He might not be a Jedi, but it seems that Han Solo has made the women of colour promised for his spin-off movie disappear!
Last October, we brought you the gossip that 3 black actresses were testing as front-runners for the female lead in the 2018 Han Solo Star Wars spin-off movie, now known to be code-named Star Wars: Red Cup. In fact, roles for at least 2 women of colour, at least one a lead, was the word! It prompted speculation that Solo’s apparent first wife, Sana Starros, might feature in the storyline, since we were going back to Solo’s rakish youth. Disney accepted Starros, depicted as a gun-toting black woman, as part of the Star Wars canon after she debuted as an unnamed, masked Mos Eisley patron in the Marvel comic book Star Wars 4: Skywalker Strikes, Part IV (22nd April, 2015), and then as Sana Starros in Star Wars 6: Skywalker Strikes, Part VI, (3rd June, 2015), in which she says they married as a cover for a robbery, but he says they never actually tied the knot.
So, speculation seemed on the money, as Tessa Thompson (Dear White People, Selma, Creed), Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) and Zoë Kravitz (Divergent series, X-Men: First Class, Mad Max: Fury Road, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) were seen in the 2nd round of tests conducted in London, and they were close to a decision. HOWEVER, a month later in November 2016, StarWars.Com announced that Emilia Clarke (Game Of Thrones, Me Before You) was cast, the same time they revealed that the story would follow the adventures of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich – Beautiful Creatures, Hail Caesar!) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotama – Star Wars: The Force Awakens) before the events of Star Wars IV: A New Hope, including their early encounters with the card-playing, perfectly-cast Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover – Atlanta, The Martian, Community).
Come February 2017, Disney/Lucas film revealed that Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag) had been cast as a CGI droid a few days before they announced that Thandie Newton (Westworld, MI: 2, Crash) had also been cast. 11 days later, the official cast, with picture, was revealed, a day after filming began on 2oth February 2017, with the news that Clarke was the female lead, and NO NEWS of any other blacktresses and no-one (except Susana Polo of Polygon.com) noticed! It made so little impact, even we missed it! The Daily Express couldn’t even be bothered to note in, not only an April 2017 article but also a May 2017 article, that the picture featured Glover, not Chiwetel Ejiofor, as stated in their text! Woody Harrelson, they got right. He will play Solo’s Fagin, Garris Shrike; the directors are there, as are Clarke, Waller-Bridge, plus Suotamo as Chewbacca. Michael K. Williams (Hap And Leonard, The Night of, The Wire), still slated to feature, and Newton were not pictured.
Much as we respect Newton, 45, and rejoice in her casting, not even we could justify her playing peer to the young cast whose average age is 30… with Ehrenreich, the youngest at 28, playing Solo in his early 20s! Also, the writers are men – Lawrence (The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One) and son, Jon Kasdan. Kasdan Senior might have lots of experience writing brunettes – Rebel leader Mon Mothma, Princess Leia Organa-Solo, awakened Jedi Rey, doomed Jyn Erso, Untitled Han Solo Female Lead 2018… but we doubt he could write a strong black female character. Yes, we know he wrote The Bodyguard… in 1992. Nuff said, TBH.
So, forgive us for caring less and less about this project as, today, news broke that co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had exited the project after creative differences with producers Kathleen Kennedy and Allison Shearmur. Lucasfilm president Kennedy said: “Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are talented filmmakers who have assembled an incredible cast and crew, but it’s become clear that we had different creative visions on this film, and we’ve decided to part ways. A new director will be announced soon.”
The directors said, “Unfortunately, our vision and process weren’t aligned with our partners on this project. We normally aren’t fans of the phrase ‘creative differences’ but for once this cliché is true. We are really proud of the amazing and world-class work of our cast and crew.”
Variety is tipping Ron Howard (Splash, Cocoon, Apollo 13, Parenthood, Backdraft, The Da Vinci Code) to take over. He may be an Oscar-winning director (A Beautiful Mind), but we’re not sure he can pull off the kind of humour we have come to love and expect from Solo and Chewie, or Solo and Calrissian. Also from the looks of the cast, its not going to be giving us anything new – just more close ups of Clarke’s eyebrows, probably.
To think that back in October, we were worried about the fact that only mixed heritage African-American actresses were being auditioned! Well, they cast everything but the American in Newton, yet her character is still a mystery. Well, I think Joss Whedon, responsible for Serenity‘s Zoe Washburn (Gina Torres/Mrs Fishburne) is taken for the next DC movie, Batgirl… So, all in all, I think TBB will be paying to see Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther (18th February, 2018) for the hundredth time instead. Sigh.