Who Is Alden Ehrenreich?
Alden Ehrenreich (born November 22, 1989) is the actor playing Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). Before taking over this iconic role, which was first brought to life by Harrison Ford, Ehrenreich was seen in films that include Beautiful Creatures (2013) and Hail Caesar (2016). Among the Hollywood notables he's worked with are Francis Ford Coppola, Warren Beatty and Joel and Ethan Coen. Ehrenreich was discovered by Steven Spielberg when the filmmaker was a guest at a bat mitzvah and saw a short film featuring a teenaged Ehrenreich.
The New Han Solo
In 2016 it was announced that Alden Ehrenreich would take over the iconic part of Han Solo, originated by Harrison Ford in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977). Ehrenreich portrays Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, a film about Solo's escapades with Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca and others — before he encountered Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa.
It wasn't easy for Ehrenreich to land the part. He auditioned multiple times over six months, and even made a visit to the Millennium Falcon's cockpit to read a scene. In the end, he beat out a reported 2,500 competitors, among whom were rumored to be actors like Ansel Elgort, Jack Reynor and Dave Franco.
Ehrenreich and Harrison Ford
Ford offered Ehrenreich some advice about taking over the role, though Ehrenreich has been tight-lipped about what the older actor said to him. However, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy explained to Entertainment Weekly, "What [Ford] did so beautifully for Alden was he talked a lot about what he remembered when he first read Star Wars, and what George [Lucas] had done with Han. Who the character was and the conversations he had for so many years with George about how that character developed."
Once the Solo film began shooting, there were difficulties on set: in 2017, the film's original directors were dismissed mid-production and Ron Howard took over. Around the time this news became public, The Hollywood Reporter also shared that Lucasfilm had brought in an acting coach to work with Ehrenreich on his performance; hiring such coaches isn't out of the ordinary, but the fact that it happened after months of shooting was notable. Despite these issues, the film was completed in time for its planned May 25, 2018, release date.
After an audition process that included reading a passage from Catcher in the Rye, Ehrenreich made his film debut in Tetro (2009), directed by Francis Ford Coppola and shot while Ehrenreich was still in high school. Though his performance impressed critics, the movie had limited distribution (and audiences). Ehrenreich also appeared in another Coppola project, the horror film Twixt (2011). (In addition, he was directed by Sofia Coppola when he romanced Natalie Portman in a 2011 commercial for Miss Dior Cherie perfume.)
Ehrenreich took on supporting parts in Stoker (2013) and Blue Jasmine (2013). In Beautiful Creatures (2013), he played a romantic lead; his work in the adaptation of a popular paranormal young adult novel was applauded, but the film didn't achieve box office success.
In Joel and Ethan Coen's Hail Caesar (2016), Ehrenreich became a singing cowboy star in 1950s Hollywood, and got to show off some horse riding and roping skills (he also more than held his own in scenes with Joseph Fiennes, Josh Brolin and George Clooney). Yet Ehrenreich almost didn't get the role; though he loved the script, the Coen brothers had to be convinced to let Ehrenreich read for them.
Ehrenreich impressed Warren Beatty enough that the actor-director selected him to play one of mogul Howard Hughes' chauffeurs in Rules Don't Apply (2016). And besides Solo: A Star Wars Story, in 2018 audiences will be able to see Ehrenreich in The Yellow Birds, in which he portrays a soldier who served in the Iraq War.
Ehrenreich's career has also had its low points, such as when he unsuccessfully auditioned for films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). (Ehrenreich's said that he buys himself a present in order to bolster his spirits after failing to land a desired role.) Yet he can see the bright side of waiting for success to arrive; in a 2016 interview with the Los Angeles Times he stated, "I'm really glad I got to go through high school, have a college experience and have the last five years since then, just … being a person."
When Was Alden Ehrenreich Born?
Alden Caleb Ehrenreich was born in Los Angeles, California, on November 22, 1989.
Ehrenreich grew up in well-to-do Pacific Palisades, a coastal community in Los Angeles. During his childhood he developed a love of old movies.
Ehrenreich went to Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences in Santa Monica, California, where he was part of the theater program. But his mother didn't want him to pursue a career as a child actor.
Discovered by Spielberg
It was filmmaker Steven Spielberg who helped launch Ehrenreich's career. Ehrenreich enjoyed creating short videos with his friends; one funny short made when he was 14 — in which he ate dirt and sported a kimono — got shown at a bat mitzvah. In the audience for Ehrenreich's performance was Spielberg.
Afterwards, DreamWorks, Spielberg's studio, got in touch with the teenager and his family, and Ehrenreich met the casting director there. He soon had an agent, and appeared on the television shows Supernatural and CSI. However, he hasn't been directed by Spielberg.
Ehrenreich does feel that Spielberg's early attention benefited him in another way besides jump starting his career. In 2016, he told Interview magazine, "I think that having had [Spielberg’s] confidence in me probably made me a little more immune to feeling as bad about myself in the face of rejection."
Education and Artist Collective
Ehrenreich attended New York University but left in 2011 before completing his degree. Knowing that he wanted to act spurred this decision; he said in a 2016 interview, "I just felt like it was time to buckle down and go after the dream in a more serious fashion."
While at NYU, in 2009 Ehrenreich co-founded The Collectin, an artist collective that's created plays and films. The group has now made Los Angeles its primary location, and Ehrenreich remains involved.
Name Pronunciation and Alden Origins
Ehrenreich is pronounced as "air-ren-rike"; Alden is said as "all-den."
When his mother was pregnant with him, Ehrenreich's parents went to see Field of Dreams (1989). They liked the name of the movie's director, Phil Alden Robinson; in addition, the hospital where Ehrenreich was born was on Alden Drive in Los Angeles — so he ended up with the first name Alden.
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