LOS ANGELES — A lot appears to have changed in a galaxy far, far away in the 32 years since we last saw Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) in “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi,” but when “Episode VII — The Force Awakens” debuts, Harrison Ford promises that a certain half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder will still be the roguish character we came to love in George Lucas’ original trilogy.
In a new interview with EW, Ford revealed that the daring pilot still has plenty of familiar foibles in the next installment of the franchise. “We spend a lot more time [in the movie] on his failure to master basic skills, like accounting,” Ford said. “And accounting for his own behavior. There’s a lot of the rogue still left in Solo. Some things don’t change.”
According to Ford, the iconic character has never really left him, despite the passage of time — where has Han Solo been? “Well, he’s been living with me — out back, in the shack,” Ford said, pointing out that 32 years “is going to put some rings on the tree, some experience in the bank. You might make an elaborate conjecture (about who Solo is now), but I think we answer that question in the film. It’s best left answered there.”
While the recent theatrical trailer sees Han imparting some wisdom to newcomers Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega) about the existence of The Force, Ford insisted that his formerly cynical character hasn’t become the new wise, old sage of the saga.
“There’s not an abandoning of the character,” he said. “He does not aspire to the position of Obi-‘Ben’ Kenobi, nor do I aspire to be some New Age Alec Guinness. His development is consistent with the character, and there are emotional elements which have occasioned his growth.”
After years of insisting that he wished Lucas had killed Han off in “Return of the Jedi,” and seeming fairly dismissive of the franchise that made him famous in general, Ford has changed his tune of late — as evidenced by his emotional appearances at San Diego Comic-Con and D23 Expo. “I was glad that the character was still alive for me to play in this new iteration,” he told EW.
As far as Ford is concerned, the franchise and the beloved characters belong to the fans, not the actors — “It’s not mine, it’s theirs,” he told EW — so he doesn’t feel particularly proprietary, despite an upcoming Han Solo origin film being developed for release in 2018.
Ford is coy on the subject of the standalone film; when asked if the producers had talked to him about it, he deflected: “I think they’re probably talking to the young Han Solo,” and when asked to impart advice for whoever ends up filling his boots, he offered, “I would say, ‘Talk to your director. Watch the movies. And welcome aboard. Make it your own.’”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hits theaters on Dec. 18.