Even though we're still nine months away from the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, fans of the space opera franchise are already looking ahead to the next entry in the franchise — the untitled young Han Solo film. Now, with Woody Harrelson spilling details about his Star Wars character in that upcoming spinoff, the fires of excitement will only be stoked even further.
The actor's casting in the Han solo movie was officially announced earlier this year, and, ever since, fans have devoted countless hours and digital ink to speculating over who he might be playing. For a while, according to rumor — and a confusing statement by Harrelson himself — it seemed like he would be portraying Garris Shrike, a character from the Star Wars Expanded Universe. But Harrelson's recent comments on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon appear to have debunked those rumors once and for all.
During an interview this past Wednesday, the actor revealed that, "I play a guy named Beckett who’s kind of a criminal and a mentor to Han." While that's all he was able or willing to say at this point, that one sentence is actually quite revealing. On the one hand, it seems to thoroughly disprove the Garris Shrike theory, since we now know that his character's name is actually Beckett. But, given Harrelson's ensuing description of Beckett, it's quite possible that his character is at least partially inspired by Garris.
The character was a major figure in the 1997 novel The Paradise Snare, the first in a trilogy that purported to tell Han Solo's origin story; if Harrelson hadn't named Beckett, but had only described him as "a criminal and a mentor," you would have assumed he was talking about Garris Shrike. The man was a former bounty hunter who took in orphans — like young Han — and trained them in the ways of crime and smuggling. Garris' relationship with Solo was a strange one, alternating between father figure and abusive master.
Eventually, when Han decided he wanted to leave Garris' company, the ensuing confrontation left Garris' brother wounded and Han's mother figure dead. Much later, when Han's smuggling activities led to a bounty being placed on his head, Garris returned to his career as a bounty hunter in order to hunt down and kill his former protégé — but wound up killed by a competing bounty hunter instead.
Given that the entire Expanded Universe was rebranded as Star Wars: Legends after Disney bought Lucasfilm, and all its many storylines and characters demoted to non-canon status, it's no surprise that Harrelson isn't literally playing Garris Shrike. But so far, from what little we've heard of Beckett, it seems clear that the character was at least in part inspired by Garris. If so, it will be interesting to see Alden Ehrenreich and Harrelson face off as young Han and his mentor-turned-enemy.