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Now for a look at some unusual suspects.
Obviously, any story about the origins of Han Solo must be populated with unsavory characters from the galactic underworld.
With Solo: A Star Wars Story, out May 25, we have three treacherous figures — at least — who fill out his rogue’s gallery.
Tobias Beckett — played by Woody Harrelson
“Well, he really shapes Han really more than anybody, as Han comes to realize that in a lawless time he needs to try to come to terms with some kind of moral code,” says director Ron Howard.
Screenwriters Lawrence and Jon Kasdan both re-read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island before diving into the script, looking to create a similar mentor/apprentice relationship to the pirate Long John Silver and young Jim Hawkins.
In that story, Silver was a scoundrel who had been around nefarious circles for a while, but without any great success to his name.
“He is a very tough criminal,” Lawrence Kasdan says of Beckett. “And, as you might think with Woody, who has enormous humanity, it’s not just that.”
Howard says Beckett is “such a charismatic character.” And he does have a soft spot, choosing not to end this wannabe smuggler to tries to ingratiate himself.
“Han sort of forces himself into Woody’s life,” Lawrence Kasdan says. “It starts a relationship that has enormous impact on what kind of person Han will be.”
Val — played by Thandie Newton
This character is a little more mysterious. We don’t have a lot of information about her, except that she carries a massive blaster that’s only slightly more intimidating that her scowl.
“She’s tied to Beckett, that’s how Han meets Val,” says Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “They’ve been partners a long time.”
Jon Kasdan calls Val “part of the criminal family that Han gets involved in.”
She’s not impressed with the Corellian pilot. “I will say at first glance, doesn’t necessarily have total faith in Han — as a lot of people he meets in his life tend to feel about him,” Jon Kasdan says. “She’s a little skeptical of this kid when she meets him. And her relationship with him goes in, I think, an … interesting direction.”
The filmmakers weren’t going any further into what that might mean.
Dryden Vos — played by Paul Bettany
Here’s the successful crime boss. The Godfather. The debonair and sophisticated hoodlum.
We’ve seen the sleazy take on a gangland chief with Jabba the Hutt, but Vos will give us the handsome version of a figure who has found great success by breaking the rules — but isn’t the kind to get his hands dirty.
“It’s a sort of combination of class and swagger and real danger which I think is a fun thing, and he absolutely inhabits it,” says Jon Kasdan. “He’s way deeper in the crime world than anyone else that we meet in the movie.”
While Tobias Beckett is immersed in the underworld, too, “they’re just in slightly different places,” Jon says. He compared it to Michael Gambon’s character in Layer Cake or Albert Finney in Miller’s Crossing, “a type of character who’s a little more advanced.”
The galactic crime realm isn’t a place where people concern themselves with titles, though. “There’s no hierarchy,” Jon Kasdan says. “There are some that are in power, and there’s some that are scrambling to stay alive.”
The part was originally to be played by Michael K. Williams, who had lethal panache as the crime boss Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, but when shooting on Solo was extended after Howard took over during the director shake-up Williams was already committed to another project and had to be replaced.
Vos is a familiar name to Star Wars diehards, since Quinlan Vos was a Jedi featured on The Clone Wars animated series (and a background figure in The Phantom Menace.) But, sorry, Lucasfilm says the similar last names are just coincidence.
The makers of Solo wouldn’t confirm any other potential villains, but fans have been speculating for some time about the shadow in the back of that picture Howard tweeted of him and Bettany when the actor wrapped production.
Back corner, to the left. The shape of what looks like … a familiar helmet.
Or is that just a trick of the eye?
It’s not like a certain bounty hunter to hide in plain sight, right?