Now that Ron Howard has taken the reins of the untitled Star Wars Han Solo movie, we’re free to speculate on why exactly Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired. They’re experienced directors with successful movies on their résumé — including The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, and its sequel — and have plenty of other prospects in Hollywood (including the Flash movie). But their time on the Han Solo set was described by a Variety source as “a culture clash from day one,” and a new Hollywood Reporter dispatch adds that much of the clashing came from Lord and Miller’s directing style, which relied on improv that Star Wars gatekeepers Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy disliked. The report also mentions that Lord and Miller weren’t used to such a large production and were often indecisive as a result, to the chagrin of their department heads. Per THR:
But the source close to Lord and Miller acknowledges they have always worked in an improvisational style and not just to add comedic elements. “They collaborate closely with their actors and give them creative freedom that, in their experience, brings out the actors’ best performances,” this person says. “Lawrence Kasdan would not allow this and demanded that every line was said word for word. To appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes.”
When Kennedy tried to supplant the duo’s directing, as the studio did previously, bringing in veteran Tony Gilroy to help Gareth Edwards with the spinoff Rogue One, Lord and Miller were not as accommodating, according to THR. When the production moved from London to the Canary Islands in May, Lucasfilm wanted an acting coach for star Alden Ehrenreich. Dissatisfied, Kennedy called Kasdan:
Matters were coming to a head in May as the production moved from London to the Canary Islands. Lucasfilm replaced editor Chris Dickens (Macbeth) with Oscar-winner Pietro Scalia, a veteran of Ridley Scott films including Alien: Covenant and The Martian. And, not entirely satisfied with the performance that the directors were eliciting from Rules Don’t Apply star Alden Ehrenreich, Lucasfilm decided to bring in an acting coach. (Hiring a coach is not unusual; hiring one that late in production is.) Lord and Miller suggested writer-director Maggie Kiley, who worked with them on 21 Jump Street. When Kennedy felt that these measures did not get the production on track, she asked Kasdan to come to London.
Ron Howard is said to have exchanged emails with Lord and Miller about the switch.*
*This post initially misstated the date that Howard would take over filming. It has since been corrected.