The Hollywood Reporter has revealed new details regarding Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s shocking exit as directors from the upcoming Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story.
Last Tuesday, the news broke that the directing duo had been fired from the project after months of creatively clashing with both Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and franchise veteran scribe Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote the script for the Han Solo spinoff along with his son. Lord and Miller had reportedly gone off script, against the wishes of Kennedy and Kasdan, and opted for a more improvisational approach to the film rather than operating within the parameters set by the studio. Kennedy did not approve of their shooting style as well as their process of interacting with the cast and crew either. Ultimately, Ron Howard was brought on to replace the pair in an effort to keep the film on schedule for it’s May 2018 release date.
Now THR has unearthed several new unsettling details which will certainly not calm fans fears about the state of the production, or at least what has been captured for the project thus far. According to the trade’s sources, the duo had not begun shooting on the day of their firing until 1 p.m., with only three variations on camera placement rather than the 12-15 Kennedy expected, leaving little options to stitch together in the editing room. The scene they were filming was said to take place in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
Tensions between Lucasfilm and the directors had already reached their boiling point in May when production began in the Canary Islands after filming in London since February. Not satisfied with the performance Lord and Miller were getting out of Alden Ehrenreich, who plays the young Han Solo, an acting coach was brought in. The directing duo reportedly suggested writer-director Maggie Kiley who previously worked on 21 Jump Street with them. Editor Chris Dickens (Macbeth) was also replaced by Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator).
After these attempts to course correct the production were not effective, Kennedy had Kasdan fly to London. Rather than just be removed from the project entirely, the Lucasfilm president had hoped to have Kasdan step in and recreate a scenario similar to where Tony Gilroy came on board to retool Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with the cooperation of Gareth Edwards as the initial cut of the first ever Star Wars spinoff was reportedly too dark and strayed too far away from the tone established in the Skywalker saga. Lord and Miller, however, were not willing to adapt to such a change.
The duo’s vision had “deep fundamental philosophical differences” with that of Lucasfilm’s. They felt they were given “zero creative freedom” under “extreme scheduling constraints” and “were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning.”
Sources close to the production said it was clear from the start that Lord and Miller’s improvisational approach was not the right fit for a set with hundreds of crew members who need clear direction. “You have to make decisions much earlier than what they’re used to,” one of the trade’s sources said. “I don’t know if it’s because there were two of them but they were not decisive.” While both directors seemed to take into account the complaints voiced by production department heads, no changes to their approach were ever made.
Another source who is close to the directors said that the directors maintained the same improvisational approach they had on their other highly successful such as 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie. “They collaborate closely with their actors and give them creative freedom that, in their experience, brings out the actors’ best performances,” the source explained before adding that “Lawrence Kasdan would not allow this and demanded that every line was said word for word. To appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes.”
Kasdan is also said to be very unhappy with the limited shots and displeased that Lord and Miller were going off script and calling out lines for the actors to try from behind the monitor instead. After it became clear the directing duo could not together work with Kasdan, Kennedy was left with no choice but to remove the pair from the project. The following day, the crew was notified that Howard set to take over as director which the crew applauded. Howard is set to arrive in London to begin his work on the film June 26. While the film was scheduled to wrap principal photography in July, shooting will now extend into September.
Howard himself was reportedly concerned about how Lord and Miller would react to his hiring considering the circumstances and contacted them via email to which another source said the duo has been“very supportive, very elegant” towards Howard. Another inside also revealed that plenty of what Lord and Miller shot for the film will still be “very usable.”
The Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story has been written by Lawrence Kasdan and son Jon Kasdan. The film stars Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo along with Joonas Suotomo as Chewbacca and Donald Glover as the young Lando Calrissian. The cast also includes Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Michael K. Williams, and Ian Kenny.
The Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Story is currently slated for release on May 25, 2018.
Stay tuned to Heroic Hollywood for the latest news on the future of the Star Wars franchise as we learn it.