Who Should Play Young Han Solo?

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

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

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

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

Props to Tor.com 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

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

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.


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