Ever since it was announced that Phil Lord and Chris Miller would team up to direct a Star Wars spin-off movie about a young Han Solo, the question has been, “Who’s playing Han?” With LucasFilm undertaking a massive search through thousands of actors, the word is that nearly every twenty-something white male in Hollywood has put an audition to tape.
Monday morning, Variety reported that the search has been narrowed down to a shortlist that includes Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Dave Franco, Jack Reynor, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, Emory Cohen (Brooklyn), and Blake Jenner (of the upcoming Richard Linklater film Everybody Wants Some). While an EW article disputes the exact makeup of that shortlist, they too report that a shortlist does exist and a decision is expected to be made within the next couple of weeks.
The unfortunate part of this news — and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this — is that none of those candidates seem like the right actor to play the most beloved rogue in the galaxy. I think Miles Teller is one of the most promising talents of his generation, and Dave Franco has been ably carrying his weight alongside major stars with little recognition. I like them both, but neither of them seem quite right, and neither do any of those other names. (Especially Ansel “DJ Ansolo” Elgort. Seriously, I’m not sure I could even watch the Ansolo movie.)
The solution? Look no farther than the casting for Episode VII. The part should go to an unknown.
Young Han Solo is such a tall order to fill, and so specific that it actually reverses how casting usually works. Most of the time a role is a vessel, and that vessel is filled by the actor chosen to play the role. What we need in this case is an actor who can be a vessel to hold the character of Han Solo. That requires the actor in question to be the human equivalent of a blank slate — at least when it comes to the public’s perception of the actor.
That’s because we carry the ideas we have about an actor into the theater with us every time we see them perform. Clever casting directors use that to find actors whose public personas somehow complement their roles — even if they’re playing against type. But for this role ANY pre-Solo idea we have about an actor could potentially wreck our ability to see past that actor and into the character.
So please, casting directors, find the male equivalent of Daisy Ridley — someone capable, with star quality, who brings no baggage to the role. It’s the only way we’ll get the Han Solo we deserve.