Everyone loves Han Solo. He made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, his best friend is a furry oaf, he hates odds, and at one point he was going to be a green-skinned fish monster. On the eve of Harrison Ford’s 73rd birthday (July 13), and following the news that everyone’s favorite Corellian smuggler/pilot will be getting a standalone movie, here are some amazing facts about Han Solo.
1. EVERYONE WANTS TO BE HAN.
Ask any actor playing an adventurer who his or her biggest inspiration is and you'll probably hear "Han Solo." Both Chris Pine as Captain Kirk in Star Trek and Chris Pratt as Peter Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy say that Han Solo had a major influence on their characters.
2. HAN’S GOT A HEART OF GOLD.
Despite his swagger and devil-may-care attitude, Han met his partner in crime, Chewbacca, by having a heart of gold. Han met Chewbacca on a slave ship, where he was instructed to skin the Wookiee by a commanding officer. When he refused, Chewbacca swore a “life-debt” to Han—and the rest is history.
3. OF COURSE HAN SHOT FIRST.
You’ve probably seen the phrase “Han Shot First” on the T-shirt of a Star Wars fan. It’s a reference to a scene in Star Wars where Han casually shoots Greedo, one of Jabba the Hutt’s bounty hunters. Director George Lucas later said it was an act of self-defense, and when an altered version of the movie was released in 1997, the magic of moviemaking and a couple of digital effects backed up Lucas’s assertion. But that’s not what happened in the 1977 film. And when the original script for Star Wars made its way to the Internet, it was clear that Han shot Greedo first, and unprovoked.
4. HAN IS PARTIALLY BASED ON FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA.
Harrison Ford isn’t the only Hollywood legend with whom Han Solo shares some character traits. Lucas was so impressed with Francis Ford Coppola’s swagger and smooth-talking skills on the set of Apocalypse Now that he wrote some of that charm into Han as well.
5. A NUMBER OF WELL-KNOWN ACTORS WERE CONSIDERED FOR THE PART.
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo, but he wasn’t the only name on the list of actors the filmmakers considered. Al Pacino, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, and Kurt Russell (whose audition tape you can see here) are among the other actors who could’ve played Han.
6. HAN WAS ALMOST KILLED BY “TEDDY BEARS.”
At the end of Return of the Jedi, Ford though it would be best if Han was killed, stating “I thought it would give more weight and resonance. But George Lucas wasn’t sympathetic. He didn’t want me killed by those teddy bear guys.” (We think you mean Ewoks, Harrison.)
7. HAN SOLO WAS A RECURRING CHARACTER ON FIREFLY.
At least if you look closely enough. Firefly’s set designers hid a model of Han frozen in carbonite in multiple scenes throughout the show’s short-lived run.
8. HAN’S KID IS A SITH LORD.
In addition to countless works of fan fiction, Han Solo has a life outside the movies via several books, including Brian Daley's The Han Solo Adventures and Timothy Zahn's The Thrawn Trilogy, that expand upon the Star Wars universe, where Han and Leia are married with three kids. In 1994's The Last Command, Zahn introduces one of their kids, Jacen Solo, who ends up becoming a Sith Lord.
9. HAN WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A GREEN-SKINNED FISH MONSTER.
Lucas originally wanted Han Solo to be a large, green, gilled fish monster. Fortunately, he had worked with Ford on American Graffiti and eventually realized it may be best to have Han be human, and as such changed the character's description to a “young Corellian pirate.”
10. FORD HAD A PROBLEM WITH HAN’S DIALOGUE.
Harrison Ford once famously complained to George Lucas about his dialogue in the most Han way possible, stating, “George, you can type this sh**, but you sure as hell can’t say it.” That may be why Solo’s response of “I know” to Leia’s “I love you,” in The Empire Strikes Back was ad-libbed by Ford.