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The Solo: A Star Wars Story Scenes You Didn't See

It seems like it's already becoming tradition for the Star Wars spinoff films to endure bumpy roads to the screen. After Rogue One's major reshoots garnered no small amount of media attention, Solo made even bigger waves with its mid-production director switch. Regardless of how you feel about the final product, it's hard to ignore the struggles behind the scenes.

We may never know for sure exactly what was lost when Ron Howard took over Solo directing duties from Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Principal photography was mere weeks from completion at the time of the swap, but Howard reshot most of that material, reportedly ultimately responsible for about 70 percent of what we saw. Solo's script, written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan, seems to have remained mostly unchanged, but what wound up onscreen may well be radically different nonetheless. Let's take a look at what we know about the Solo scenes you didn't see. 

Michael K. Williams as Dryden Vos

The single biggest effect of Solo's director shakeup is probably the character of Dryden Vos. Wire star Michael K. Williams was originally cast as the crime lord, and in fact had completed his work on the film. When the reshoots began under Howard's direction, Williams was unavailable to return, necessitating a Vos recast with Marvel favorite (and frequent Ron Howard collaborator) Paul Bettany, who was eager to join the Star Wars universe.

But it wasn't just a matter of swapping performers. The filmmakers took this opportunity to rework the character drastically, changing him from a human/alien hybrid performed entirely via motion capture to a scar-faced human. "I thought it was some great stuff," Williams lamented to Entertainment Weekly Radio. "It's unfortunate the world won't get to see it." Concept art revealing the reptilian nature of the original Vos has now surfaced, hinting at just how different the antagonist could have been. 

Han in the Academy

Han Solo's time in the Imperial Academy has long been an important part of Star Wars lore. Of course, all bets are off after Lucasfilm and Disney's reboot of the Expanded Universe canon, but Solo maintains the basics of this chapter in Han's life. It's not quite the same as the stories in the "Legends" tales, though, and it's condensed considerably, with Han rather quickly abandoning the Empire to join up with Beckett's band of outlaws.

However, the movie did initially spend a little more time on Han's Imperial career. Jon Kasdan revealed that earlier cuts of the movie featured a brief montage of the smuggler's education in the Academy, honing his flight skills before being suspended for refusing to follow orders. As a special bonus, the sequence even featured Kasdan himself and First Assistant Director Toby Hefferman appearing in a cameo as fan favorite comic book stormtroopers Tag and Bink.

It all simply fell victim to the need for expediency in the movie's first act. "Ultimately...the trajectory of the movie is helped by not having it," Kasdan explained. 

Extended interview

Further evidence of extra Imperial material can be found in Solo's first teaser trailer. When the movie's marketing kicked into hyperdrive, we took a close look at every tiny detail we could spot. Now that the movie is out, further review reveals a moment we didn't see in the finished film. In fact, it appears to be a totally different version of an existing plot point, perhaps left over from the Lord and Miller version.

In the movie, Han's enlistment in the Imperial Navy happens quickly, as he rushes through the line at the space port on Corellia, desperate to get off the planet after being separated from Qi'ra. The teaser, however, contains a brief glimpse of a scene in the same port, with Han sitting down at a desk with an officer. Even without further context, it seems like a safe assumption that this represents a more leisurely paced version of Solo that we're never likely to see in full. 

Qi'ra on the Falcon

Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra remains something of an enigma throughout Solo. This is, of course, by design, as the secrets of her past become a driving force for Han's own character arc. In fact, the movie's shocking twist cameo that reveals who she's been working for has been the source of no small amount of discussion since opening night. At one point, though, there were a handful of small character moments that let us know her a little better.

Clarke mentioned in an interview with Collider that some of her scenes on board the Millennium Falcon were abbreviated for the final cut. In particular, she spent some time working with the Falcon's fuel systems and exploring the ship's storage hold, probably in an effort to help hold things together during the near-disastrous Kessel Run. Clarke also talked about doing her hair in Lando's mirror, though she seemed to be joking about that one. Nevertheless, considering the scene in Lando's cape closet, it wouldn't have felt out of place. 

Snowball fight

Sometimes, unscripted moments on a film set become pieces of movie magic. The production process can be arduous, especially on a big action blockbuster, and actors or crewmembers desperate to entertain themselves might strike upon an idea that adds a much-needed burst of personality to the proceedings. There's even a Lucasfilm tradition of great moments of improvisation, from lines of dialogue (Han's response of "I know" to Leia's "I love you" in Empire Strikes Back) to major scene changes (Indiana Jones bringing a gun to a swordfight).

Such a moment almost made it to Solo, though it was cut before it could hit the screen. Alden Ehrenreich described a day of shooting in Italy's Dolemite Mountains during which Woody Harrelson, bored while everyone waited for the right sunlight, started a playful snowball fight with Ehrenreich and Chewbacca performer Joonas Suotamo. The crew decided to continue the battle while cameras rolled, hoping for a nice bit of character bonding. It was likely cut in an effort to maintain tonal consistency, as the scene would have occurred not long after the tragic death of Val. 

Lord & Miller's improvisations

It's currently hard to say if any other entire scenes like the snowball fight were lost during the transition to Howard from Lord and Miller, but it seems likely that countless smaller moments fell victim to the change. The precise reasons for the original directors' dismissal remain a matter of speculation, but sources close to the production have mostly cited Lucasfilm's discomfort with experiments and improvisations that were reportedly threatening to derail the schedule. The Kasdans were also rumored to be unhappy with a lack of adherence to their script.

Considering that Lord and Miller's stock in trade has always been comedy, it's not surprising that the Lucas higher-ups realized they weren't the ideal visionaries for the mostly straight-faced adventure we eventually got. We're not likely to ever see much of the original content that was replaced during Howard's reshoots, but it's fascinating to imagine the nearly complete alternate version of Solo: A Star Wars Story that exists in the raw footage. Somewhere in the Lucasfilm vaults (maybe next to a dusty master copy of the Holiday Special), there will always be a stranger, perhaps funnier Solo that could have been.