Meet the new Han Solo: Alden Ehrenreich.
The currently untitled movie, due May 25, 2018, will focus on Han Solo’s early years and will be directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie). This will be the first time that the role hasn’t been played by Harrison Ford, who originated the character in the original 1977 Star Wars film.
We’ve put together five things you need to know about this rising star:
1. He Wasn’t Allowed to Be a Child Actor
Ehrenreich’s passion for movies most likely comes from his parents, who, according to The New York Times, are movie buffs. In 2009, he told Flavorwire, “My mother always cultivated my imagination from the time I was very little.”
However, it would be some time before he would be allowed to pursue acting. “My mom wouldn’t let me do child acting,” he told New York in 2009. In the meantime, he started making home movies with his friends.
2. Steven Spielberg Discovered Him at a Bat Mitzvah
It just so happens that one of those home videos landed actually helped him break into the industry. When he was 14, he and friends screened a movie for a friend’s Bat Mitzvah that featured him cross-dressing and eating dirt.
“It’s a video that this girl asked us to do,” he told Rolling Stone. “I mean, there wasn’t a script. We would go and just film whatever made us laugh.”
Steven Spielberg happened to be at the party, liked what he saw and arranged for Ehrenreich, then 14, to meet with a casting director at Dreamworks. That meeting led to him getting an agent.
“That was the only reason I started acting professionally at that age,” he told Flavorwire.
3. His First Big Break Was in a Movie Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
After meeting with Spielberg, Ehrenreich spent five years auditioning and booking guest parts on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Supernatural. His first movie role came in 2009’s Tetro, which was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
“If I tried to somehow wrap my head around the fact that Francis Ford Coppola directed my first movie, there’s never a slot into which that ever fits in your mind,” he recently said to Rolling Stone.
Speaking to New York, he said the audition process was “the craziest.” It included screen tests at Coppola’s Napa vineyard and Argentina, where he also had to improvise at cafés and direct a group of Argentine actors.
4. He Co-Founded a Theater Company in New York
While he attended New York University from 2009 to 2011 (but didn t graduate), he and Zoe Worth co-founded The Collectin, an artist collective that had about 30 members. The Collectin met once week for workshops with actors, directors and writers, and also created six original plays and five short films while in New York, according to the group’s website.
“It’s always been very important for me to be surrounded by people,” Ehrenreich told Interview in 2010. “It’s never been enough for me to be successful alone. I want to be around people my own age who are also doing things I can learn from.”
5. He Had to Fight for His Role in Hail, Caesar
This year, he received many accolades for his role in the Old Hollywood-set film Hail, Casear, directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, and starring Josh Brolin and George Clooney. However, he almost didn’t get the part.
“I don’t think the Coen brothers had any idea who I was,” he told Rolling Stone. “My agent sent me the script, and I read it and just loved it. I asked if I could audition, and we were told that I really wasn’t right for the part.”
He persisted until they finally asked him to make a tape and to come in for audition. “When I read for them, they laughed the whole time. That seemed like good news,” he said.