On the eve of everyone’s favourite smuggler’s return to the cinema screens, albeit in a different form, I thought it was the perfect time to launch a Screen Life section of the blog.
Whether we like the new film or loathe it, what is for definite is that Han Solo will be redefined. So while we are in the last days of Harrison Ford’s monopoly, I thought we’d celebrate my ten best moments of the coolest pilot on the block.
- “We’re all gonna be a lot thinner” ( A New Hope, 1977)
He’s only just met her but his love/hate relationship with the Princess got off to a cracking start with her practically throwing him into a garbage compactor after narrowly avoiding shooting his leg off. Still he managed to get in a few one liners and acted the gentleman by shoving her higher up the trash. He also saved feckless Luke for the first of many times as he got himself caught up in a fight with a monster.
Did you know – The cast spent two days submerged in water shooting the scene and in Luke Skywalker actor, Mark Hamill’s words “You’d get rashes in places you never thought possible”. Hamill’s suffering didn’t end there, he had to hold his breath under water for so long, he burst a blood vessel in his eye and Lucas had to reshoot the scene so it didn’t show.
- “Hey it’s me” (Return of the Jedi, 1983)
Fresh from recovering from hibernation sickness, our plucky hero volunteered to hit teddy bear central, Endor, to get the Death Star shields down for the Rebels. It’s always confused me as to why he never went for leading the space onslaught but hey, this is Han Solo, he can do what he wants. Except his idea of a surprise attack kind of falls flat and they end up at the mercy of first the Empire and then the Ewoks.
Did you know – the word Ewok is never uttered in the Star Wars films
- “Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind” (A New Hope, 1977)
Han and Luke are left to their own devices as the “old fossil” heads off down the CCTV free corridors of the Death Star to knacker the tractor beam so they can get away. But in true adventure style, R2D2 finds out Princess Leia is in the nick and needs springing. Han isn’t going for it and so starts the iconic dialogue that you can see the actor is having major trouble with. It would be fascinating to know how many takes it took to spit out this bit of the script.
Did you know – Harrison Ford used to mock George Lucas’ writing, shouting across the set “You can type this shit, but you can’t say it”.
- “Who’s scruffy looking?” (The Empire Strikes Back, 1981)
This was his typical response to Leia’s legendary verbal attack on the “half witted, scruffy looking nerf herder”. The sexual tension was at high between these two even causing Leia to do a bit of unwitting incest by snogging her soon to be revealed twin brother in order to get old Han jealous. It worked.
Did you know – Disney are so intent on milking every last drop out of the Star Wars universe there is a whole comic devoted to this banter. Han, Leia and Luke are on a trip to get resources for the Rebels before the scenes of Empire Strikes Back and Han loses all their supplies by gambling so they have to smuggle stinky creatures across the galaxy for cash. The creatures? Yes you guessed it. Nerfs. Maximum burn points Princess.
- “You like me because I’m a scoundrel” (The Empire Strikes Back, 1981)
With Luke safely out of the way, levitating in some bog ridden hole, Han makes his devilish move on the Princess. His chosen seduction spot? The stomach of a giant spaceworm that he flew the Falcon into for a bit of down time while the Princess’s pvc clad father raged overhead. But he went in for the kill and had a bit of a snog in the Falcon until his nemesis, C3P0 interrupted them and Leia legged it.
Did you know – Carrie Fisher stood on a box for most of her scenes with Ford. She was only 5 foot 1 and Harrison Ford is 6 foot 1.
- “I’m out of it for a little while and everybody gets delusions of grandeur” (Return of the Jedi, 1983)
Poor old Han gets defrosted in Jabba’s throne room by Leia in disguise, then amid the most blinding hangover of his life, gets thrown in prison and hears a strange growling. Luckily it’s his brother from another mother Chewie and they hug it out.
Did you know – Harrison Ford wasn’t sure he was going to return for the third film so they invented the whole carbonite storyline to give him thinking time. Then when ROTJ was being written, Ford was insistent Solo died sacrificing himself to save his buddies, even the co-writer tried to kill Han off by making him not survive the thawing and putting audiences on edge that no-one was safe. All three ideas were refused by Lucas who 30 years later sold the franchise and what happens in the first movie Disney release? Han Solo gets a lightsabre right in the heart. You turn your back for five minutes eh George?
- “Chewie we’re home” (The Force Awakens, 2015)
The moment every Star Wars fan around the world spontaneously burst into tears. Han Solo and Chewie back on board the Millennium Falcon. The story may be slightly absurd, that he just happened to be passing a planet the Falcon just happened to have been hidden on and hijacked by two kids who happened to be getting a droid back to his old missus, Leia. But let’s suspend our disbelief better than BB8 in a space chase and just rejoice in the fact that, for however brief a moment, Han and Chewie were at the controls of the most beloved piece of junk in the galaxy.
Did you know – When Finn accidentally triggers the chess table, it picks up at exactly the moment that Chewie, 3P0 and R2 left off all those years ago.
- “Boring conversation anyway” (A New Hope, 1977)
Not for the last time, Han’s diplomacy skills score a big fat zero as he tries to blag Luke some time to get Leia and get the hell out but at least his sense of humour holds as he and Chewie get ready for an onslaught of Stormtroopers secure in the knowledge that even in close proximity, they can’t fire for shit.
Did you know – this scene may be the first meeting of future lovers Han and Leia but during the entire filming of A New Hope, Carrie Fisher and married Harrison Ford were having their own affair which Fisher laid out for all to see in the book A Princess Diarist, released shortly before her tragic death in 2016.
- “Let’s blow this thing and go home” (A New Hope, 1977)
Well that’s it, the selfish smuggler has got his cash and buggered off, the mardy farm boy is flying his X Wing to certain death with Daddy Dearest about to fire and Leia is about to get a major laser right in her gob. It ain’t looking good. Until hero of the hour, Solo appears like the Lone Ranger and shoots the Lord of Leather straight out of the way.
Did you know – When Lucas was selling the concept of Star Wars to the studios, he spliced together footage of WW2 fighter jets to give the impression of how he wanted the Death Star final battle to be.
- “I know” (The Empire Strikes Back, 1981)
The galaxy’s coolest guy is about to become so much cooler as he’s frozen in carbonite and Leia can’t contain herself any longer and blurts out she loves him to which he replies….I know. Perfect Han Solo moment, nothing more to be said.
Did you know- this dialogue wasn’t even in the script, originally Leia was to say “I love, I couldn’t tell you before but it’s true” and Han “Just remember that, ‘cause I’ll be back”. This time Ford wasn’t having any of this clunky dialogue and spoke to the director, suggesting the iconic moment. Thanks Harrison.
So there we are, if there are any missing , let me know in the comments below.
I wonder if this list will change after seeing Alden Ehrenreich’s interpretation. Only time will tell…