Update: The reports that spurred on this story are now in question thanks to comments from Lucasfilm Exectutive Pablo Hidalgo. On his Twitter page, Hidalgo wrote "I'll let others sort it out, but ask yourself - what question was he answering? #cryptictweets." He followed that up with a response to a fan, saying, "It's Darth Vegas all over again. These guys don't know these names" - "these guys" presumably being a reference to Woody Harrelson and other actors.
The rest of this article exists as it was originally published:
As though the involvement of Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke wasn't enough to excite us, the upcoming Han Solo movie made an amazing move earlier this month, announcing that Woody Harrelson would be joining the ensemble as well. Naturally, there has been plenty of speculation about who he would be playing, but now it seems that we have confirmation that he will be playing Garris Shrike, Han Solo's mentor in the Star Wars extended universe.
Woody Harrelson was in Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, promoting the premiere of his new movie Wilson, and it was while sitting down with Variety that the star fielded a question about his new Star Wars role. The actor was specifically asked if he would be playing Garris Shrike in the untitled Han Solo feature, and while he was at first confused by the question, he eventually did answer in the affirmative. Because Harrelson's comments were so brief, you can read the full transcript of the conversation below:
Woody, we have to ask you a Star Wars question. It's been revealed that you're the Han Solo mentor. Can you confirm that it's Garris Shrike? Or what can you tell us?
Woody Harrelson: Confirm what?
That you're playing the character of Garris?
[Others in the interview talk while Harrelson thinks]
Woody Harrelson: Yeah, I am.
You can watch a video of the interview over on Variety's site, but it's worth mentioning that it abruptly cuts right as Woody Harrelson says, "I am" -- so don't expect any more clarifying details. Assuming that Harrelson wasn't merely confirming his part as a mentor in the blockbuster, it seems we now have it on the record that Harrelson will be playing Garris Shrike opposite Alden Ehrenreich's Han Solo and Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian (the identity of Emilia Clarke's character has not yet been revealed).
Garris Shrike was first introduced in author A. C. Crispin's Han Solo-centric 1997 book The Paradise Snare - a novel that was deemed non-canonical following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. Shrike is the man who both raised and helped turn young Han to a felonious life, as he himself was introduced as a former bounty hunter-turned-criminal. Not to dissimilar to Fagin in Oliver Twist, Shrike had a strategy involving using orphans to rob and steel for him, and Han was one of these kids. They wound up having a very abusive, antagonistic relationship that wound up coming to a very violent end. This could suggest that Woody Harrelson will actually be playing the central villain in the Han Solo movie.
Given his key ties to Han Solo's past, there is a good amount of information out in the world about Garris Shrike... but fans may not want to raise expectations regarding the Han Solo movie's faithfulness to pre-existing material. On beyond the fact that all pre-Disney Star Wars novels no longer count in the continuity, it wouldn't make any sense for directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller to simply adapt stories that die-hards already know. Not only would it hamper big screen surprises, but also the creativity of the filmmakers involved - and the studios didn't hire Lord and Miller just so they could cram them into a box.
How do you feel about the news that Woody Harrelson will be playing Garris Shrike in the Han Solo film? Does it change your expectations for the film? Hit the comments section with your thoughts, and stay tuned for more updates about the project -- which is scheduled to arrive in theaters on May 25, 2018.