Films

10 things you (probably) didn’t know about the new Han Solo

Holster those blasters.

We still have quite the wait ahead of Disney's young Han Solo film - 25 May 2018 to be exact - but at least we can take solace that the arduous and highly hush-hush casting process has come to an end with news Alden Ehrenreich has bagged the coveted role.

A solo film in more ways than one, much will rely on the performance of the 26-year-old, who faces the tricky task of stepping into the shoes one of Hollywood's most iconic characters while also starring in what is essentially the first one-person origins story in the sci-fi saga's cinematic canon.

But just what do we know about this young hotshot? Does he have the goods to back it up, and how the hell do you pronounce his name? 

Step this way for 10 fact nuggets about the latest player in the Star Wars universe.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo

    He was first discovered by Steven Spielberg

    A not so short time ago at a bat mitzvah far, far away (California), 14-year-old Ehrenreich featured in a short skit screened for the assembled guests – including, momentously, one Steven Spielberg. Despite the actor since admitting it wasn’t his greatest work (“It's a piece of sh*t - I ran around as a skinny little punk, trying on girls' clothes and eating dirt”) the legendary director clearly like what he saw, and persuaded the youngster to start auditioning for parts, leading to small TV roles on CSI and Supernatural.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 1

    He's a current favourite with a few other big directors too

    There was no glorified extra work on Sharknado 5 behind this lucky scamp's rise to acclaim - Ehrenreich's feature film debut was the stuff of dreams: the starring role in Francis Ford Coppola’s 2009 film Tetro, a role won by reciting a passage from Catcher in the Rye at the request of Coppola himself. From there it only got better for the budding star, chalking up appearances in another Coppola film, Twixt, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Park Chan-Wook’s Stoker, and, more recently, the Coen brothers’ screwball comedy Hail Caesar!.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 2

    He was almost a Marvel superhero

    Not only did Ehrenreich attend Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University, he also had designs on playing the city's foremost web slinger, auditioning for the poster role of 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man, which eventually went to Andrew Garfield. Not deterred, two years later he unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Peter Parker's mate Harry Osborn in the flop sequel, which, let’s be honest, was some bullet dodging Spidey would have been proud of.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 3

    You’ve been mispronouncing his surname

    It's pronounced 'eye-ren-rike'. And yes, it does sound a little like Iron Mike.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 4

    He’s had a brief taste of the heartthrob thing

    Cast as the young male lead in 2003's witchcraft film Beautiful Creatures, a supposed quasi-rival to the Twilight series, Ehrenreich’s role brought him a legion of fan-girls. Albeit not quite enough - the film tanked at the box office, with plans for any sequels promptly shelved. Still, as silver linings go, Ehrenreich was able to hone his craft by watching the likes of co-star Jeremy Irons, who he had this to say about: “I’d go watch Jeremy on the monitors when he was doing a scene with Viola [Davis] or Emma [Thompson] because it’s like free acting class to see these people work.”

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 5

    He is of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage

    Ehrenreich’s ancestors immigrated from Russia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Tatooine. OK, we made that last one up. An LA native, his mother worked as an interior designer and his stepfather is an orthodontist.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 6

    He co-founded a production company in 2009

    There’s clearly a lot of smarts to Ehrenreich, who set up a film and theatre company consisting of 30ish acting students while studying at NYU. 'The Collectin' is now based in LA where it runs regular workshops along with monthly performances at Hollywood's Three Clubs Cocktail Lounge. The group has also produced films, including Running Wild, a coming-of-age story starring Ehrenreich and fellow co-founder Zoe Worth as two childhood friends who go on a road trip ‘encountering blood, sex, and a Bar Mitzvah along the way’. And no, Spielberg isn't there.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 7

    You might see him in a massive film sooner than you think

    Or not… While he is set to appear in Warren Beatty’s untitled Howard Hughes film, playing an ambitious young businessman who finds himself tangled up with the notorious recluse (Beatty), the shoot wrapped back in 2014 and Ehrenreich has confessed he has no idea when the film will see the light of day, telling Rolling Stone: "He's editing it, that's pretty much all I know".

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 8

    Some call him the space cowboy

    "When I was a little kid, my parents would show me Marx Brothers' films and westerns and stuff like that,” he told one interviewer of his early cinematic experiences. “That's where all my desire to be an actor comes from and probably most of my understanding of acting comes from for sure." 

    Bizarrely enough, his role in Hail Caesar!, as a dopey cowboy, saw him fulfill a dream of sorts: “As soon as I got the part I was doing horseback riding, trick roping, gun twirling, guitar. And the spaghetti lasso, which was the hardest,” he told The Guardian. He’ll have to be quick on the draw in the Star Wars universe, that's for sure.

  • 10 things you (probably) didn't know about the new Han Solo 9

    He appears to be at ease with fame (so far)

    It’s lovely to know that just before he’s thrust into a whole new stratosphere of nerdish acclaim, he's not yet been overawed by fame:

    "I grew up around Los Angeles, and around people who have experienced the film industry in some way, or have been around it enough to not freak out about it."

    Though he's also previously said this:

    "I've been in movies where so much of the conversation was about, 'Well, after this movie, you're gonna be the biggest movie star'. I sort of have learned that you never really can predict any of that. I don't really know what it's like when you have a big breakout thing happen and you're on the level of George [Clooney]… I could drive right now to the building next door and no one knows who I am. That's kind of nice.”

    Yeah, he might want to enjoy that while it lasts.