Last night we got the shocking news that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had been fired from the STAR WARS Han Solo spinoff with only three weeks left to go on filming. In a press release, both Lucasfilm and Lord & Miller agreed that they parted ways over “creative differences”, but what did those differences entail?
According to Variety, the split came because Lord and Miller’s improvisational style clashed with how producer Kathleen Kennedy liked a tightly controlled set. “It was a culture clash from day one,” the source said. “She didn’t even like the way they folded their socks.” I’m not exactly sure why Kennedy would be overseeing sock-folding, but point taken.
The source said that while Lord and Miller were supposedly hired for their vision and distinctive brand of filmmaking when it came to the “Star Wars” production, Kennedy did not approve of their shooting style and process of interacting with actors and crew. “They weren’t given the leeway to do what they had to do,” the source said.
Additionally, Lord and Miller also clashed with co-writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan, which THR reports as well. A source tells THR that Lord and Miller’s view of Han Solo clashed with what Kasdan wanted: “People need to understand that Han Solo is not a comedic personality. He’s sarcastic and selfish,” said that source. Kennedy, who had worked with Kasdan for decades, backed her longtime colleague over the directors.
Last night, Mike Sampson, former editor-in-chief of ScreenCrush, tweeted out what he had heard. According to Sampson, Kennedy felt that the movie wasn’t STAR WARS-y enough, so she wanted to bring in a director to do reshoots like she did on ROGUE ONE. Whereas ROGUE ONE helmer Gareth Edwards was willing to allow Tony Gilroy to handle reshoots, Lord and Miller refused letting another director come in to retool their movie. While apparently “everyone” loved what Lord and Miller were trying to do, it didn’t fit with a risk-averse studio’s vision, and because Lord and Miller stuck to their guns, they were let go.
The major question that remains is how this all came to be so late in the process? Especially after ROGUE ONE where Edwards clearly wanted to make a war film and they discovered that’s not what they wanted, one would think they would make sure they were on the same page with future directors in order to avoid making the same mistake. Also, it’s not Lord and Miller are neophytes, and their working style would be fairly well known by this point, so why did Kennedy expect them to change? Additionally, when Lord and Miller pitched their view on Han Solo, wouldn’t have Kasdan known at the outset that’s not the direction they wanted to take the character?
I’m sure someone will write a great book on this in about twenty years, but until then, it’s just a total bummer that Lord and Miller have been let go and that yet another STAR WARS project has run into trouble.
According to THR, Ron Howard (INFERNO) and Joe Johnston (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) have both emerged as names to possibly take control of the project. Neither one is currently filming anything, although Howard is attached to adapt the bestselling memoir HILLBILLY ELEGY and Johnston is on board to direct the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA sequel/reboot THE SILVER CHAIR. Both directors are veterans of the industry, and would likely play ball with producer Kathleen Kennedy in making sure the studio’s vision reached the screen in a timely and efficient manner.
Other sources suggest that co-writer and executive producer Lawrence Kasdan could come in to direct since he already knows what needs to be fixed, but as THR points out, “That move could be complicated by DGA rules preventing someone already working on a film taking over for a director that is being replaced except for a short-term emergency.”
What’s clear is that whomever takes over for Lord and Miller will not only have their work cut out for them—they have to finish shooting and then also oversee reshoots in addition to post-production—but also someone who’s willing to work inside the system and make the movie that the studio wants. There aren’t going to be any creative firebrands coming down the line to take over HAN SOLO. That’s not to say the movie will be bad, but rather they’re looking for a competent journeyman who will carry the project across the finish line with minimal drama.
The untitled HAN SOLO film opens May 25, 2018, and stars Alden Ehrenreich as the intergalactic rogue alongside Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge also star.