May the Ford be with you, young one

By Stephanie Merry

Rising actor gets big break taking over as Han Solo in spin-off.
Alden Ehrenreich, left, as rising star Hobie Doyle in  Hail, Caesar! .
Alden Ehrenreich, left, as rising star Hobie Doyle in Hail, Caesar! .

Since Disney announced its forthcoming Han Solo-centric Star Wars spin-off, directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, chatter has grown about which young actor could possibly take over for Harrison Ford. Miles Teller, Emory Cohen and Ansel Elgort were all in the running, and the short-list included rising stars Jack Reynor (Transformers: Age of Extinction) and Taron Egerton (The Kingsman).

Well, the actor to play Chewie's best bud has finally been announced, and it's Alden Ehrenreich.

If you're asking who that is, you haven't been paying enough attention to our predictions for 2016's next-big-thing actors. Here's what you need to know about Ehrenreich.

He's got some big fans in big-name directors

The first to take notice of Ehrenreich's talent was Steven Spielberg, who discovered him during a home movie that played at a Bar Mitzvah. Then Francis Ford Coppola took the actor under his wing.

Between 2009 and 2011, Ehrenreich starred in two of Coppola's movies, Twixt and Tetro, plus Somewhere, written and directed by Sofia Coppola.

Since then, Ehrenreich has worked with Korean auteur Park Chan-wook (Stoker), Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine) and Warren Beatty (an untitled movie that may eventually see the light of day), plus the Coen Brothers. Speaking of which ...

His big break was supposed to be Hail, Caesar!

The hilarious second trailer for the Coen Brothers comedy introduced Ehrenreich to the world in the role of a bumbling cowboy turned actor who doesn't take direction well.

The 26-year-old's scenes were being used to sell the movie, which seemed to indicate Ehrenreich's breakout moment was upon us. Unfortunately, Hail, Caesar! tanked at the box office, which meant few got to appreciate the actor's talents.

He can do funny

If people had seen Hail, Caesar!, they would have noticed that Ehrenreich has great comic timing. The new Star Wars instalment is being directed by the men who brought us 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, and now we have further confirmation that the movie will have a lighter tone. Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy told Entertainment Weekly last summer, "You can imagine, given who we've chosen to come in and direct, it should be very entertaining and funny ... Han Solo is the character inside Star Wars that everybody knows has a wit and sense of humour. So that's what this should be."

He has experience when it comes to taking on a beloved character

It's not exactly in the same league, but Ehrenreich had a part in the recent glut of movies based on much-loved young adult novels. He played one of the leads in Beautiful Creatures, an adaptation of the first novel in the Caster Chronicles series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It prompted Teen Vogue to proclaim, "Twi-hards, don't fret! Alden Ehrenreich is Hollywood's next supernatural stud."

Maybe that prepared him, ever so slightly, for the fanboys and girls who will be waiting impatiently for the 2018 release, so they can judge how he stacks up to the original.

- NZ Herald

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