One of the coolest things that can happen in Los Angeles is when a bunch of celebrities get together and do things for fun that people can go watch. Vague sentence, but that’s often as much of a primer as you get for some of these events. Jason Reitman (director of Juno and Up in the Air doncha know) has been doing a thing of this nature called “Live Reads” where he gets a group of fantastic actors to do a, get this, live reading of a screenplay of a classic, beloved film. And he often times casts people who wouldn’t normally be cast in a remounting. For instance, in the past he’s done a reading of Reservoir Dogs featuring an all-black cast including Laurence Fishburne, Terrence Howard, and Cuba Gooding Jr, as well as Glengarry Glen Ross featuring only women, like Robin Wright, Catherine O’Hara, and Carla Gugino.
Well, Mr. Reitman’s changed things up again with his upcoming reading of the greatest of the “Galaxy Far, Far Away” saga, The Empire Strikes Back, which will be staged tonight at 8:00pm at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. While he’s cast Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, and Jessica Alba as Princess Leia, he’s given the role of scruffy-looking nerf-herder Han Solo to Ellen Page.
In an interview about the casting with Entertainment Weekly, Reitman says that Solo is the audience’s gateway character and he needed an actor who could best portray the space pirate’s sense of humor and general feeling toward everything. “With him, we feel like we have an ally in this, and it allows the viewer to get closer to Luke and Leia,” he says. “In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life? And when I think of that, I think of Ellen Page. She’s a small human being who has the energy to fill Madison Square Garden.”
This is one of the coolest ideas in a long time. Page certainly has the attitude to play Han Solo and the quiet badassery to pull off the immortal “I know” line from the film’s third act. In fact, all of the romantic interplay between Han and Leia will be particularly interesting to watch on stage now, and you know what – it probably won’t change the dynamic of the story in the least.
Also cast in the reading are Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollak as Yoda and a number of other characters. The show tonight is sold out, but for information and tickets to future events, visit Film Independent’s website.
Let us know what you think of this casting? What other unconventional choices could you make for the Star Wars saga?