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We Might Get to See Han Solo’s Imperial Academy Arc

Scoundrel? Scoundrel…I like the sound of that.
By  · Published on January 4th, 2017

Scoundrel? Scoundrel…I like the sound of that.

According to an exclusive from Variety, Woody Harrelson is in talks to play young Han Solo’s mentor in the upcoming Star Wars spin-off.

While nothing is certain, Harrelson is reportedly the top choice for the part. If cast, Harrelson will join Hail, Caesar! standout Alden Ehrenreich, who snagged the part of Solo last May; Donald Glover (Atlanta), who will appear as the untrustworthy smuggler/cape trendsetter Lando Calrissian; and Game of ThronesEmilia Clarke, in an unspecified role.

At the helm are the formidably funny Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose credits include The LEGO Movie and 22 Jump Street. Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan, and his son Jon have provided the screenplay, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, and Allison Sheamur, who worked with Harrelson previously on The Hunger Games, are co-producing. Kennedy has commented that the film “moves closer to a heist or Western type feel,” and that they’re hoping to draw from Frederic Remington aesthetically.

Space cowboy Han Solo, pre-mentoring.
Variety reports that studio executives were looking to offset their ensemble of rising stars with an actor of “considerable clout.” THR’s Borys Kit disclosed that before Harrelson, Christian Bale was the other “big name in the mix.”

While, to be clear, Harrelson has not officially been cast – boy do I hope he is down the line. For me, Woody Harrelson is like parmesan: he elevates everything he touches. And I can totally see his charm, wit, and goofy grin inhabiting the Star Wars universe. Put that man in space and give him a young, empire-dismantling ruffian to mold!

And though I am (very) excited about Harrelson’s potential casting, the existence of the role in and of itself is just as interesting. In typical Star Wars fashion, we know nothing official about this mentor character. The film being a prequel to A New Hope might narrow the scope of the mystery a little bit. We can only imagine what questionable guidance Han received in his youth to become the Greedo-shooting, self-serving smuggler Luke and Obi Wan meet in Mos Eisley. And as Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson points out: if anyone can give bad life advice with a smile, it’s Woody Harrelson.

But until confirmed details about the character surface – it’s always fun to strap on a tinfoil hat and speculate beyond the canon. *Hyperdrive noises*

There is a character named Alexsandr Badure (aka Trooper) who might fit the bill. Badure is from The Han Solo Adventures trilogy, and meets the young Han while he’s serving with the Imperial Academy. There, Badure teaches him how to hone his flying skills and generally takes him under his (X)wing. Also, he nicknames Han “Slick,” which is, like, appropriate.

A Rancor-sized reason I’m suspicious that this mentor character is Badure is that, as outlined in The Han Solo Trilogy, a super formative moment happens during Han’s time at the Academy, and by extension, his time with Badure. Unsurprisingly, Han’s stint with the Imperial service is short lived, and he is court-martialed, and dishonorably discharged. Why? Because he saves an enslaved Wookiee named Chewbacca, that’s why! Shenanigans ensue and eventually Han returns to his pre-Academy smuggling ways, with a furry new friend by his side.

There is not only the possibility, but a precedent for tapping into the EU. When Disney unhinged the Expanded Universe from the core canon in 2014, the official statement clarified that creators of new Star Wars materials would “have full access to the rich content of the Expanded Universe” – they just didn’t have to follow it, is all. The statement notes that the animated series Star Wars Rebels – the first new canon addition to appear on-screen – includes EU elements: borrowing from the roleplaying game material published in the 1980s, and even legitimizing full blown novelized characters like Grand Admiral Thrawn through major story arcs.

All to say, while 100% flagrant speculation, I think Badure is on the table. And I’m here for it…and hopefully so is Woody. Though I won’t deny a small part of me is holding out for that Ernest Hemingway-inspired trader character from Empire’s first draft.

Untitled Han Solo Star Wars Anthology Film” is expected to begin production sometime this month, with principal photography kicking off in February. The release date is set for 2018 (Probably May, possibly December).

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Based in the Pacific North West, Meg enjoys long scrambles on cliff faces and cozying up with a good piece of 1960s eurotrash. As a senior contributor at FSR, Meg's objective is to spread the good word about the best of sleaze, genre, and practical effects.