The release date for Solo: A Star Wars Story is racing towards us at light speed, and we’re ready. The film tells the story of Han Solo’s early days as a smuggler, and reveals how he met Lando Calrissian and came into possession of the Millennium Falcon.
Alden Ehrenreich plays Han Solo, while Donald Glover steps into Lando’s cape and Joonas Suotamo continues his run as Chewbacca, having taken over the role from Peter Mayhew in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.But there are new characters in the film, too – here’s a primer on all the newcomers to Solo’s story.
Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson)
This criminal has been looking for a big score, and in Solo he finally gets his chance. He pulls together a team, and ends up as a mentor figure to Han. Long John Silver from Treasure Island was the original inspiration for Beckett, which tells you that we can expect Harrelson’s character to be cunning, opportunistic – and perhaps surprisingly caring towards Han.
Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke)
The name “Kira” has floated through the Star Wars development process for years – it was once Rey’s name! This particular Qi’ra, however, is quite a bit different from Rey. Like Han, she grows up on the streets of Corellia, and like Han she got in deep with a local criminal element – which creates a friendship between her and our favorite rogue. Qi’ra’s path was different from Han’s, and when we meet her she seems to be more glamorous and powerful than you’d expect. What we really want to know is what happens between the two characters to pull her out of Han’s life.
Val (Thandie Newton)
One of the people in Beckett’s crew is Val, who has worked with the pirate-like leader for some time before the film’s story opens. She isn’t as keen on Han as Beckett is at first, but the pair’s relationship, according to co-writer Jon Kasdan, goes in an “interesting direction.”
L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge)
Every Star Wars film needs one great humanoid droid, and that’s where Lando’s droid companion L3-37 comes into the picture. Her name is a play on the old Internet L337 slang (“L337” = leet = elite) and she’s the first explicitly female droid in the franchise’s long history. L3-37 has improved her own structure over the years by repairing herself and adding or improving parts as she goes – she’s not a stock model, so there’s nothing else like her in the galaxy. Like K-2SO in Rogue One, she’ll offer a lot of comic relief.
Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau)
This four-armed Ardennian is a pilot who works with Tobias Beckett. He’s mostly a mysterious figure, but Ron Howard has called him “a very cool & important alien character.”
Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany)
This crime lord was originally played by Michael K. Williams, but was recast with Paul Bettany when extensive reshoots changed the film’s schedule, for which Williams was unavailable. (Bettany co-starred in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.) Originally the character was mostly CGI, but now Bettany plays him as a scarred man who ruthlessly leads a group ominously called Crimson Dawn – beyond that we don’t actually know much about the character.
Finally, an unknown actor plays villain Enfys Nest, a space pirate and potentially the film’s big antagonist. The pirate leads the Cloud Riders, basically a space biker gang with roots in the old Expanded Universe set of Star Wars stories that new films have mostly cast aside.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens on May 25.