Alden Ehrenreich is on the cusp of becoming an instant superstar.
In Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply, Ehrenreich shines as a go-getter chauffeur working for Howard Hughes whose straight-laced life begins to unravel after he breaks the rules and falls for one of the many aspiring actresses (Lily Collins) on Hughes' payroll. Between his dashing good looks and addictive charisma, Ehrenreich steals much of the film, leaving no doubt this kid is ready for his greatest challenge as an actor yet: playing a younger version of beloved Star Wars character Han Solo in a standalone movie due out in 2018.
When Fandango sat down to chat with Ehrenreich about Rules Don't Apply and his evolving career, we couldn't help but ask about the enormity of taking on such an iconic role. And what we learned was that it was actually a joke about a scene in a classic sports movie that truly helped put everything in perspective for the future Star Wars actor.
"[The film's codirector] Phil Lord made a joke and it turned out, for me, it was not a joke," Ehrenreich said when we asked about the moment he first stepped onboard the Millennium Falcon. "He said this is like that scene in Hoosiers where [Gene Hackman] takes the kids out to the basket — and I'm gonna botch this line — but he says something like, 'How many feet up is that basket? 10 feet. And how many feet is it back home? It's the same.' [Phil] said that as we were walking up the ramp, and it helped."
The Hoosiers scene in question (watch it above) takes place when the basketball team arrive at a massive gym that will host the championship game. In order to help the players calm their nerves, Coach Dale (Hackman) takes out a tape measure to check the distance between the floor and the hoop, pointing out that it's the same distance as it is back at their tiny hometown gym.
"[Phil] saying that really meant a lot to me, and it clues you in to the fact that this is the same job," Ehrenreich said. "This is the job you get to do."
And part of that job includes getting to work on a set that he's known all his life, ever since he was a little kid pretending to be the character he's about to play for real.
"What's odd about [being on the Millennium Falcon] is that it's all so familiar," Ehrenreich said. "I mean I've known it since I was a kid — I played make-believe as a kid, pretending that I was on it. So the fact that I already know the world so well, there's a comfort in that and a real excitement. I mean I got to work with Chewbacca for my screen test. I can't think of another form of transportation that is so beloved in film."
We'll have more with Ehrenreich on playing Han Solo, as well as what it was like working for five years with Warren Beatty on Rules Don't Apply, as we approach that film's November 23 release.