When you first heard of Alden Ehrenreich, you may have asked yourself: Is that an IKEA product? Thankfully, the actor has far more talent and charisma, he made an impression on Hollywood well before Solo with a short but respectable resume.
So, who is Ehrenreich, and how did he come to embody our favorite scruffy-headed nerf herder? Let’s find out.
Ehrenreich, who is 29, is an L.A. native, but didn’t grow up with ties to the entertainment industry. He got his first name from Phil Alden Robinson, who directed Field of Dreams, and showed interest in acting from a young age.
In fact, he caught the attention of one Steven Spielberg after making a silly video for a friend’s bar mitzvah.
“It’s a piece of shit,” Ehrenreich told Rolling Stone in 2016. “It’s a video that this girl asked us to do. I mean, there wasn’t a script: We would go and just film whatever made us laugh.”
Spielberg got him an agent and Ehrenreich got some TV roles, including CSI and Supernatural before starting at New York University.
Ehrenreich as Ben Collins in ‘Supernatural’ ep. 102 ‘Wendigo.’
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Image: mashable composite/cw via netflix
“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,” Ehrenreich told Interview in 2016 (he experienced several years of failed auditions). “I also was just so young – I was unaware enough to not take it too seriously.”
He continued acting several short films, with early features Tetro and Twixt from director Francis Ford Coppola. He had a small role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, and a lead in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply. After being told he initially wasn’t right for the role, Ehrenreich got a part in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! and all but stole the show.
Though still not a household name, Ehrenreich earned attention when he made the rumored shortlist to play young Han Solo. He tested with the directors – the later-ousted Phil Lord and Chris Miller – and in England, on the Millennium Falcon. As a longtime Star Wars fan, it was a treat for him.
Now, in the week of Solo‘s release, Ehrenreich is earning favorable reviews for slipping into Harrison Ford’s beloved space boots without directly impersonating or completely reimagining the character. Like Han, our new hero comes from humble origins and is poised to become an icon.