Feb 6 2013 6:00pm

Who Should Play Young Han Solo?

who should play young Han Solo casting rumors

Two days ago we were questioning how we should feel about a standalone Star Wars prequel focusing on Yoda’s (very long) life. Since then, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger has confirmed the existence of spin-off films—and Entertainment Weekly now reports that two movies in particular will focus on Boba Fett and Han Solo.

First, the necessary grain of salt: EW acquired the information from unnamed sources, and neither Lucasfilm nor Disney have officially commented. But this seems to be the direction both projects are headed, and they’ve already set the internet ablaze with casting ideas. Seriously, did you ever think we’d live in an era where “Han Solo” is trending on Twitter?

According to EW, Han’s adventure would take place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. (Which means Timothy Zahn’s Scoundrels is probably out as source material, too bad.) Harrison Ford was 35 when he played the smuggler in the first Star Wars movie; Wookieepedia pegs Han at 29 during the Battle of Yavin. So we’re looking at an actor who can play mid-twenties, give or take.

I’ve compiled my choices from the conversations occurring over Twitter and Tumblr, along with my own opinions. That said, I’m sure there are plenty of up-and-comers I haven’t heard of—so please share them in the comments!

Right off the bat, we have to let go of our dreams of stars far too old, like Nathan Fillion or Joel McHale. Also, let me assure you that I’m not pulling for Shia LaBeouf. The most consistent tweet popping up under the “Han Solo” hashtag is the fear that the Transformers star will get the role—presumably since he played Ford’s son in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Nope.


Garrett Hedlund

who should play young Han Solo Garrett Hedlund Star Wars standalone

Might as well lead with my personal frontrunner. Though Hedlund is reportedly attached to the Tron: Legacy sequel, he could easily take on another franchise. Starring as Dean Moriarty in On the Road proved not only that he’s got charisma, but that even at his most despicable you still root for him.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt

who should play young Han Solo Joseph Gordon-Levitt Star Wars standalone

Ryan Britt has already discussed why J.J. Abrams helming the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy in addition to Star Trek represents a homogenization of geek culture. In that same vein, I could envision JGL playing everyone’s favorite smuggler. It would be fun, if a bit too easy, especially after he wowed us in Inception and embodied another iconic character in The Dark Knight Rises. All that geek cred might make him too safe. And the last thing we want our young Han to be is safe.


Thomas Mann

who should play young Han Solo Thomas Mann Star Wars standalone

If you want to aim for Han’s younger adventures with Garris Shrike and at the Imperial Academy, 21-year-old Mann could fit the bill. Of all the guys on this list, he’s the most unknown, having starred in Project X and appearing in the upcoming Beautiful Creatures. It could be that the best thing for this standalone film is an actor upon whom we can’t thrust any predictions. Also, am I the only one seeing a young Ford in Mann’s lopsided smile?


Ezra Miller

who should play young Han Solo Ezra Miller Star Wars standalone

Props to writer Danny Bowes for suggesting this one! Though his recent roles have landed on the psychotic end of the spectrum, Miller has an undeniable magnetism in movies like We Need to Talk About Kevin. That said, I can already foresee some backlash from fans who might be unable to separate the very heterosexual Solo from Miller’s self-assured statements that he’s queer. (Remember how people freaked out at the idea of a gay James Bond based on just one scene in Skyfall?)


Aaron Taylor-Johnson

who should play young Han Solo Aaron Johnson Star Wars standalone

There’s a chance that a Han Solo prequel will necessarily star a pouty brunette; and for that, I would put forward Aaron Taylor-Johnson. He knows the pressure it takes to play iconic figures from real life (John Lennon in Nowhere Boy) and comics (Dave Lizewski in Kick-Ass). What’s more, he’s got that goofiness that brings to mind A New Hope-era Han and his one-liners.


Donald Glover

who should play young Han Solo Donald Glover fan art

I’m kidding on this one. But the second-most consistent tweet I saw today was folks joking about mounting a pro-Glover campaign after he missed out on starring in The Amazing Spider-Man. However, if Hollywood were unwilling to envision a black Peter Parker in a reboot, I doubt they’d see Han as anything but white.

The other big question is, would we want Harrison Ford to be involved in these movies? EW pointed out that Ford could play an elderly Han in a framing device. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to see any of the original actors playing such old versions of their characters.

Natalie Zutter is a playwright, foodie, and the co-creator of Leftovers, a webcomic about food trucks in the zombie apocalypse. Her writing has appeared on Ology and Crushable, where she discusses celebrity culture alongside internet memes (or vice versa). Weekly you can find her commenting on pop culture on KoPoint’s podcast AFK On Air, calling in to the Hunger Games Fireside Chat podcast, reviewing new releases at Movie Mezzanine, and on Twitter.

1. McDude
So, if we can't have Donald Glover as a young Han Solo, why on earth not as a young Lando Calrissian? I'd have to imagine that winning the Millenium Falcon will have to be a plot point in a Han backstory film, so you absolutely need a Lando.
2. gilbetron
McDude: Yes! That is brilliant. Of course, you could never find a better casting choice than Donald Glover for Lando Calrissian.
Natalie Zutter
3. nataliezutter
@McDude - Yes! Brilliant! I had such tunnel vision while writing this that I didn't even begin to contemplate who should play Lando. Boom.
4. Dean456
I can see a young Han Solo in Thomas Mann but whether he has the acting chops to pull off Han Solo is yet to be determained

Also I feel like he might be too young I prefer to see a 25-30 year old Han Solo and Thomas Mann still looks in his teens.
5. XenaCatolica
Or...they leave it the hell alone. I think GenX has already suffered enough crimes against the icons of our youth.
Alan Brown
6. AlanBrown
Haven't the prequels taught us (as if we didn't already know) that backstory should stay either in the author's head, or at most, scribbled in notebooks kept in a trunk somewhere?
8. Dav
Chris Pine would be perfect but the geekverse might implode. And I do think he has a lot of respect for Kirk ANC would turn it down. Although maybe JJ could convince him.
9. JMO
Defenitively I can see a James Mann to Harrison Ford (ESB) relation in this picture.

Knowing fully well it's a 20 something actor on the look out, blows any chance of me hoping to put James McAvoy in the roster.

I know young Prof. Xavier has got a great deal of work to come; but still would like to see him portray a young Solo. Since SW and ST could do with sharing Director, I wonder if Marvel and SW couldn't do the same. (and ... my 2 pennies... i would have liked him in Tron, probably why I hope him in SW instead of Hedlund)
F Shelley
10. FSS
@alanbrown - you're speaking for me right there. I wouldn't mind new stories set in the sw universe, but i really think the main cast should be allowed to fade away.

i read the zahn trilogy way back in the early mod 90s, andby the time the x-wing series came out i was bored of it all...

it's really too bad george lucas died in 1989 and others have foisted such crap on us for over 20 years now...
Clare McBride
11. The Literary Omnivore
That said, I can already foresee some backlash from fans who might be unable to separate the very heterosexual Solo from Miller’s self-assured statements that he’s queer. (Remember how people freaked out at the idea of a gay James Bond based on just one scene in Skyfall?)

I have to say, that wording really rubs me the wrong way—stressing Miller assuring himself that he's queer, instead of the fact that he, you know, is, and that's what some, let's face it, morons might flip out about. Ahem!

As for the topic at hand, I think Hedlund is the best choice—not only has he the swagger and the acting chops, but he's a feasible physical match for Ford. And I echo a call for Donald Glover as a young Lando.
Liz J
12. Ellisande
Darn, I was really hoping the Yoda rumor meant they were talking about Old Republic stories, set a hundred years or more before. Guess I should've known better.

Anyway, assuming we're stuck with it, then I want someone less known and not already glued into a big franchise. I do like Hedlund and he can channel the attitude, but I read when Finnick was being cast (Hedlund came up then, too) that he'd been reluctant to sign onto a smallish franchise like Tron. If that's really true, then I can't imagine he would want to play Han Solo.

Aaron Tveit maybe? He's gained some fame from Les Miz and being on Gossip Girl, but isn't a big star already, toiled on tv and stage getting experience, and has some charisma, too.
13. Hedgehog Dan
McDude: my thoughts, exactly.
Regarding Joseph Gordon-Lewitt, am I the only one who immediately thought about Jim Hawkins from Treasure Planet?
Natalie Zutter
14. nataliezutter
@theliteraryomnivore - Sorry to have rubbed you the wrong way. That's not how I meant to phrase it, though I see how it came off that way. What I was trying to get across is that Ezra is so comfortable in his own skin and can easily say in interviews, "I'm queer" like it's no problem. So I meant "self-assured" as in "confident."
15. Lionel
Anthony Ingruber is the absolute perfect choice. Seriously, check him out. He looks exactly like a young Harrison Ford AND has a lot of videos on youtube with him doing dead on impressions of Han Solo and Indiana Jones among others.
16. Raphaell
I'm gonna through Dave Franco into the mix. he can play the likeable a-hole well, he has the looks for Solo as well.
17. Denise B
Lionel, I had never heard of Anthont Ingruber, but I checked him out and you are right. He could be a young Ford easily.

I like the thought of Donald Glover as Lando.

But all this makes me kind of sad, because I really do not want them to screw up SW more.

I read so many Han Solo books and would love for his time before A New Hope to just not make it to film now.

Though that was NOT my thinking when I read them.
Pernilla Leijonhufvud
18. Therru
So, has Miller stated that Han Solo is queer, or that he himself (Miller) is queer? Because if it's the latter, I fail to see why it even matters. That's why it's called "acting" -- an actor is portraying a character who is not, actually, themselves. A good actor can even portray someone who is very different from themselves, like, say, a powerful wizard or a superspy hitman or even (gasp) someone who really fancies someone else even though they actually don't.
19. Crysren
I was just watching the Return of the Jedi the other day and realized how much Harrison Ford and Ian Somerhalder reminded me of each other...I know its a wierd connection to make but if you watch the Vampire Diaries and then go watch Star Wars, you'll see it too.
20. katha
Nathan Fillian as Han Solo...
21. Sheryl kee
Ugh. Where are the new faces? And why are all the choices so geeky, so fine- boned? lol. While the audience may be geeky, Han Solo was not. He was the "don't get in my way" selfish bully. Give us a man's man with some hair on his chest.
Shelly wb
22. shellywb
People would care if a self-assured gay man plays Han Solo? I must have missed the fuss over Magneto and Gandalf.

I hadn't considered Ezra Miller for the part, but the first time I ever saw him his charisma hit me like a truck load of bricks. I think Han would get overwhelmed by him.

OK, I just checked out Anthony Ingruber on youtube. He's the man for the job.
23. tazpwrs
Jared Padalecki. Charismatic? Check. Handsome but still rugged? Check. In my opinion he and Jensen Ackles (his co-star on Supernatural) are the only real manly men in the business today.
Natalie Zutter
24. nataliezutter
@Therru - You're right, it's the latter: Miller did an interview a few months ago where he stated, "I'm queer." Really, I meant this purely as an aside and not part of the larger "who should play Han Solo?" argument. I know that in some cases an actor's sexuality, though it's divorced from the character, can still affect viewers' perceptions of the character. Case in point, this article from The Daily Beast. That's the only point I was trying to make.
Stefan Raets
25. Stefan
All of this speculation is very amusing, but let's be honest: we all know it's going to be Justin Bieber, right?


Just think of the musical numbers!
26. ad101867
Totally sold on Anthony Ingruber as Han:
27. Interesting
I'll tell you who looks (and has quirks) like Harrison Ford: an actor named Matthew Davis. He's currently on the CW's Vampire Diaries, and maybe he's getting too old for the "young Han Solo" role, but if you watch him in Legally Blonde, where he plays Reece Witherspoon's love interest, it is INSANE how much he looks like a young Harrison Ford. Just watch the first 15 minutes of that film, specifically the scene where he and Reece are on a date, and tell me that he doesn't act just like Ford.

He's got the squinty eye smile, a teeth-filled grin, and a slight mischievous look to him.
Christopher Hatton
28. Xopher
I get that it wasn't your reservation about Miller, but that jackholes might make a fuss. But then jackholes made a fuss about a character being played by an African-American when the character was black in the book (The Hunger Games, remember?), so I see little point in worrying about it. People will exclaim in outrage whoever is cast.

I wasn't particularly aware of Miller until this article. Good grief, he was born and grew up right here in town! I wonder if any of my friends' kids went to school with him.
Michael Burke
29. Ludon
Freddie Highmore. If you're talking about rolling the cameras tomorow, he might still be a bit young, but in a year or two he might be just right. He's got the looks and he can act. He's proven that he can do a lot in a scene with little or no dialogue.
30. Alex Kane
I think Hedlund's the solid choice for a Solo flick, but fear that Shia LaBeouf's history with Disney might land him the gig. I'd also like to see Anthony Mackie, of whom I've been a fan since George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau, make an appearance as Lando at some point, if we're talking pre-OT era Solo.

And can we all agree that Zack Galifianakis would make a perfect Chewie?
Alan Brown
31. AlanBrown
I think Shia's negative comments about Transformers and Indiana Jones have burned some bridges in Hollywood. He says he has decided to do independent films, but I think that also has something to do with a lack of offers from the big studios. I think his 'history' has taken a negative turn.
Garrett Myers
32. thisisgarrett
@McDude: I would also like to see Donald Glover as a young Lando. I wasn't even thinking about that. Great observation. I also vote for Hedlund. We will see...
33. Morley
Garrett Hedlund looks like a great choice. He's the only one on this list with a deep enough voice and the only one who doesn't look like a sissy. Not to mention he can act. All they need to do is include a scene where he gets the chin scar and we're in business. We don't need a wimpy little fruit playing Han Solo. Hedlund is the best choice.
34. Tigrgrl52
I agree with "Interesting." Matthew Davis would be perfect in the role of a young Han Solo (or reprising Indiana Jones in some Nazi-fighting action...?). Dennis Quaid could also play him if needing an older-but-not-as-old-as-Harrison-Ford Han Solo, but otherwise I am really rooting for Matt Davis. His character in The Vampire Diaries basically is Indiana Jones (if Indy were a vampire hunter by night), and the reason Harrison was so perfect for both roles is that Indy is essentially similar to Han (over-confident, sarcastic, scruffy-looking, etc.).
35. Jgoody
How about Tom Hardy? I mean look at him in that photo with Gordon-Levvitt!

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