Now that the Han Solo spinoff movie has been safely delivered into the hands of Opie, we can all take a deep breath and dive in to the best part of a high-profile Hollywood shakeup: The gossipy postmortem on where it all went wrong. The Hollywood Reporter has just that in its newest issue, delving in great detail into what happened to make producer Kathleen Kennedy send directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller down the garbage chute. And while Lord and Miller clashed with Kennedy over several issues, the answer can be distilled down to one word: Improv.
Yes, the comedic technique that’s stretched the running time of your average Hollywood comedy far past its breaking point (Sisters really did not need to be two hours long) was a source of much conflict on the set, with Lucasfilm brass growing increasingly upset that Lord and Miller were taking too long to finish each camera setup and throwing out lines to the actors that weren’t in the script, leaving hundreds of crew members sitting around idle while they riffed.
This latter transgression caused Lawrence Kasdan—the series’ longtime screenwriter who co-wrote the Han Solo spinoff with his son—to fly out to the set, where he clashed with Lord and Miller. There’s no improv in Star Wars, you see, and Kasdan was extremely unhappy that his carefully constructed snappy dialogue was being discarded. To appease him, Lord and Miller did takes with his dialogue, then additional improv takes; Kennedy, who was already displeased with the limited coverage that was being provided to the film’s editors and with star Alden Ehrenreich’s performance—she hired an acting coach for him after seeing initial footage, a rarity so late in a production—was not having this impudence. So she canned them.
Lord and Miller have reportedly been emailing with Howard and are taking the whole thing in stride. (They are reportedly still under consideration for The Flash, which presumably helps.) The footage Lord and Miller already shot is “very usable,” THR’s source says, but production will now extend into September rather than ending in July as planned. Whether this will affect the film’s planned May 2018 release date—and how the Directors Guild of America, which usually only allows one credited director on a project save for “bona fide teams,” will handle the switch—remains to be seen.