Ron Howard will be the first to admit it wasn’t the smoothest way to come on board his first Star Wars movie. The Oscar-winning director behind films like Splash, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind replaced co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller more than halfway through the production of the new spin-off prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story, a stunning turn of events for such a high-profile property.
“It was unfortunate, you don’t want any movie to go through that,” Howard told Yahoo Entertainment at the Los Angeles press junket for Solo (watch above). “You don’t want filmmakers to go through that. But it was a classic case of ‘creative differences.'”
Reports have indicated that Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the screenwriter, Lawrence Kasdan, were unhappy with the heavily comedic tone brought to the film by Lord and Miller, writer-directors best known for the action-comedy 21 Jump Street (2012) and its sequel 22 Jump Street (2014), as well as the humor-heavy animated films Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and The Lego Movie (2014).
Howard’s Solo still draws plenty of laughs, and fans familiar with Lord and Miller’s irreverent jokes will no doubt be able to recognize (or at least theorize on) their influence on specific gags.
“I inherited a lot of great stuff from Lord and Miller,” the director said. “Their fingerprints are all over it. There are scenes that they cooked up and executed that were great, that I was thrilled to have and to build on.”
For Howard, though, his excitement for the project predated the attachment of any director(s).
“The really unique thing that became my anchor, was that, before there was any director on board, there was this story, and this script,” he said, noting that his co-writer Kasdan, of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, had long ago conceived the idea of a Han Solo origin story, then recruited his son, Jon Kasdan, to write it with him.
“Together, they had a point of view about young Han Solo that I thought was really, both satisfying as a fan, but also surprising enough that it could be a great, great adventure story — that would be a defining adventure story for Han Solo. That’s what I focused on, and I just wanted to deliver on the promise of that notion.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens Friday.