Ellen Page has been cast in the role of Han Solo (keep reading…) in director Jason Reitman’s Thursday-night live stage reading of The Empire Strikes Back at the Ace Hotel Theater in downtown Los Angeles, with Jessica Alba playing opposite her as Princess Leia.
According to EW, the point of Reitman’s live-read series is to “take classic scripts and turn them into something we’ve never seen before”, and “about experimenting with perceptions and expectations, and encouraging fans to consider the story and characters in different ways — even if they’re only hearing about the performance from afar."
Casting his Juno star as the pilot who made the Kessel run in 12 Parsecs certainly fits that bill .
“The Han Solo character is fascinating in that the approach to every other character in Star Wars is earnest and kind of sweet and old-fashioned,” Reitman explained to EW. “The heroes are heroes, and the villains are villains. And within this world, we’re introduced to one human being who looks at it all with irony. He’s the guy who doesn’t give a crap.”
The director goes on to say without Han Solo, it’d be easy for moviegoers to look at Star Wars with cynical eyes, with him in their corners viewers can better accept the more earnest Luke and Leia.
“In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life?” Reitman explained. “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.”
And as to Alba’s Leia chemistry opposite Page’s Han: “Chemistry is chemistry, whether it be between a man and a woman, two women, or two men,” Reitman said. “I have no doubt that Ellen Page could have chemistry with anybody.”
Page and Alba will be joined by Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollak as Yoda (and reportedly other assorted characters).
None of Reitman’s live readings have been recorded and are designed as one-night-only experiences.