Ask any “Star Wars” fan what’s special about the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and they’ll keep it simple: It’s a new “Star Wars” movie. Fans of the legendary and long-running franchise are among the most rabid for new material and are also the most critical of it — “Solo,” which tells the origin story of Han Solo and his gang, is not exempt from this treatment, especially since the main character was originally played by Harrison Ford. Such a high bar might have set up pressure for the cast and crew, but you wouldn’t know it on Monday night at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, where The Cinema Society, Nissan and Fiji hosted an advanced screening. Some of the heaviest hitters from the cast — including Alden Ehrenreich, (who plays the young Han Solo,) Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke and Paul Bettany — attended the event.
Ehrenreich had his work cut out for him as the new star of “Solo,” and he knew it. He’s told media outlets he received Ford’s blessing and studied hard for the part, even tapping a group of fact-checkers who were on set to ensure the story line and any improvisation in the movie fit within the “Star Wars” world.
“There’s this amazing braintrust of people who know the whole universe so well,” the 28 year-old said. “So we talked to them and they gave us more input. That’s really great to have because the universe is so full, it’s kind of like a culture of its own.”
Bettany is coming off a busy beginning of the year, which has included the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” and a trip to Cannes. He paused for a moment on the red carpet to mull some of the critics of the film.
“If you can’t branch off, if there’s only one story to tell, it’s going to peter out,” the actor said. “One of the lovely things about these stand-alone movies is that they can have a different tone from the main franchise because they’re not encumbered by the same set of rules. The most nerdy friend that I have is my dear friend, singer/songwriter Ryan Adams; he is a ‘Star Wars’ nut, and he feels that this movie absolutely saved the franchise. So there will always be a difference of opinion.”
While Clarke, who’s known for her part as Daenerys Targaryen on “Game of Thrones,” got her picture taken, other attendees began streaming into the theater. Among them: Lauren Bush Lauren and her man David, and Tiffany Haddish. Sporting a floral bomber and skinny jeans, Haddish stopped briefly to talk to reporters, who asked her if she’d watched the royal wedding. “I saw Oprah was there,” Haddish replied heartily.
Clarke’s time on “GoT” is coming to a close, with the series finale of the much-loved show coming in 2019. What’s she doing after it’s all done?
“Plan number one is sleeping, for a really long time,” Clarke said with a wry smile. “Plan number two is going to a hot place to sleep again. And then plan number three will make itself known later on.”
The actor who brought the most excitement from the crowd was indisputably Glover, who showed up in a Gucci sweater vest and loafers. The comedian, writer and musician plays the stylish and swaggering Lando Calrissian in “Solo,” and is still reeling from the acclaim surrounding his latest song and music video “This Is America.” Glover has played a wide breadth of characters over the span of his career, and said for his next role, he’d like to be “somebody interesting, who’s able to be themselves.
“I just feel like the spectrum’s a lot wider now, with characters. There’s an article out right now that says Lando’s pansexual. I would want to play someone who’s, like, explicitly pansexual,” he said, referring to speculation of his character’s sexual orientation. “Maybe somebody who’s a little darker. But I’m very lucky, any time I want to do those things, or be a new character, I just write them into ‘Atlanta.’”
More from the Eye:
Launch Gallery: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' New York Premiere