Another day, another dump of details on the firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from the Han Solo movie, this time from The Hollywood Reporter, which confirms some earlier details while also adding a few more.
Among those details:
— Lord & Miller simply did not mesh with producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan.
There were “deep fundamental philosophical differences” in filmmaking styles, this person says, and the directors felt they were being given “zero creative freedom.” They also felt they were being asked to operate under “extreme scheduling constraints” and “were never given enough days for each scene from the very beginning.”
— Lawrence Kasdan really wanted Lord & Miller to follow the script, and while Lord & Miller did a couple of takes with the written lines, they also filmed a few takes with improvised lines, much to the dismay of Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy, who saw it as a waste of time and resources.
— Lord & Miller only provided a few angles for each scene, leaving fewer options in the editing room.
— The producers were not satisfied with the performance that Lord & Miller elicited from star Alden Ehrenreich, so they brought in an acting coach, which was unusual for so late in a production.
— Lawrence Kasdan was essentially operating as a “shadow director,” as Tony Gilroy did for Gareth Edwards on the set of Rogue One, only Miller & Lord were more experienced than Gareth Edwards and did not care for the interference.
— Most damning of all, the crew were relieved by the firing of Lord & Miller. Their improvisational style did not work “on a set with hundreds of crewmembers waiting for direction … Production department heads began to complain. While the pair appeared to listen when told of festering problems, this person says their approach did not change.”
Lord and Miller were not prepared to have Kasdan become a shadow director. With an impasse reached, Kennedy finally pulled the trigger. The next day, when the crew was told that Ron Howard would take over as director, sources say they broke into applause.
— THR essentially surmises than on a franchise film of this scale, Kennedy believes that “leadership” is more important than creative input, and Lord & Miller, like Gareth Edwards, lacked the requisite leadership skills for a film of this size.
So why not hire guys like Ron Howard or Tony Gilroy in the first place? The producers seem to want to make a splash with out-of-the-box hires, but what they really want is a Type-A director who can lead and execute a vision that’s already been set in place. I don’t necessarily fault them for firing Lord & Miller, but they probably should have chosen the less sexy, more utilitarian director in the first place.
Ron Howard is the perfect director for a Star Wars film: He’s incredibly competent, well-respected, a good leader, and God bless him, he doesn’t really have a distinctive style that he might want to impress upon a film. He’s happy to defer to others and execute what’s in the script, which has resulted in years of well-made films that are as good, or as bad as the scripts from which he is working.
Not for nothing, but hiring Howard was a good idea in another sense: He’s a good guy. It would’ve been difficult for Lord & Miller to get angry with Opie for taking over their film. In fact, according to the piece, Howard has been emailing Lord & Miller to ensure a smooth transition, and that Lord & Miller have been “very supportive, very elegant.”
How could you be anything other than supportive of a guy like Ron Howard?