Earlier this month, Woody Harrelson signed on to star in Disney and LucasFilm's new spin-off Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. While his character was never confirmed by the studio, rumors swirled almost immediately that he is playing a character named Garris Shrike, who serves as a mentor to Alden Ehrenreich's title character. During an interview at the Sundance Film Festival, Woody Harrelson confirmed that he is in fact playing Garris Shrike, a very important character in the Star Wars canon.
Garris Shrike first appeared in the A.C. Crispin novel The Paradise Snare, where Garris teaches Han Solo how to fly and serves as his entry into a world of smuggling and other crimes. The story is said to take place approximately 10 years before A New Hope, giving fans an origin story for Han Solo. It's worth noting that in the novel The Paradise Snare, Shrike catches up with Han Solo 10 years after they first met, when he comes to collect a bounty on Han Solo. No story details have been confirmed, so it isn't ultimately clear if this spin-off will be loosely based on that novel. Woody Harrelson confirmed his character during an interview with Variety. Asked point blank if he was playing Garris, Woody said, 'Yeah, I am.'
Just a day after news of his casting was announced, Woody Harrelson revealed in an interview that he's playing a "criminal" and a mentor to Han Solo. He joins a cast that includes Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Emilia Clarke, who is rumored to be playing a female wookie, although her character has yet to be confirmed. Phil Lord and Chris Miller are directing from a script by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan, based on characters created by George Lucas. Production is scheduled to begin in February.
While we'll likely have to wait a bit for a full confirmed cast list, another rumor surfaced last month that Donnie Yen's character Chirrut Imwe, from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, may appear in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. Since no plot details have been confirmed at this time, it remains unclear if Chirrut Imwe, or other characters from Rogue One, will be featured in this story. Both Rogue One and the Han Solo movie are set between A New Hope and Revenge of the Sith, so it's possible there may be some crossover between both movies, but that has yet to be confirmed.
LucasFilm has already set a May 25, 2018 release date, which is exactly 41 years after A New Hope hit theaters back in 1977. There has been a rumor, though, that LucasFilm may be pushing this Star Wars spin-off to December 2018, which would fall in line with the first three releases in this new wave of Star Wars movies. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters on December 18, 2015, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story arriving on December 16, 2016 and Star Wars: Episode VIII debuting on December 15, 2017. Still, LucasFilm and Disney have yet to confirm the release date shift, and the studio has not announced an official release date for Star Wars IX as well, although it is believed to arrive at some point in 2019.