Woody Harrelson first learned that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directors of his new untitled Star Wars film, had been fired when he got a call from producer Allison Shearmur, the two-time Oscar nominee told The Hollywood Reporter.
“Alli gave me the word,” he said, speaking last week by telephone from New York, where he was doing press for his upcoming release, War for the Planet of the Apes.
Lord and Miller were let go mid-June, four months into production, because of what Lucasfilm noted were “different creative visions on this film,” in which Harrelson plays the mentor to a young Han Solo. They were replaced by Ron Howard.
Harrelson pointed out that he and Howard previously worked together on 1999’s EDtv. “He’s a wonderful guy,” he said.
He noted that Howard quickly came onboard for a one-day shoot for Star Wars, before a forced pause. “We did shoot one day with him,” he said, explaining that “we had to shoot because Thandie [Newton] had to leave.”
Harrelson said shooting was due to resume July 12.
Earlier, during a mid-May interview for this week’s THR cover story, the actor spoke highly of Lord and Miller. Noting that he at first had turned down the Star Wars role, he said it was Shearmur who persuaded him to say yes, just as she had when she served as an executive on The Hunger Games.
“I turned [the role] down twice, too,” he explained, “and the same person, Alli, wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
As to the process of reading the script, he said: “Definitely [Star Wars] has more secrecy than anything ever. You get an e-reader; you don’t get a script. They give it to you, and you give it back after you read it. But I was like, ‘I’ve got to be with my family, I got to go home.’ I’d been home in Maui one week since November. But I met with [Lord and Miller] one night, and we hung out and we went over to [publicist and Harrelson friend] Matthew Freud’s and played ping-pong and just had a great time. They were really good guys. I’ve been enjoying it [since then], especially because we just went to [shoot in the Dolomites] in Italy. Thandie Newton said, ‘It’s like being at camp ’cause you got everybody together,’ and we had a couple of epic parties.”
Asked last week how he felt the director replacement would impact the film, he added: “I think I read some stuff where people were worried about the fate of this movie. I wouldn’t worry. The Force is still very much with it.”