Almost immediately after Lucasfilm announced that The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller would be directing a stand-alone film about young Han Solo, the discussion instantly moved to the most pressing question: Who could possibly play him? As embodied by Harrison Ford, Solo is a perfect mix of masculine stoicism and roguish charm — it’s hard to think of any actors working today who could pull that off.
This points to a problem we’ve been pinpointing since 2011: For a variety of reasons — the lack of classical training, the fact that older men still nab plum roles — Hollywood is suffering from a dearth of young male stars. There are plenty of 20-something guys filling our blockbuster screens, but who among them is rugged enough to fill Han’s boots? Mos Eisley would eat most of these dudes alive.
Imagine Lord and Miller making an action comedy about the adventures of young Princess Leia. You have to bet they’d call Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Emma Watson, and Anna Kendrick, with a whole legion of funny young actresses coming up behind them. Now let’s run down the obvious choices on the guys’ side. Chris Pratt is the clear heir to Harrison Ford, but at 36 he’s already older than Ford was in the original Star Wars, as are Channing Tatum and Jake Johnson. Miles Teller is too intense; Andrew Garfield too slight; Zac Efron too pretty. Shia LaBeouf blew his chance already. Oscar Isaac is already in Force Awakens. After that you’re either picking in the B-list blockbuster filler pile — your Jai Courtneys, your Garrett Hedlunds — or among the morass of early 20s pretty boys like Ansel Elgort. (Or worse.) Neither of those options seems like a Lord and Miller pick.
So, who is? There’s a chance they’ll go with Dylan O’Brien (the Maze Runner guy), who starred in their screenwriter Jon Kasdan’s The First Time. Taron Egerton (the Kingsman guy) is rumored to be on the short list, and he comes with the advantage of already having a very Star Wars name. But if it’s not one of those two, we’d bet they go with an unknown. That’s generally been the Star Wars way, from John Boyega and Daisy Ridley all the way back to Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. (The ghost of Hayden Christensen shall not be named.) Heck, if Lord and Miller truly want to honor the legacy of Harrison Ford, they should cast a part-time stand-in whose main job is carpentry. Let lightning strike twice!