Ron Howard on Jabba, Dryden… and Tom Hanks?!

Ron Howard has been very open in his approach to directing Solo: A Star Wars Story by snapping behind the scenes pictures, retweeting audience reactions, and engaging with fans. Now, he’s sharing secrets about smugglers, Hutt crime lords and Woody – not Harrelson, the one from Toy Story.


Sitting down for an interview with Empire, Ron Howard is diving deeper into his latest entry in the Star Wars franchise as it reaches its third week at the box office. While the movie may have encountered an asteroid field of lower ticket sales, there’s no denying that Solo brings a lot to the proverbial table. From crime syndicates to self aware droids to the return of a certain hooded menace from the prequels, Ron Howard has a lot to say about the film itself – and possibly, even about the future.


One of the most intriguing elements of Solo was the expansion of the criminal underworld. Crimson Dawn, one of five major crime families in the galactic universe, reared its ugly head for the first time in this movie but its certain to not be the last we’ll see of them.

“Potentially one would think it might be kind of interesting to see what a war amongst the Syndicates looks like. There’s nothing concrete there, but that’s interesting territory. In what movie and through which character’s perspective that might emerge… I think everybody feels like that’s rich territory to explore in the movie universe.”


Several organizations have already been introduced in canon tie-in novels and comics and a scrapped video game at one point was going to explore the seedy underbelly of Star Wars more thoroughly but is it possible that another spin-off film will bring this conflict to a head? And could that head be hidden underneath a Mandalorian helmet?



One head we won’t be seeing much of anymore is that of Dryden Voss. After being bested by his top lieutenant, Dryden was swiftly replaced within Crimson Dawn. While his fate may have always remained the same, his character changed drastically throughout the course of filming. Originally portrayed by The Wire actor Michael K. Williams, Dryden was rumored to be a half lion figure who evoked more of a Beauty and the Beast feel regarding his relationship with Qi’ra. When Ron Howard came on as director, Paul Bettany was cast instead and Dryden’s furry mane was replaced with facial scars that pulsed and darkened based on his mood.

“He was also so handsome and charismatic that we wanted to make him a little scarier, and actually went back and added the scene where you can see him hands-on killing a governor… He’s like one of those animals that changes colors and can’t help it, like a mood stone.”


Dryden’s facial scars have been added in post-production but there was one character who already had his own facial marks ready to go from the start: Darth Maul. Revealed to be the true power behind Crimson Dawn, the believed-dead Sith Lord was a major shock to fans and moviegoers alike. But he wasn’t always the first choice. That distinction belongs to Tatooine’s finest: Jabba the Hutt.

“Jabba was on the list but they kind of knew they didn’t want to go that way because it would be sort of funny, and maybe a little bit too much like sequel-baiting.”



Jabba and Boba Fett may have been on the shortlist of people that fans expected to pop up in Solo: A Star Wars Story but there is one person that could have been an even greater surprise: Tom Hanks. Yes, THAT Tom Hanks. He and Ron Howard have a long history of working together – The Da Vinci Code, Splash, Apollo 13 – and this could have been another entry into that list. Tom Hanks had even chosen who he wanted to play.

“Tom Hanks wanted to be a stormtrooper, but I couldn’t get him. He wasn’t available. That would have been great. I didn’t even know if he really meant it, but he said that he’d love to come and be a stormtrooper but it didn’t quite ever happen. Maybe next time.”


With the general love and enthusiasm he has shown towards Star Wars, one can only hope that we’ll see Ron Howard back in that galaxy far far away sometime soon.


Read the rest of this informative interview here where Ron Howard goes on to talk about the possibility of Lando rebuilding L3, adding the monster to the Kessel Run sequence and being the creative force behind that shower scene between Han and Chewbacca.



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Under the twin suns of Los Angeles, Chris continues to mourn the loss of Admiral Ackbar while championing the rights of Ewoks everywhere. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Chri5Manning for all your pun needs.

Chris Manning

Under the twin suns of Los Angeles, Chris continues to mourn the loss of Admiral Ackbar while championing the rights of Ewoks everywhere. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Chri5Manning for all your pun needs.