Famed director talks risk-taking and tells us one way Solo is superior to any previous entry in the Star Wars franchise.
Though The Last Jedi was released on the same day in Japan as it was in the U.S., the Star Wars franchise decided to give Japanese audiences a bit more space between the divisive eighth episode of the mainline series and it’s latest side project, Solo: A Star Wars Story. While we’re generally an impatient bunch, the delay in Solo coming to Japan, where it opens June 29, does have a silver lining, in that director Ron Howard has traveled to Tokyo to promote the Japanese premiere.
Hot off his recent interviews of Mark Hamill and Ryan Reynolds, SoraNews24’s Japanese-language reporter and movie lover P.K. Sanjun sat down for a chat with Howard to discuss the challenges of joining a film in mid-production as well as one area in which Solo unquestionably surpasses any other Star Wars film.
P.K.: When I first heard this movie was being made, I thought “The people working on this must be incredibly brave.” I mean, this is Han Solo we’re talking about. So many people have such strong feelings about the character, and that’s got to be constraining for filmmakers.”
Howard: Hahaha, well, you’re right about that.
P.K.: And then you came on as director mid-way through filming. That had to have taken a lot of courage, right?
Howard: For me, yes, it did. It was like someone was telling me “Make the movie!” There’re definitely risks when you join a project after filming has begun. But it’s also an opportunity to help out a lot of creative partners, and I really liked the film’s story.
I also thought I could apply my experiences as a filmmaker to the project. I’ve worked on many films, and I think it’s important to not be afraid to take risks. It definitely takes courage, but not trying isn’t a choice.
Being a director is my life’s work, and so I can’t just keep doing the same things over and over. If I don’t take risks, I might end up losing interest in the film, and audiences might too.
P.K.: That’s a really cool directing philosophy.
Howard: [laughs] But I had a lot of faith in the film’s story. I thought that this could be something that a lot of people will enjoy, and we made the movie while keeping a strong respect for the audience in mind.
P.K.: Were you already a Star Wars fan prior to working on Solo?
Howard: I love Star Wars. I mean, I saw A New Hope on opening weekend in 1977 at the Chinese Theater [in Hollywood]. I still remember going there with my wife on Saturday morning.”
P.K.: That’s hardcore.
Howard: We waited in line for two hours. But even after the movie was over, I was still so excited, so I asked my wife, “Should we see it again?” Then we got back in line and waited two more hours to watch it one more time.
After that, I was fortunate enough to develop a friendship with George Lucas, so I got to know a lot of what was happening behind the scenes with the franchise. But I never imagined something so crazy as having the chance to be involved with Star Wars as a director would happen.
P.K.: Sounds like you’re a serious fan! Changing gears, in Solo, do you have a favorite character?
Howard: It’s got to be Chewbacca. It was so fun getting to direct Han and Chewbacca. We talked about risks, and this film takes risks. But a great thing is that, compared to any other film in the franchise, this one has the most for Chewbacca to do.
P.K.: Yeah, watching the film, Chewbacca plays an active part in a ton of scenes.
Howard: That’s one way I’m really satisfied with how thoroughly we were able to show the relationship between Chewbacca and Han.
P.K.: Changing topics again, you started out as a child actor before transitioning to directing. Did you do that just by following your creative instincts? Life moves so fast in the world today, and it’s so important to be able to change and evolve.
Howard: Becoming a director had been a dream of mine since I was a boy. Even when I was a child actor, I thought “I could become a director.” Of course, I still had to prove that to other people.
Howard: Of course, at the time there were people who thought “Going from a child actor to a director? That’s impossible.” But when I got a chance to direct, even though it wasn’t a huge success, it wasn’t an outright failure either, and I was able to start my career as a director.
You mentioned changing and evolving. Humans aren’t such simple creatures, and, in extreme terms, you could say that many different personalities all share space within a single person. For example, inside me there’s a tortoise and a dolphin.
P.K. A tortoise and a dolphin?
Howard: Yes. The first shows up when I’m doing things slowly, but carefully. But then there’s a side of me that’s excitable and active, jumping from one thing to the next. Those parts of my personality are like two different animals, but they’re both part of me, so there’s no need to try to suppress one of them.
P.K.: That’s a really nice way of putting it.
Howard: It’s the same with Solo. There’s a Han Solo that fans already know, and a Han Solo that’s fans don’t know yet, and that’s why I think people will enjoy this movie.