Explanation of Why The Firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller Came So Late in the HAN SOLO Production
Thanks to some additional information from Entertainment Weekly we have a better idea of what was going on behind-the-scenes, which corroborates some of the rumors that have been going around. It's been confirmed from various other sources that there were issues with too much comedy in the film, deviation from the script, and more. The report also offers an explanation as to why the decision to fire directors came so late into production. That's something a lot of fans have been wondering because there was only about three-and-a-half more weeks of shooting left.
"Several sources close to the movie and others close to the directors tell EW that ever since filming began back in February, Lord and Miller, who are known primarily for wry, self-referential comedies like 21 Jump Street and the pilot episodes for Brooklyn 99 and Last Man on Earth, began steering the Han Solo movie more into the genre of laughs than space fantasy."
It's explained that there was some kind of miscommunication when Lucasfilm hired Lord and Miller to direct the film. Kathleen Kennedy believed the two directors were hired "to add a comedic touch"; Lord and Miller, however, believed they were hired "to make a comedy". This issue became magnified over time. The report goes on to say:
"As usual with stories like this, not all sources agree. Another individual close to the movie says it wasn’t a question about how much comedy would be in the film. The consensus [from sources], however, is that the filmmakers were encouraging significant improvisation from the actors, which some at Lucasfilm believed was shifting the story off course."
Over the course of the production, Lord and Miller pushed forward with the comedic vision of the film they wanted to make and in the end, they weren't willing to compromise. The reason it took so long for Lucasfilm to fire them was because the studio was actually trying to work with them. Obviously, it wasn't working and in the process, the story that Lawrence Kasdan wrote started to change significantly. The report goes on to explain:
"But others on the project say they pushed too far. It wasn’t just a question of tone. The variations added up to significantly change the story. They may have been brought aboard to give young Han Solo a wiseacre vibe and an irreverent style, but Lucasfilm still felt the directors had a responsibility to tell the story as written.
"When dailies began rolling in featuring improvisation from the actors and new ideas from the directors that significantly parted ways with the script, the relationship with the home office at Lucasfilm became fraught. As principal photography for the movie approached its end, it became clear that the filmmakers and producers did not share the same vision for some critical scenes.
"Reshoots were always possible (they are factored into almost every major film these days, and each new Star Wars project has undergone them), but as Lord and Miller dug in, refusing to compromise on what they saw as best for the film, the partnership went from strained to fractured. If they wouldn’t do the scenes as Lucasfilm and Kennedy wanted them now, why would they do them that way during reshoots?"
Damn. It sounds like this was just a huge issue with communication and compromise. Everyone had their own agenda in what they wanted from the film, and in the end, the only opinion that matters is what Lucasfilm wanted. Lord and Miller weren't giving that to them even though it seemed like Lucasfilm gave them every opportunity to get in line with what was written in the script.
As much as I enjoy the films of Lord and Miller and I think they're talented as hell, I have to side with Lucasfilm on this. I trust that Lawrence Kasdan wrote a solid script for this character, and that script is the Han Solo movie that I want to see. It's perfectly fine to have touches of humor throughout the story, but I don't want to see a full blown Han Solo comedy, and from everything we've heard that's where it was headed.
If the filmmakers were refusing to make the movie Lucasfilm expected, why continue to work with them? In the end, Kennedy made a decision that she felt was best for the film.