tiistai 27. kesäkuuta 2017

The ”Scandalous” Han Solo Movie - Would That It Were So Simple

After Ron Howard was announced to be the new director of the Han Solo movie – because Chris Miller and Phil Lord had been kicked out of the project – it didn't take for long for the next ”scandal”. Of course it wasn't common to hear director(s) getting fired from the project where they had worked more than a day or two. Multiple movies have had their directors replaced, for example Gone With the Wind (George Cukor was replaced with Victor Fleming) and Spartacus (Anthony Mann was fired, Stanley Kubrick hired) and even Disney/Pixar Ratatouille (Jan Pinkava was replaced with Brad Bird). But hardly ever you hear directors being replaced after months of work – Miller and Lord had only three weeks of shooting left.

Nevertheless, the new ”scandal” with this Han Solo movie has caused a lot of noise. According to several sources, including THR, the Han Solo actor is getting some help from an acting coach. This actor, Alden Ehrenreich, got the role according to several reports because ”he was perfect for it”, and personally I tend to think so too, although he doesn't look like the original Han Solo actor, Harrison Ford. However, his performance in crime comedy Hail, Caesar! shows that he is very much capable to channel that kind of a youngman, who Harrison Ford may have been in his early years both on the screen and maybe a bit in his personal life too.

Many fans got angry, because instead of an actor they actually wished to see a HarrisonFord look-a-like in action. Many have been shouting Anthony Ingruber's name. Mr. Ingruber briefly performed Ford's youngerversion on the big screen in The Age of Adaline. According to Ingruber fans belief he wouldn't have needed acting coach to play Han Solo.

Faith is a strange thing, maybe my faith to Mr. Ehrenreich is false, maybe their faith to Mr. Ingruber is false. The fact is, none of us common people have seen neither of them on the big screen as Han Solo – yet. They both are young and handsome lads, who probably can give you a short Harrison Ford impression if asked, just like many others can, but when you need to fill a huge role, which was made iconic decades ago by another young and handsome lad, a guy, who later publicly told that he wasn't happy with his performance, although many fell in love with his character's attitude, actions and humour, you're in a position as complex as this sentence.

Mr. Ehrenreich was chosen to the part, because the producers, Star Wars veterans, saw him being the best choice.

Why the acting coach then? According to CinemaBlend, hiring an acting coach is not uncommon. This same publication also points out that the coach is Maggie Kiley, who had been working with the fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller in their movie 21 Jump Street.

Lord and Miller likes to improvise. This means, they didn't follow the Han Solo movie script as the writer and producer Lawrence Kasdan had wanted. Also their efficency was questioned publicly after their firing: reports say they started shooting sometimes as late as 1 p.m. and shot less material than the producers had preferred.

With this information, it looks like the main problem could have been the methods of the ex-directors. Maybe improvisation is not quite Mr. Ehrenreich's thing. I doubt Mr. Ingruber had succeeded in it either, after all his version of Harrison Ford or Han Solo is based strongly on the moves and lines which he has studied to repeat. In improvisation you need also to have an ability to create something new and your own in a flash. AND in this case you should still keep on the illusion of this certain character, Han Solo, who is now going to be shown in totally new adventures.
When you watch improvised shows, you can often notice that it's tiring for an actor to create something new from a scratch constantly. Also, if you need to be humorous in your performance, like in this case, you need to work twice as hard. Robin Williams, the genius of this performing art, could have told that too.

Maybe Maggie Kiley was brought in to coach Mr. Ehrenreich, because she had worked with Lord & Miller earlier. Another reason could have been that maybe they all felt she could throw in fresh ideas to boost his performance in the situation, where both the crew and cast were getting tired of the poor atmosphere on the set.

Will Maggie Kiley stay coaching Mr. Ehrenreich in this movie, that's unkonwn right now. Having Ron Howard as director this movie will be perhaps good. The film is now in hands of someone, who by his age is closer to the writer Lawrence Kasdan and the other Star Wars veterans than Lord and Miller were. Mr. Howard also knew the creator of the Star Wars, George Lucas already before the great saga had started and were in the same movie as an actor as pre-Solo Harrison Ford was. Lastly, there's probably no genre movie Mr. Howard could not do – his filmography includes fantasy (Willow), science fiction (Apollo 13), awarded drama (A Beautiful Mind), thriller (The Da Vinci Code)… So, there we have a guy, whom we can assume to understand what the producers want and what else than money is driving them to pursue that.

Final note: While trying to think this from Mr. Ehrenreich's point of view, I can't help but going back to Hail, Caesar! again. In that movie his character, an actor of action movies, needs serious coaching for his new role. Is this reality following fantasy?

There's been concerns about the studio's (Disney) future, concerns if can they keep gaining more profits with these big movie franchises like Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean. Some fans were against Han Solo movie, and the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie hasn't sold as well as it could have. If you're painting the future of this particular Star Wars film black enough, with scandals from the set and all, but the film eventually does at least fairly well, the studio wins again. In 2015 Disney stock hit two times $120, but currently their stock costs about $105. Let's see how much concerns can drop the price this time...

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