Contrary to reports that indicated Michael K. Williams’ character had been completely cut from the upcoming Han Solo film, a new report — backed up by a tweet from director Ron Howard — suggests Williams was in fact recast, with Marvel Studios alum Paul Bettany filling in to essentially play the exact same character in the Star Wars spinoff.
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Howard, who was brought in to direct the project after the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, posted to Twitter today, indicating that his two-time collaborator — having worked with Bettany on A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code — had joined the cast of the still-untitled Han Solo film.
The Outer Rim just got a little bit wilder #PaulBettany #ForceFriday pic.twitter.com/KzuAwhcIXy
— Ron Howard (@RealRonHoward) September 1, 2017
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While the tweet gives no specifics as to Bettany’s role, /Film reports that — according to sources close to the project — Bettany took over the role initially plated by Williams. The site notes that Howard decided to go with a reliable actor he had already worked with since Williams wasn’t available during reshoots due to scheduling conflicts.
Bettany’s character reportedly has the same name and motivations as Williams’ character, but instead of being a motion-capture alien, will be a human. The site mentions that the visual effects team at ILM likely didn’t have time to create a new alien character from scratch.
“I felt great about what I created with the directors that I worked with,” Williams said upon departing the project. “It is what it is…When Ron Howard got hired to finish out the film, there were some reshoot issues that needed to be done in regards to my character, in order for it to match the new direction which the producers wanted Ron to carry the film in, and that would have required me on a plane a month ago to London, to Pinewood, to do reshoots.”
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As for the nature of Bettany’s character, we only have two pieces of information to go on: He is (or, was) “half-animal” and “kick-ass,” according to Williams.
Based on a script by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, the Han Solo spinoff stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, in addition to Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Woody Harrelson. The as-yet-untitled film is scheduled to hit theaters on May 25, 2018.