Han Solo is one of the greatest supporting characters in cinematic history, and for many, the persona of Harrison Ford has become synonymous with that character (surely, much to his chagrin). To see someone else take over the role is going to be weird without question, but finding a replacement is also not inconceivable. Icons supersede their portrayers, and one day many will look back on Ford as the original in a series of numerous Han Solo portrayers. Ever since Disney and Lucasfilm announced their plans to move forward with a young Han Solo film, questions have been raised on whether or not this is actually a good idea or a worthwhile creative endeavor, despite what will surely be an enormous box office haul. Most of these questions have been a result of casting anxiety, anxiety that has even led some to suggest getting Ford to reprise the role and digitally de-age him, a potentially treacherous uncanny valley that surely neither Ford nor fans would buy into. Thankfully, with Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the fan-favorite directors behind 21 and 22 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, at the film’s helm, that apprehension can be eased somewhat. But with Variety’s unveiling of the directors’ and execs’ shortlist of actors up for the role and the rumor that the lucky young man will cameo in Rogue One, some are already fearing whose hands will pilot the Millennium Falcon. So with a look towards these young actors’ previous roles, an understanding that Harrison Ford can’t be copied, and a dose of well-measured optimism, AE is here to grade this class of young men, each ready and willing to start their Solo career. Then you tell us which is the best candidate in the poll below.
The Goods: The 25-year-old American actor is still relatively unknown, though he had a major supporting role in last year’s Brooklyn as Ellis’s charming Italian-American suitor, and he gave a memorable turn in 2012’s The Place Beyond the Pines. There’s a hint of roguishness in his facial features that give him the slightest resemblance to a young Ford. He’s shown an ability to handle dark material and lighter fare which could carry him far in the Star Wars Universe. Because Cohen has yet to become a recognizable star, he could enter the role largely unscathed by public opinion and expectations. Though with six films set to feature him 2016, that could soon change. Still, the fact that none of those are franchise movies makes him a safe bet for both availability and a lack of vocal detractors.
The Grade: B+
The Goods: The 29-year-old son of famed actor and director Clint Eastwood definitely has the movie star looks and the bad boy charm we associate with Han Solo. He also has yet to break out as a major star in his own right, despite a lead role in last year’s Nicholas Sparks movie that everyone has already forgotten about. But with major roles in this year’s Suicide Squad and Snowden that’s bound to change. Eastwood was made to be a movie star and there’s perhaps no better way to step out of his father’s unmistakable shadow than by playing a role made famous by one of Clint’s contemporaries. But there’s one problem: Scott Eastwood looks so much like his father that it’d be impossible to buy him as a young Harrison Ford. There’s no necessity for the actor cast in the role to resemble Ford, but model Eastwood might be a bit too chiseled and super-heroic looking to convincingly play the goofy, rogue act.
The Grade: C-
The Goods: The 21-year-old star of numerous teen movies is already quite well known in certain Hollywood circles. Whether it’s from Carrie, the Divergent films, or The Fault in Our Stars, you’ve all likely seen Elgort in something over the last few years. He’s solid, particularly in 2013’s Carrie remake, but he’s never displayed the kind of charisma that we see in Han Solo. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess it, but he’s a still novice actor who needs a lot more versatility in his role selection before we can determine what kind of actor he really is. There’s little doubt he could pull off the character’s goofy charm, but there’s something so nice guy about him that believing he’s one of the most notorious and dangerous men in the galaxy is questionable. While I wouldn’t count him out, Elgort is a longshot.
The Grade: D
The Goods: The 30-year-old brother of James Franco has been a very recognizable face in the comedy film world for nearly a decade. He’s a funny guy who can easily switch between coming off as likeable or a genuine asshole, which is great for Han Solo. Dave also looks different enough from the more famous James so as not to be distracting. He’s worked with Lord and Miller on three different occasions so a connection between the three has already been established. Also, out of all the actors under consideration, he’s the closest in age to Ford when he starred as Han Solo. Though considering Franco is still playing high-schoolers and undergrads, that age factor likely makes little difference. If there’s a drawback, it’s that his voice and speech-patterns are very recognizable and just as a reality, are quite different from how many fans would want Han Solo to be portrayed. Franco could work well, but he may just be too recognizable and distinct to not be distracting. Despite the fan backlash that would likely result over his casting, he’s worth rooting for.
The Grade: B-
The Goods: The 23-year-old actor starred on Glee, but before everyone skips ahead to the next entry, he’s also the lead in Richard Linklater’s upcoming Everybody Wants Some. He’ll also being appearing alongside his wife, Mellissa Benoist, on Supergirl later this month. Jenner is still kind of a blank slate, so much so that it’s really difficult to tell whether he’d be right for Solo or not. He’s got the look down, but it won’t really be clear what his capabilities are until after his turn with Linklater. The good news is that he’s got experience with improv and is a fan of that style of acting, which could make for some very interesting decisions if he does indeed land the role of Solo. He’s one to watch but not worth betting all your chips on yet.
The Grade: C
The Goods: 23-year-old Lerman has made a huge impact in his short career so far. While he didn’t exactly break out with the two Percy Jackson films, he impressed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah, and Fury and became a fan favorite to play Spider-Man until casting went in another direction. Lerman has proven to be a serious young talent with what will surely be an impressive career ahead of him, but he carries a level of innocence and naivety in each of his performances that simply doesn’t gel with the characterization of Han Solo. He’s still too baby-faced to provide the kind of worldly swagger that even a young Han Solo needs to have. Lerman deserves to be in a Star Wars movie, just not this role.
The Grade: D+
The Goods: The 23-year-old actor seemed primed to be Hollywood’s next proposed star when he was cast in Transformers: Age of Extinction. But besides a few British productions, Reynor hasn’t been too visible after his turn in Michael Bay’s film. Through no fault of his own, he didn’t exactly become the breakout character of that film (no one did). He’s starring as Brother Wolf in Andy Serkis’ adaptation The Jungle Book and may return for Transformers 5, but he’s largely unencumbered by any major roles right now. But it’s difficult to know if he’d be a good fit for Han Solo, and it’s unfair to judge him solely by Transformers, though there is nothing about what we’ve seen from him so far that screams Han Solo. He could be fine, but there are better choices for the role.
The Grade: C-
The Goods: We all know Miles Teller can act. The 28-year-old has convincingly been both the humor and heart of the films he’s appeared in, and even in a minor capacity he’s made quite an impact. Teller can pull off charisma with just a little bit of leeway, and manages to be magnetic and compelling in even the worst films he’s appeared in. He’s got the fast-talking approach down, and it’s easy to imagine him weaseling his way out of a deal gone bad. But he does come with expectations and baggage, a recognition that he will carry with him into the role. He also looks nothing like Harrison Ford, but interestingly enough, it’s easy to see him as Adam Driver’s father. While a more unknown actor would be a better choice, we could do a lot worse than Teller.
The Grade: B
Featured Image: 20th Century Fox