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As of last month, all signs suggested that Alden Ehrenreich had become the frontrunner to play a young Han Solo in the upcoming, Solo-focused Star Wars anthology movie. Now, it appears that he’s won the role.
Multiple media outlets, including the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Deadline, are reporting that Ehrenreich, 26, is in the process of closing the deal to take over as pilot of the Millennium Falcon, a job originally held rather famously by Harrison Ford. All of the reports cite unnamed sources confirming the news, but reps for Disney, Lucasfilm, and Ehrenreich have not officially gone on the record.
Assuming those unnamed sources are correct, this is a huge moment for Ehrenreich, who until just a few months ago, was essentially an unknown entity. His performance earlier this year in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! — in which he played a stalwart, but simple-minded cowboy-actor in the 1940s — captured the attention of many critics and film writers, including those of us at Yahoo, and has now catapulted him into the most successful franchise in film history. Apparently, he’ll go from “Would that it were so simple” to “Laugh it up, fuzzball,” or at least its young Han Solo equivalent.
Watch a featurette about Ehrenreich’s role in ‘Hail, Caesar!’:
Plot details for the Han Solo movie remain under wraps. We know that it will be directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord of 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie and that it’s being scripted by Lawrence Kasdan and Jon Kasdan. Production is due to begin in January, with 2018 set as the target release date.
As for what we know about Ehrenreich, here are a few things:
— He got his start as an actor after Steven Spielberg happened to see his performance in a bat mitzvah video. “I made a short film with a friend of mine when I was 14 that played at a friend of ours’ bat mitzvah,” the actor told Vulture back in 2009. “In it, I ran around as a skinny little punk, trying on girls’ clothes and eating dirt … To be honest, you go to a bat mitzvah in Los Angeles and you can count on at least a few industry people to be there. But it wasn’t like we thought of that. Well, Steven Spielberg was there. I got a call afterwards from these girls from school who told me that he had really liked the movie. Pretty soon, the DreamWorks people had gotten me an agent, and by now I’ve gone on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of auditions.”
— All those auditions led to some decent work for Ehrenreich, even if — until now — none of it made him a household name. He worked with Francis Ford Coppola twice, in a pair of experimental films called Twixt and Tetro. He also played Danny, the estranged stepson of Cate Blanchett, in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and the lead in 2013′s Beautiful Creatures, based on the young adult novel.
— Before his Han Solo work gets seen by the masses, he’ll appear in a couple of additional movies that already wrapped production: an Iraq War drama called The Yellow Birds, which co-stars Tye Sheriden and Jennifer Aniston, and a film directed by Warren Beatty and loosely based on the latter years of Howard Hughes’s life. (Beatty reportedly plays Hughes.) That second project still doesn’t have a title, but both it and The Yellow Birds are expected to be released later this year.
— And finally, as he proves in Hail, Caesar!, this guy is ready for his close-up.