Ron Howard was confirmed as the replacement director for the new “Star Wars” movie that tells the back story of Han Solo. The Oscar-winning helmer (“A Beautiful Mind”) replaces Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The pair, who previously directed the blockbuster “The LEGO Movie,” were dropped by Disney earlier this week despite being six months into production.
Howard and “Star Wars” creator George Lucas first worked together on the sleeper hit “American Graffiti” 45 years ago. That comedy-drama, set on one pivotal night in a small California town in 1962 reaped five Oscar bids, including two for Lucas as director and co-screenwriter. Howard, who was transitioning from child stardom, was the lead of a largely unknown cast.
Among the others in the ensemble was Harrison Ford, who played the pivotal role of an out-of-towner whose need for speed prompts a drag race with serious consequences. Four years after the success of this film, Lucas cast Ford as Han Solo, one of the leads in “Star Wars.” While Ford played the part in the original trilogy and “The Force Awakens” in 2015, he is not slated to be part of this new film that tells of his character’s early years.
Both Ford and Howard returned for the sequel “More American Graffiti” in 1979. Lucas only produced this picture, leaving the writing and directing to Bill L. Norton (“Cisco Pike”). It was a box office disappointment and marked Howard’s final credited film role. Since he left his TV hit “Happy Days” in 1980, Howard has concentrated on directing and producing.