Ron Howard is a well-known and established director, but taking over Solo: A Star Wars Story with only weeks left of principal photography was still a feat unto itself. The movie stars Alden Ehrenreich as the younger version of Harrison Ford’s iconic rogue, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, but things weren’t so smooth behind the scenes.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Howard addressed what happened during Solo‘s major changes. Former directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired over “creative differences,” and the Academy Award winner was brought in to finish the film.
“I understood that this difference had created a schism to the point where they weren’t going to be able to go on working together, and that was really unfortunate because I like Phil and Chris, and I also really admire them. When I looked at the footage and read the script, which I liked, I felt like I understood what it was that the studio and Lucasfilm were looking for in finishing the movie and reshooting some of the movie, and in a few places, I thought of reconceiving a few scenes, which they were open to.
I had some really comforting conversations with Phil and Chris, who let me know that they weren’t leaving because I was coming in. For me, it was an absolute exercise in professionalism and friendship, and it indirectly led to a season of Willow, which we’re doing now [with] Jonathan Kasdan.”
Howard added that he wasn’t technically new to the world of Star Wars, having worked with and known creator George Lucas for decades, so he felt prepared to take on the job.
“I’ve been around Star Wars forever. He didn’t have a title for it at the time, but while we were shooting American Graffiti, George Lucas described what he hoped his next movie would be. And he described Star Wars, and I’ve always been a fan, yet those projects take about three years, and it never made sense for me.”
Howard expressed great admiration for Lord and Miller and how unfortunate the situation was. He felt as though he knew what the studio and Lucasfilm were looking for and re-conceived a few scenes.
He also had “comforting conversations” with the former directors, who confirmed that they weren’t leaving because Howard was coming in, leaving him to carefully navigate their professional and personal relationship.
Solo wasn’t all that well-received by fans or critics, and out of all the Disney-released Star Wars films, it made the least money with a global take of $393 million. It was originally meant to start a series of follow-up movies, too, but because of the lackluster results, the Solo story has been dead in outer space.
Still, it wasn’t a total loss. The Lando spinoff show remains in the works at Disney Plus, and there’s still hope for characters like Clarke’s Qi’ra to show up in other Star Wars projects releasing on the streaming service.