Ever since the character of Han Solo was first introduced a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (i.e. in 1977, in the first Star Wars movie), the “stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder” has been idolised by film fans around the world. Why is the rathtar-hauling scoundrel so popular?
Following 2015’s The Force Awakens we know how Han’s story ends, but very little about how it started. In other words how he and his co-pilot Chewie ended up as smugglers in the employ of the slug-like alien gangster, Jabba the Hutt. We’ll find out officially this when Solo: A Star Wars Story blasts into ODEON cinemas. While we wait impatiently for the big day (i.e. 24 May) to arrive, let’s meet the men, women, droid and Wookiee joining Han on his space caper…
Lucasfilm has cast Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo. He's trying to fill some pretty big shoes, and acting coaches have schooled him in how to act like a young Harrison Ford.
Han's story kicks off presenting him as an orphan on the streets of Corellia, before being recruited by the Empire. Needless to say, Imperial service won't suit Han Solo at all, and he soon winds up in smuggling circles.
Ehnrenreich on Han: "Harrison [Ford] was awesome as Han, and it was awesome just to meet him and have lunch with him. I met him at his airplane hangar in Santa Monica and we sat with like five planes around us. He basically said, 'Tell them I told you everything you need to know, but that you can't tell anyone anything."
One half of the greatest bromance in cinema history (the other being Han, of course), Chewbacca is an eight-foot-tall Wookiee warrior from the planet Kashyyyk.
Played by Jonas Suotamo, Chewbacca owes Han Solo a life-debt, which means he’s destined to traverse the galaxy by the cocksure smuggler’s side. In Solo: A Star Wars Story we find out why exactly. And, rest assured, it’s gripping viewing!
Suotamo on Chewbacca: “We meet Chewbacca at a difficult period in his life. And he’s in a bit of trouble.”
Like the orphaned Han, Qi’ra (played by Emilia Clarke) hails from the planet Corellia. In fact, she grew up on the streets with our favourite space cowboy.
In the Solo trailer, she claims to be the only one to know what Han really is; how far she can be trusted, though, is up for debate. A suave femme fatale with a “core of steel” and multiple identities, Qi-ra’s priority, just as it was when she was a kid, is staying alive in this cut-throat underworld – but will that be at Han’s expense?
Clarke on Qi-ra: “Qi’ra is an enigma… Every time you think you have got her number you realise you haven’t at all. Which is really hard to play.”
When we first meet Lando in Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, he’s the administrator of Cloud City, a suspended metropolis/mining colony situated on the gas giant Bespin.
He wasn’t always this respectable, though. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lando, who was born on the planet Socorro, is a conman and card shark making him way up the criminal ladder. He’s fond of Sabacc and fancy clothes and is also the proud owner of a gleaming smuggling ship known as the Millennium Falcon – you might have heard of it?
Glover on Lando: “[Lando is] a very particular person with particular tastes and he likes the comforts of life… He likes to know his way in and out of any situation that he’s in.”
Beckett is the leader of a group of thieves, who, having crossed paths with Han in precarious circumstances, offers him a spot in his set-up (he’s in the process of putting together a crew for Paul Bettany’s big-shot gangster Dryden Vos).
Although a criminal by trade, Beckett – who, according to screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan was inspired by Long John Silver in the Robert Louis Stevenson novel Treasure Island – has a heart of gold and becomes something of a father figure to his newest recruit. It’s he who teaches Han to assume everyone will betray him, that way “you will never be disappointed”. Wise words in this galaxy.
Harrelson on Beckett: “He’s a good character. He is a mentor to Han and a criminal, but good at heart.”
Recruited by Ron Howard for the reshoots, Paul Bettany is playing the part of Dryden Vos, who he describes as an "intergalactic gangster."
The part was initially conceived to belargely CGI. But as the trailer has suggested, Enfys Nest is far more prominent as a character and some fans speculate that he may actually be Force-sensitive...
Bettany on Dryden "There were some pretty shady characters that I have met throughout my life, and I used them for inspiration, especially with the sort of physicality of getting really close and physical with people, and sort of dominating them physically in what feels like a friendly way but could go wrong pretty quickly"
Val is Beckett’s partner in crime – and has been for a long time. Like almost everyone who encounters him, she’s skeptical of Han when she first meets him. Can the young flyboy prove himself worthy of her and Beckett’s tight-knit crime family?
It seems Val initially objects to Solo sticking his nose into Beckett's affairs, but co-writer Jon Kasdan has said the relationship between Val and Solo then goes in an "interesting direction." If Beckett becomes a father-figure for Han, most fans are expecting Val to become a surrogate mother.
Newton on Val: “I’m the first woman of colour to have a prominent role in the Star Wars legacy. I’m going to have a toy and everything… It is a big deal.”
This one-of-a-kind feminine droid is Lando Calrissian’s “first mate and confidante”. She’s as funny as C-3PO and – dare we say it? – twice as smart, having largely built herself from the scraps of other (no-longer-in-use) robots.
She helps Lando navigate the Millennium Falcon (until he loses it to Han in a game of Sabacc that is) and also acts as his ‘heavy’ or ‘muscle’. Cue Lando’s memorable line: “L3, let go of the mean man’s face!”
Waller-Bridge on L3-37: “There are some real funny moments, [the film has] an hysterical cast.”