LOS ANGELES, May 11 (Reuters) - The latest "Star Wars" movie did not have a smooth flight to the screen, but the director and cast of "Solo" say the scramble to remake the movie ultimately paid off, with early reaction ahead of the May 25 launch largely positive.
Original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from "Solo: A Star Wars Story" midway through production, and Walt Disney Co asked Ron Howard to come in to oversee extensive reshoots.
The film, which tells the origin story of Han Solo, premiered in Hollywood on Thursday and drew cheers and applause throughout from the crowds in two historic theaters, the first large audiences to see the finished product.
"We went so fast to get the movie ready," Howard said in an interview with Reuters on Friday. "I was really on pins and needles, and I was so gratified to hear laughs and hear cheers in all the places I hoped and I dreamed that they would be. It was a good night. I slept well last night."
Alden Ehrenreich, 28, stepped into the role of cowboy smuggler Han Solo, made famous by Harrison Ford in the original "Star Wars" trilogy that began in 1977. Ehrenreich plays a younger Solo just beginning his pilot training and seeking his own spaceship when he becomes involved in a dangerous mission in the galaxy far, far away.
"Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clarke, who portrays Solo's childhood friend Qi'ra, said the change of directors produced less drama than people may think.
"Something that on paper sounds horrific was not in reality at all for someone who was in it and experienced and was living through it," Clarke said. "Everyone who handled it was seamless and graceful."
Fans around the world have debated how Ehrenreich, little known beyond a well-received performance in quirky 2016 comedy "Hail, Caesar," would handle one of cinema's most loved characters.
Ehrenreich confirmed he had signed a contract to play Solo in three movies and said he was anxious to step into the role again in future installments.
"By the end of the movie, he's more like the guy we know, and that's fun," Ehrenreich said. (Reporting by Rollo Ross, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)