Solo, a Star Wars prequel about the early days of Han Solo—played in the original films by Harrison Ford—is currently filling up multiplexes. Here are some things you might not have known about the galaxy’s most charismatic space smuggler.
The space pirate ship
In early drafts of the movie that became Star Wars: A New Hope, Han didn’t pilot the Millennium Falcon. He ran a space pirate ship.
The fish man
Also in early drafts of the script, Han Solo was a green, gill-covered fish man, not unlike the sensitive sea monster in The Shape of Water.
Who inspired the character?
Han Solo is so charming, so effortlessly self-assured that he must be a complete work of fiction, right? Not so—Star Wars creator George Lucas has said he based the character off fellow director Francis Ford Coppola after watching him command a movie set.
Who else auditioned?
It’s the role of Harrison Ford’s lifetime, but he almost didn’t get the part. Christopher Walker, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, and Robert Englund (the future Freddy Kruger) all came close. Billy Dee Williams also auditioned, but he was cast as Solo’s compatriot Lando Calrissian instead.
A comic book link
A decade ago, Dark Horse Comics published a series called Into the Unknown. The plot: Han Solo and Chewbacca crash their spaceship in the Pacific Northwest region of Earth, where he’s captured and killed by an indigenous group of villains. (Chewie escapes.) A century later, an archaeologist in search of Bigfoot (which turns out to be Chewbacca) discovers Solo’s remains. The archaeologist: Indiana Jones, who, like Han Solo, was portrayed on-screen by Harrison Ford.
Not killed by Ewoks
Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Han Solo dies in the 2015 blockbuster, killed by his own son, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). It was wish fulfillment—actor Harrison Ford unsuccessfully persuaded George Lucas to have those adorable, militaristic Ewoks kill him in 1983’s Return of the Jedi.
Released and thawed
Clearly, Harrison Ford was a little bit grumpy about playing Han Solo. So much so that filmmakers wouldn’t sure he’d return for the third Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi. That’s why he was “frozen in carbonite.” If Ford came back, Han would get released and thawed. If not, he’d remain in suspended animation.