Michele Manelis talks to Alden Ehrenreich about the role that has blown him away.
Apparently you were discovered by Steven Spielberg at a bat mitzvah?
Yeah, so Steven Spielberg saw a video I made with a friend. We would make these very stupid videos just to make ourselves laugh and this one girl asked us to make one for her bat mitzvah. We showed it to our parents and they said we looked very stupid and that we shouldn't let anybody see it. But we didn't care and did it anyway. I was on a school trip on the night of her bat mitzvah but they had the video on a loop and Steven Spielberg saw it. And then suddenly I got a call from DreamWorks, from the head of casting, when I was 14. And that was how I got an agent. It's pretty crazy, I know.
How did you feel when you found out you got the role?
When I got the phone call from the directors telling me I had the role, I was blown away. Every other role that I've got, you kind of go like, "Wow!" and you call people and they go, "Wow! That's so exciting!" But with this, it's so huge that you call people and you say, "I got this part!" and they are totally silent. They don't know what to do because it's so enormous. And now, it's really weird to go to my stepbrother's house and all their kids are playing with Star Wars action figures and now they're going to have a little Lego version of me to have the dog chew on. It's pretty surreal.
How did you prepare for this role? It's huge.
Yes. When I first got the part I watched all the movies - one through seven - and then spent some time trying to absorb everything and the world itself, which has a lot of crazy rules to it. The pressure is a bit intense.
You're still very young to be in the position you're in, but your success wasn't overnight either.
That's true. I started auditioning when I was about 14. I'm glad that things really didn't start happening on a regular basis until I was into my 20s because I think going to college and actually understanding what you see in the world and getting some sense of yourself in that way, makes for a better actor. Otherwise, for people who just start and that's all they ever know, that would seem to be a lot more challenging because then what experiences do they have to draw on?
Are your friends pretty envious now that you're Han Solo?
Well, most of my friends aren't actors so they're not too jealous about it. And, like me, they all grew up in Los Angeles so they're not that enchanted by the whole thing. They have a good way of making fun of me and telling me that I'm stupid.
What's your favourite aspect of Han Solo?
The humour was my favorite thing from the very beginning and it was very much the intention from the outset that they wanted to have this movie be as funny as a Star Wars movie can be. You get so much humour in the originals from Han, and that particular kind of humour I really love. That was one of the most attractive things to me in terms of playing the part.
I heard you did a road trip across the US recently. What prompted you to do it?
I grew up in LA and New York and if you do that, you get a certain perspective that is different from what it might be in the Midwest or the South. One of the reasons I wanted to do that trip was to get a deeper sense of my countrymen and about the things are happening in the country.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is at cinemas now.