When Lucasfilm fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller from Solo: A Star Wars Story, it came at a very bad time. The Star Wars spin-off was just about to be completed before the directors were given the axe due to creative reasons. Ron Howard would then step in as their replacement. But that even came with its own complications. While the “creative differences” excuse has been thrown around in situations like these, it appears there is some truth to it.
More on what lead up to Lord and Miller’s firing, how Howard did not want the gig at first, and what George Lucas did to help Howard. Check it all out here below.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy spoke to EW about the entire ordeal. During the interview, she spoke about the kind of production the two had. And while that has lead to their success for projects like the Jump Street films and The LEGO Movie, their improvisational filmmaking style is something that reportedly did not work well on a set like Solo: A Star Wars Story. That’s not to say they completely discouraged improvisation, but apparently, there was so much of it that it was slowing down the entire production. Here’s what she had to say,
“I think these guys are hilarious, but they come from a background of animation and sketch comedy and when you are making these movies you can do that and there’s plenty of room for improvisation, we do that all the time, but it has to be inside of a highly structured process or you can’t get the work done and you can’t move the armies of people to anticipate and have things ready. So, it literally came down to process. Just getting it done.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that we heard about Lord and Miller’s creative choices clashing with Lucasfilm. Last year, there were reports of a troubled set, with the directors making some unconventional choices like using three cameras as opposed to the traditional 13 to 15. This move gave everyone involved very little options in terms of angles and scenes. While it isn’t confirmed, this reportedly did slow the entire production down.
However, it looks like Lord and Miller aren’t bitter about their experience making the film. In fact, Lord compared it to a breakup. “Sometimes people break up, and it’s really sad, and it’s really disappointing, but it happens and we learned a lot from our collaborators and we’re better filmmakers for it,” Lord told EW.
Miller joked, “We’re super well-adjusted, obviously we’re doing great. We’re super drunk right now. As Phil said, we had such a great relationship with cast and crew, we were really rooting for them.”
So yes, a lot of it did come down to creative differences.
Unfortunately, this means that we will never get to see what Lord and Miller were trying to accomplish. However, they completed a good majority of the film where it would be too hard to not use anything they shot, something of which Howard, who was Lord and Miller’s replacement, was very reluctant to do, at first.
“I know Chris and Phil. They’re incredibly talented guys, and all anyone at Imagine Entertainment wants to do is find a way to work with Chris and Phil, and that’s every bit as much the case today as ever,” he says. “But when I learned that this change was happening, it just came in a moment where I was working on lots of new projects for Imagine, and I had not planned to direct anything last year. So then this came my way, and I was talking to Kathy, and the now tragically late Alli Shearmur, an old friend. I was reluctant, but I also began to feel that I could help.”
Howard also recognizes the controversy behind the situation. But it’s not clear how much of Lord and Miller’s version of the film we will see and how much of Howard’s film we will see. There are contradictory reports that say Howard came in when 90% of the film was finished, while others say a lot of Solo was reshot.
“It’s rough on everybody and disappointing for everybody, and I’ve just tried to come in and — of course, Phil and Chris’s fingerprints are all over the movie, given how much they put into it and the time they put into it. I hope fans won’t even think about how the movie was made. They should just lose themselves in it.”
“I don’t really want to explain it. I don’t really want to be specific about that because, again, I don’t even want that to matter to fans. I could understand why you’d ask, and some might even be curious, but look, everybody who has been involved in this has done nothing but love what this movie could be, and that’s been the vibe around it. I think audiences are gonna feel that love and excitement.”
One could imagine how hard it is to make a film that is your own when a majority of it was finished by someone else. However, Howard did get some guidance from George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars.
In a different interview with EW, Howard recalled first hearing about the original Star Wars while Lucas was shooting American Graffiti. At the time the film was considered to be ambitious and would combine hokey religions, ancient weapons, and heroes with blasters at their sides, with state-of-the-art visuals.
That film, which we would come to know as Star Wars and eventually Star Wars: A New Hope, was continuing to develop at the time, so Howard could not have foreseen what it would have become. Flash-forward to the present, and know he is directing one of the very films that Lucas has built.
Of course, given that they have worked together in the past, Howard got some helpful advice from his American Graffiti director.
“He told me just trust my instincts, you know?” Howard says with a laugh. “I know he kind of fundamentally feels like, first and foremost, [these films are] sort of for 12-year-old boys, and yet even he knows that it’s grown so far beyond that, and the fans have grown with the series in a great, important way. So he didn’t offer a lot of advice except, ‘You’ll get this.’”
However, what first started out as a brief set visit turned out to be a more hands-on process.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters in theaters on May 25, 2017.
[Source: Howard (EW) | Lucas (EW)]