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Jewish facts about the new Han Solo ‘Star Wars’ movie

  • JTAStarWars
Star Wars fans are eagerly awaiting the franchise’s latest film, Solo: A Star Wars Story. As its title suggests, the flick focuses on Han Solo, the legendary character made famous by Harrison Ford in the series’ first films from the late 1970s.
by GABE FRIEDMAN | May 24, 2018

The latest movie, which opens in the US on May 25, is the second of what are being called the Star Wars anthology films, or offshoots of the main series. For now, the main series is made up of three trilogies: the original films, the early 2000s prequels and the more recent sequels.

The first anthology film was Rogue One, released in 2016.

Solo: A Star Wars Story follows a young version of the intergalactic smuggler on the planet Corellia, along with his furry sidekick, Chewbacca. The “space western”, as it’s being called, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week and has been described as “crackingly enjoyable” and a “winning chapter” in the Star Wars canon.

Here are some Jewish facts about the film and its titular character that you might not have known.

1. The new Han Solo is a nice Jewish boy from LA

His name is Alden Ehrenreich, and he attended a Reconstructionist synagogue in Los Angeles’ Pacific Palisades neighbourhood. Ehrenreich, 28, is not yet a recognisable star, but he has appeared in films such as Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!.

2. The old Han Solo is also (partly) Jewish

Harrison Ford once delivered one of the strangest lines ever said about Jewish identity: “As a man, I’ve always felt Irish; as an actor, I’ve always felt Jewish,” he said on the US TV show, Inside the Actors Studio, in 2000. Ford’s father was Irish, and his maternal grandparents were Jewish emigrants from Belarus. We’ll leave it to the reader to interpret the quote.

3. Steven Spielberg discovered Ehrenreich at a bat mitzvah

Fourteen years ago, Ehrenreich made a home movie to show at his friend’s bat mitzvah. Steven Spielberg’s daughter happened to be friends with the bat mitzvah girl, and the director attended the ceremony. Ehrenreich described the movie as a “piece of sh--”, but Spielberg clearly saw something in Ehrenreich’s performance. He invited Ehrenreich to his Dreamworks studio and introduced him to fellow legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, who would later cast him in multiple films. Ehrenreich’s well-reviewed performance in Coppola’s Tetro in 2009 put him on the map.

4. Four other Jewish actors were considered for the role

After thousands auditioned for the coveted Han Solo role in the latest film, a final list of around a dozen actors was announced in early 2016. Among the finalists were four different Jewish actors: Logan Lerman (known for his roles in Fury alongside Brad Pitt, and in The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Dave Franco (James Franco’s brother, who’s now a marquee star), Ansel Elgort (star of the action film Baby Driver, whose non-Jewish grandmother helped Norwegian Jews escape Nazis) and Emory Cohen (best known for co-starring in Brooklyn with Saoirse Ronan).

5. The script was written by a Jewish father-and-son duo

Solo was penned by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan. Lawrence co-wrote two of the original Star Wars films: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He has said this will be the last Star Wars movie he works on. He received an award from the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival in 2016. Jonathan, 38, has acted in small roles and doesn’t have a long list of writing credits to his name yet. (JTA)

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