Solo's Phil Lord On His Original Vision For The Star Wars Movie, And Upside To His Departure Alongside Chris Miller

Han Solo and Chewbacca piloting Millennium Falcon
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is an unusual entry in the Star Wars movies lineup. In addition to being the film series’ lowest-grossing entry (making only $393 million worldwide), this 2018 sci-fi adventure also stands out from the other cinematic tales set in a galaxy far, far away by having switched directors in the middle of principal photography. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were originally tapped to direct the Han Solo prequel, and recently Lord recollected on their original vision for the feature, as well as the upside to him and Miller not getting to complete it.

For those who didn’t follow along with Solo: A Star Wars Story’s development, Phil Lord and Chris Miller exited the movie in June 2017, approximately 75% of the way into shooting, due to “creative differences” with Lucasfilm, and Ron Howard was brought aboard to assume directing duties. During their appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, host Josh Horowitz inquired with the duo about their time on the Star Wars movie, and here’s what Lord had to say:

We've always wanted to make projects that are, like Han, a maverick. So that's what we were always trying to do, that's what we were hoping to do with those movies. It was funny, about Star Wars [A New Hope] is it's an independent film made outside the Hollywood system. And Han is the spirit of that kind of independence, and that's why we were always inspired to work on that with everybody.

It boiled down to Phil Lord and Chris Miller wanting to bring a different sensibility to making Solo: A Star Wars Story, and they’d already impressed in Hollywood with the Jump Street movies and The LEGO Movie, among other projects. Plus, because Solo was a standalone Star Wars movie rather than directly connected to the main Skywalker Saga, they probably felt that they’d be allowed more freedom with depicting Han Solo’s origin story.

Unfortunately for Phil Lord and Chris Miller, their approach for Solo: A Star Wars Story differed too much from what Lucasfilm wanted for the movie, and as Phil Lord put it back in late 2017, this was “too big” of a bridge to gap. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy echoed this sentiment shortly before Solo was released, saying how the divide came down to differing work styles. As a silver lining though, the duo walked away from their Star Wars experience with knowledge and lessons they’ve applied to other projects since then. In Lord’s words:

The good news is they can't take away what you learned. We learned so much. We got to work with the greatest people, we made so many friends. We put what in animation we call 'pencil miles' under our belts and it made us better filmmakers in the long run. So, in a funny way, there's obviously a lot of negative emotions associated with that, but the way I feel about it now, like I feel about all these projects, which is you're just trying to become better and learn and collaborate with people and that doesn't go away.

Phil Lord and Chris Miller ultimately accepted being credited as executive producers on the final version of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ron Howard also acknowledged that while he ended up taking “some of the sequences in different directions and experimented with them,” Lord and Miller’s “fingerprints” were still all over the movie alongside his own distinct stamps. One of the big ways Solo changed under Howard’s watchful eye was Paul Bettany being recast as Dryden Vox when Michael K. Williams couldn’t return for the reshoots, which also resulted in the character being changed from a “half mountain lion, half human”-looking alien to a near-human life form. Howard also reshot the reunion between Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra.

Although Solo: A Star Wars Story never got a sequel (despite many fans wanting Solo 2 to happen), Qi’ra has recently resurfaced in the Star Wars comics. We’ll be sure to share if any other major elements from Solo are followed up on in other Star Wars projects. Phil Lord and Chris Miller's next movie, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One) (which they produced and co-wrote with David Callaham) opens in theaters on October 7.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.