Alden Ehrenreich on Auditioning for Han Solo and His Early Career Success

Actor Alden Ehrenreich

“Each film and each character is a completely new set of challenges. It doesn’t feel like you can rest on something you may have done well in the past.” – Alden Ehrenreich

Not only did Alden Ehrenreich get cast in a dream role for every young actor — he’ll be playing the younger version of Han Solo in a Star Wars spinoff — he’s been having a dream career so far. Ehreneich was discovered by none other than Steven Spielberg, who saw a very young Ehreneich performing in a comedy video made for a bat mitzvah reception. Since then, Ehreneich has worked with a who’s who of acclaimed directors — Francis Ford Coppola, Park Chan-wook, Woody Allen, the Coen brothers, and Warren Beatty, whose film Rules Don’t Apply stars Ehreneich. On top of all that, getting the opportunity to play Solo is like the icing on an extremely delicious cake. Speaking with Interview magazine, Ehrenreich spoke at length about his early career success — but also made sure to note of his disappointments too.

Ehrenreich reveals that his Star Wars audition process was extensive, but exciting. He says, “I had an audition process that went on for a long time, and I got to spend a lot of time with the guys who are directing the film. Getting to be around them and being around the world a little bit has been the main experience so far. I did my audition on the Millennium Falcon for one of my screen tests, which was pretty cool.” Later, he adds, ” It was pretty fun, because I enjoyed the material a lot. Last year I read for the directors, then came to England and did a test on the Falcon, then came back and did a couple more screen tests in Los Angeles.”

Interview: ‘Beautiful Creatures’ stars Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert talk Getting Cast, Bad Auditions and Vomit

Though Ehrenreich beat out dozens of other hopefuls for the role, he confesses he hasn’t asked why they chose him. He admits, “I avoid any conversation like that. The more ignorant I am about anything that pertains to that, the better. I just don’t think that there’s any way that could be helpful to the work that I do. Each film and each character is a completely new set of challenges. It doesn’t feel like you can rest on something you may have done well in the past.”

In fact, Ehrenreich points out that it’s most actors’ natural inclination to think other actors in the running have a better chance than you do. He says, “You don’t know. Whenever you hear somebody else is auditioning for something, you sort of assume they’re going to get it. You should try to just ignore it. I don’t find it very helpful to know who else is going up for stuff, generally.”

Now that Ehrenreich has also recently completed directing a short film, he also has a better understanding of the auditioning process from the other side. He explains, “I’ve had a couple opportunities where I’ve been on the other side of the audition process as a director, so it’s really reassuring to me that it’s just about who is right for that role and less about if you ace the audition. It’s just about getting to know people, not about who’s a better actor a lot of the time. It’s about who fits that particular suit, you know?”

Of course, though it seems otherwise, Ehrenreich doesn’t land every high-profile he auditions for. For instance, he lost out on the role of Spider-Man when Andrew Garfield was cast in the role. Ehrenreich recalls, “I’ve had that experience many, many, times—when you don’t get roles. I’d developed a good muscle for shaking it off. I buy myself a present whenever I don’t get a role that I really wanted. You get bummed out, and then you go, ‘Oh! Now I get to go buy a present for myself.’ That kind of helps.”

Even if Ehrenreich wasn’t discovered by Spielberg at the fateful bat mitzvah, he believes he would’ve ended up in acting anyway. He explains, ” I feel like I would have ultimately ended up pursuing acting. It probably would have been much more difficult and taken a lot longer for me to get into it professionally. When I was 14 years old, I was by no means trying to work professionally at all. I’m kind of grateful that I didn’t have any real success until I was older and basically out of high school. I think that was a real confidence boost for me, having it all start that way, in that very privileged position of having [Spielberg] vouch for me. But I auditioned for four or five years and didn’t get anything after that. I got turned down for a million jobs until I got my first movie with Francis. I think that having had [Spielberg’s] confidence in me probably made me a little more immune to feeling as bad about myself in the face of rejection. I also was just so young—I was unaware enough to not take it too seriously.”

Having all this success before you turn thirty can seem daunting, so Ehrenreich hopes that he’ll have the opportunity to continue growing in future projects. He says, “Acting-wise, I’ve had all these experiences. Yet when I look at certain people whose careers I admire, they’ve gotten to play so many different characters. So it’s just that—getting to have more of these singular little adventures where you get to be a part of a completely different world. But even a kid, directing was something that I did. I made short films in school. I feel like I’ve been in the best film school in the world, having gotten to work with all these people. Warren was very adamant and very encouraging of me to direct. It’s definitely something that I’d like to pursue more in the future. The biggest challenge to being an actor is when you’re not working, just being unemployed, the downtime and not having anything to do.”

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