Has Disney cast an actor as Han Solo for a 'Star Wars' spin-off movie?

Reports say Disney has found its lead for the upcoming film, which will be released in 2018. Han Solo was originally portrayed by actor Harrison Ford in the original 'Star Wars' trilogy and in 2015's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.'

Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Actor Alden Ehrenreich, whom reports say has been tapped for Han Solo for an upcoming film on the "Star Wars" character, poses for a portrait in Los Angeles

Will actor Alden Ehrenreich take on the famous role of "Star Wars" smuggler Han Solo?

Variety reports that Mr. Ehrenreich has officially been cast in the role for an upcoming film about the adventures of Han before the audience first meets him in the 1977 "Star Wars" film. 

Various actors had been rumored to be frontrunners for the role. Phil Lord and Chris Miller of "The LEGO Movie" are directing the movie about Han. The Han Solo movie is set to be released in 2018. A "Star Wars" movie centering on new characters, titled "Rogue One," will come out this December. A sequel to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will follow in 2017.

Ehrenreich is likely most recognized for his turn in this year's Coen brothers movie "Hail, Caesar!," in which he played an actor working in the 1950s who is known for his Western films. In addition to that project, he also appeared in the 2013 movie "Beautiful Creatures" and 2013’s "Blue Jasmine." 

Critics praised his work in "Hail, Caesar!," with Associated Press writer Lindsey Bahr writing of the actor's turn in the film, "It's the kind of out-of-nowhere, star-making, steals-scenes-from-[George-]Clooney performance that makes you want to know where you've seen him before and when you might get to again. It's no wonder that the 26-year-old, who's been compared to everyone from Jack Nicholson to Leonardo DiCaprio, has already caught the attention of the [Coen brothers], Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, and Warren Beatty." (He's also set to star in a movie directed by Mr. Beatty.)

The smuggler Han Solo has become one of the most popular characters in the "Star Wars" film series since he first appeared onscreen as played by Mr. Ford in 1977. Disney is obviously betting that fan interest in the character is enough to bring moviegoers in to see a film about just him. What is it about the character that interests viewers? 

Telegraph writer Mark Monahan picked Han as the best character to appear in the films and he says it's all because of Ford's performance. "Harrison Ford's contribution to the first three films cannot be overstated," Mr. Monahan writes. "To what might otherwise have been a rather earnest enterprise, he brought bucketloads of cocky charisma, his smug smuggler forming two unlikely but entertaining partnerships [with characters Chewbacca and Princess Leia]."

Rolling Stone writer Russ Fischer also selected Han as the best character in the films, writing that the combination of tropes Han represents appeals to viewers. 

"Han Solo is far more than a smug swashbuckler," Mr. Fischer writes. "The scoundrel-turned Rebel leader may not be George Lucas's most unique creation, but the Falcon's scrappy flyboy is the original trilogy's most vital asset. Harrison Ford's classic masculinity and lopsided grin, worn with the casual flair of a man utterly at ease in the galaxy, made him a premiere heartthrob and the lifeblood of the franchise's holy trinity. Solo is the Western hero, the noir detective, and the hot-rodding rebel rolled into one."

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