Alden Ehrenreich was one of 3,000 actors to audition for 'Solo'—here's how he beat the odds

Alden Ehrenreich attends the Premiere Of Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's 'Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

As of May 2018, the Star Wars franchise has grossed over $8 billion worldwide, making it one of the most lucrative franchises in movie history. Now with "Solo: A Star Wars Story," that total is poised to continue to grow.

"Solo" follows the early days of on one of the Star Wars' most iconic characters, Han Solo, first played by Harrison Ford in 1977. The new film's original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the pair were fired mid-production), considered over 3,000 actors for the titular role, but none could beat Alden Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich was the very the first person to audition but still managed to make himself stand out.

Emilia Clarke, Chewbacca and Alden Ehrenreich attend the photocall for 'Solo: A Star Wars Story.'
Dominique Charriau/WireImage | Getty Images

To find the perfect man for the job, Lord and Miller worked with multiple casting agencies and toured acting schools across the U.S. and U.K., and even checked out some cowboy bars.

"We wanted to make sure we turned over every rock to find someone who has the sort of charisma and the sort of maverick sort of swagger," explained Miller.

"Turns out that, that was a total waste of money," Lord interjected. "Because the person who got the part was the first person to audition."

Ehrenreich, 28, performed a total of six auditions for the role which were designed to test his understanding of the character, his chemistry with other actors and his improvisational skills.

"My second [audition] I did with a dog puppet," Ehrenreich told USA Today at the "Solo" premiere. "So they would have a little machine [that would bark] and I would talk to the dog."

Another audition required that Ehrenreich perform scenes with a stand-in for Chewbacca, for which he had to learn to speak the Wookiee language, Shyriiwook.

The rising star also demonstrated a thoughtful understanding of Han Solo's complex, rebellious and charismatic persona and his unique blend of optimism and cynicism — earning himself a nod of approval from Harrison Ford.

Donald Glover and Alden Ehrenreich attend the screening of 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' during the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival.
Mike Marsland/WireImage | Getty Images

"I think his performance in these movies is not just a performance: He really filled this role and created this role," Ehrenreich said on the carpet to USA Today. "And it was really great walking out of [my meeting] with him and feeling he was really supportive and kind of gave us his blessing."

Since the film's release, the actor has received positive reviews for his nuanced and well-researched portrayal of the beloved character. "That performance wasn't created out of thin air," writes the Hollywood Reporter. "Ehrenreich did his research. He watched the films. He studied Ford's performances."

While Ehrenreich's audition process was undeniably difficult, his co-star Donald Glover, who plays Lando Calrissian, might have had an even more challenging process. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Glover and Ehrenreich talked about their auditions.

How ‘Solo’ star Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) went from YouTube comic to ‘Star Wars’
How ‘Solo’ star Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) went from YouTube comic to ‘Star Wars’

"I think I auditioned like way less than you. I think I auditioned seven times," Glover originally said to Ehrenreich."

"No, I auditioned six times," responded Ehrenreich.

Glover's eyes widened before he turned to the audience and said, "Oh, they weren't sure about me!"

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