Likely fulfilling the dream of some Star Wars fan, who would normally keep that dream to themselves or a Reddit thread, Ellen Page will play Han Solo to Jessica Alba’s Princess Leia in the upcoming Empire Strikes Back live-read from Jason Reitman. As announced yesterday, Reitman is staging one of his now-traditional run-throughs of the film with another all-star cast, with Aaron Paul’s Luke Skywalker facing off against J.K. Simmons’ Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant contributing his British gangliness to C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert his insurance company pitchman smoothness to Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollak playing Yoda and myriad strangled Imperials. And now he’s brought Page in to play the gender-flipped Solo, hoping to reexamine Empire in the way he did with his all-black version of Reservoir Dogs and all-female Glengarry Glenn Ross. Or, at least, to get the Internet talking about what is otherwise just a bunch of actors sitting on stage, reading aloud a movie it’s seen 100 times.
But more than just knowing that Page’s casting will bring the project lots of attention, Reitman says that he actually sees a lot of Han Solo in the actress. “In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life? And when I think of that, I think of Ellen Page,” Reitman says. As for Alba’s casting, he says, “For Leia, I just wanted to find an actress who was beautiful and also had the ability to be tough and funny, and I’ve seen Alba do all of that. And I needed somebody who would have chemistry with Ellen.” (Offering a further, somewhat backhanded compliment to Alba, Reitman adds, “I have no doubt that Ellen Page could have chemistry with anybody.”)
The Empire Strikes Back live read—complete with the classic Leia/Han Solo exchange, “I love you” / “Uh, doy”—takes place tonight, Dec. 18, at Los Angeles’ Ace Hotel Theater. It’s long since sold out. The Aggrieved White Male Strikes Back is currently playing out across comment threads everywhere.