UPDATE: Woody Harrelson might have let things slip or could be misinformed. Creative executive Pablo Hidalgo denied that Harrelson was playing the role of Han Solo’s mentor. There has been no official confirmation from Disney/Lucasfilm so take this news with a grain of salt. We’ve included our original article below for posterity.
Woody Harrelson has confirmed he’ll appear in the Star Wars Han Solo spin-off film. He’ll play Han Solo’s mentor Garris Shrike in the film, due to be released in 2018.
Harrelson was asked by Variety if he would be taking on the role of Garris Shrike and after squirming uncomfortably in his seat, eventually replied, “Yeah, I am.”
We already knew that Harrelson was in talks to play the role of mentor to the young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich. We also reported that StarWars.com confirmed his involvement. But it’s the first time he’s personally confirmed his casting and, crucially, the name of his character.
A former bounty hunter turned con man, Shrike assembled a group of orphans to use in his tricks and ruses – one of which was Han Solo. But although Shrike took Solo off the streets and raised him, he would also beat him. Solo eventually ran away from Shrike following an altercation in which his Wookiee mother figure was killed.
After a large bounty is placed on Solo’s head, Shrike pursues his former charge seeking money and revenge.
From what we know about the character of Garris Shrike, it’s clear that Solo learned his roguish ways from his former mentor. There are obvious pointers here as to what shaped Han Solo into the man he became; the Han Solo audiences were first introduced to in Episode IV. However, there’s no indication that the movie will follow the storyline of the book.
In revealing that Garris Shrike will appear in the film, though, it does look like the Han Solo spin off will explore their relationship in a kind of origin story.
The untitled Han Solo spin-off is set before Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a standalone story like Rogue One, which also took place before the events of Episode IV.
Woody Harrelson joins other confirmed cast members Donald Glover, who’s on board to play the young Lando Calrissian, and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke. The film will be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller of the 21 Jump Street film franchise.
If you want to find out more about Garris Shrike, his back story and his relationship with Han Solo, visit the Star Wars Wiki, Wookieepedia.