Do you have a good or bad feeling about the upcoming Solo: a Star Wars Story? Because I just watched the 2013 movie Beautiful Creatures and now I have a real bad feeling about Solo: a Star Wars Story. Alden Ehrenreich stars in both and I actually think, despite the terrible script and everything else about Beautiful Creatures, that he comes across as quite a good actor and charming. But not nearly charming enough.
Now, in Alden’s defense, Harrison Ford is probably the most charming man on the planet. His charisma has made some of the greatest characters on film; Indiana Jones, Rick Deckard, and, of course, Han Solo. Now, Mr. Ford had the benefit of these moves being amazing in their own right, so I’m not holding that against Alden, nor am I even holding the fact that NOONE has the charm of Harrison Ford… but, if you’re gonna do a young Han Solo movie, you need to have someone who has the POTENTIAL to have that charm. And after watching Beautiful Creatures… I’m not so sure that’s Alden Ehrenreich. Is he charming? Yes. Is he charming enough to play the rogue smuggler Han Solo… I’m not seeing it.
Let’s set a baseline here. In Star Wars, my favorite character defining moment of all time, occurs near Han’s introduction. Greedo has cornered him in the cantina and Harrison Ford does something that simply blew my socks off. No, it wasn’t shooting first (or not shooting first, if you are one of those people). No, it was simply picking at the wall. Han Solo is faced with death or worse and his attention moves to a crack in the wall that he scratches with his finger-nail. Now, in the scene, this simple act does a number of things; it draws attention away from him freeing his blaster with his other hand, it shows Greedo that he is seemingly not worried about the situation at hand, and it’s just a cool and calm thing to do under pressure. But above all else, I am riveted to my seat watching an actor pick at a piece of scenery and I CANNOT look away. That’s charm. That’s charisma. That’s something that 1 in a million people on this planet can pull off.
In Beautiful Creatures Alden Ehrenreich does many things, some casually and some with great intensity, but NONE of them hold my attention the way Ford did just by fingering a crack.
Solo: a Star Wars Story is a prequel and a possible origin story for Han Solo. So, maybe the character didn’t start out with all the charm of Zeus. Maybe he earns it or learns it… or something. But can that level of Charisma be earned outside of rolling a 20 sided dice?
Let’s do some math. It’s been hinted that Solo: a Star Wars Story takes place at least 10 years before Star Wars: A New Hope. Harrison Ford was about 34 when he strapped on a DL-44 heavy blaster pistol for principal photography in 1976. Alden Ehrenreich is 28 now, and was 26/27 when he sat in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.
In 1966 Harrison ford was 24 and playing a one-episode character in western TV show called The Virginian. The character was Cullen Tindall, a crook with a heart of gold, just doing what he can to get by, vaguely familiar to a certain space smuggler. In one scene, he smiles at a napkin ring, something this character has never seen, a sign of wealth to him. He’s also eating a sandwich, holding a gun at two people at the same time… but when he smiles at that napkin ring… that otherworldly charm is still clear as day.
Ok, I have also seen Hail, Caesar, and again- I think Alden Ehrenreich is a solid actor with chops and charm… but he’s not a fraction of Harrison Ford. It’s possible with trailing, growth, and experience he can pull this off and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt going into the movie. But, deep down… I just watched 2013’s Beautiful Creatures and now I’m seriously worried about Solo: a Star Wars Story.