It was reported earlier this month that Woody Harrelson was in talks to play the mentor to Alden Ehrenreich's title character in Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. That news has now been confirmed, with StarWars.com announcing that the Hunger Games star has officially signed on for this next Star Wars anthology movie. Disney and Lucasfilm have not yet titled the movie, which they also call Young Han Solo. Here is the official PR.
Veteran film and television actor Woody Harrelson is stepping aboard the upcoming Han Solo movie set to arrive in theaters next year.
Harrelson, known for wide-ranging roles in film and TV such as The Hunger Games, No County For Old Men, True Detective, Cheers, and Zombieland, will join actors Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), and Emilia Clarke in the adventure. This Star Wars Story is the second in a series of films that live outside the Skywalker family saga, and is set during the early scoundrel days of the iconic characters, prior to A New Hope. said the film's directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
"We couldn't be more excited to work with an artist with as much depth and range as Woody. His ability to find both humor and pathos, often in the same role, is truly unique. He is also very good at ping pong."
In this official PR, no character is revealed for Woody Harrelson. The initial report of his casting claimed he'd play Han Solo's mentor, who wasn't given a name at the time. Many speculate that Harrelson is playing a character already established in the Star Wars Legend canon. Which is not part of the official cinematic canon that includes the first seven feature films, the spin-off Rogue One and the animated series Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels.
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It is believed that Harrelson is either playing Garris Shrike, or a character closely based on this space pirate. Garris is credited for teaching Han Solo how to fly and shoot like a scoundrel. Just as Kylo Ren (aka Ben Organa) is constructed from the cloth that made up Han and Leia's son Jacen Solo from the Legends books, so might Han Solo's new mentor.
Han Solo may be taking a cue from Oliver Twist, with Han Solo being raised as an orphan by this Garris Shrike-inspired individual. In the older books, Han Solo helped make up a band of merry orphans who robbed people. Garris was like the family's sci-fi version of Fagan to Solo's Artful Dodger.
Shrike first appeared in the A.C. Crispin Star Wars novel The Paradise Snare, where Garris serves as Han Solo's entry point into a world of crime. Therein lies a ready made plot for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and their screenwriters Jake and Jon Kasdan to curb from. Han Solo is said to take place roughly ten years before A New Hope. Which makes since for The Paradise Snare. In the book, Shrike catches up with Han Solo nearly a decade after they last saw each other. Shrike has come to collect the bounty on his old pupil, but things don't turn out well for the old man. He is most certainly no Obi-Wan Kenobi.
The as-yet-untitled movie, which is being produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, and Simon Emanuel, is scheduled for release in 2018.