When it was confirmed earlier this month that Woody Harrelson would be playing young Han Solo’s mentor in the stand-alone Star Wars movie, fans immediately began speculating about the nature of Harrelson’s part. Though the former Expanded Universe is no longer cannon — it became “Legends” after Disney bought Star Wars — some hoped that the novelizations of the smuggler’s life before he joined the rebellion and fell in love with a princess would be nodded to, including Harrelson’s role. During a filmed interview with Variety, the Hunger Games actor was asked point blank if he will be playing one of these characters, Garris Shrike. He seems hesitant to answer, before saying, “Yeah, I am.”
For those of you who didn’t read the book where Shrike was introduced, The Paradise Snare (keep up, nerds), Shrike picks up Han Solo when he’s a young orphan and teaches him how to be a con man, like an outer-space Fagin.
Lucasfilm’s Pablo Hidalgo seemed to discredit the admission with a tweet after the story broke. He wrote, “I’ll let others sort it out, but ask yourself — what question was he answering?” Considering the interviewer repeated the name twice, and it seemed as though Harrelson was weighing what he was allowed to say, it seems likely that he was confirming his character’s name, however /film suggests that there is a chance he was just restating that he would be playing a mentor. Also, since Garris Shrike is no longer part of cannon, Shrike could easily be morphed into another man of the same or a similar name who bears little resemblance to the cold-hearted grifter of previous stories.