big screen, but she’s also credited by many for reinvigorating the DC Extended Universe.

Could it be time to give her the chance to work her magic with a Star Wars property? The tone she’s brought to Wonder Woman is very much in line with that of Star Wars and fans would love to see what the woman who steered Charlize Theron to an Oscar in Monster could bring to the franchise.

However, timing could be a major factor here, since it’s been announced that she’s just begun work on the script for Wonder Woman 2.

Tony Gilroy

Tony Gilroy Michael Clayton
Rogue One 'saviour' Tony Gilroy (centre) on the set of Michael Clayton

Tony Gilroy is the magician who was brought in to “save” Rogue One when Lucasfilm chiefs felt Gareth Edwards’ version needed another look. He worked on re-writes and re-shoots, which included whipping the ending into shape, to present a final cut of a film that was pretty universally well received.

Having written the Bourne movies and with an Oscar-nominated film under his belt – he directed Michael Clayton – Lucasfilm could do a lot worse than hand directing duties over to Gilroy. Fans would be reassured they’ll get a film they love, while Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy et al could relax knowing they’ve got someone on board they can totally rely on.

Kim Taylor-Foster
Kim Taylor-Foster is Entertainment Editor for Fandom in the UK. She was raised on an unsteady diet of video nasties and violent action flicks.