A Chat With Anthony Ingruber About Star Wars and Casting Young Han Solo

One of the hottest roles that will be cast sometime in 2016 is that of young Han Solo in the second Star Wars Anthology film. This actor, whoever he may be, will be required to portray the infamous smuggler several years before he meets a desperate Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in an old Mos Eisley spaceport cantina.

The first name you think of having portrayed young Harrison Ford is the late River Phoenix. In 1989 at the age of 19, River pulled off an even younger Indiana Jones in the prologue sequence to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Another name making waves is that of Anthony Ingruber, an up-and-coming actor who you may or may not know recently played the younger version of a Harrison Ford character on the big screen. That role alone should put him in the cross hairs of Lucasfilm during the casting process that is already underway.

I recently had a chance to send Anthony some questions about the hunt for Han Solo and Star Wars in general and his answers will take you inside the psyche of the guy vying to become the scruffy looking nerf herder. The answer to the first question may be the most telling despite having the fewest words.

There’s a big elephant standing in the corner that’s making me uncomfortable so let’s clear him out right off the bat. Can you confirm or deny having auditioned for the part of young Han Solo in the Star Wars Han Solo Anthology film?

Unfortunately, I am unable to comment.

Let’s jump back to March 31, 2008. You uploaded a Harrison Ford as Han Solo impersonation video to YouTube that has since racked up over 673,000 views. What was your motivation for recording and sharing that video? Was it just for kicks or something more?

I was lucky enough to be working at Weta Workshop in New Zealand in my final year of High School and it was there that I discovered just how much I love cinema.  Seeing the talent behind those amazing films inspired me and made me want to become involved.  My skills were more towards performing rather than digital or make up effects, so I made a DVD of various impressions that I was working on through High School, such as Harrison Ford and Jack Nicholson, and gave it to Sir Richard Taylor, the head of Weta and a five time Academy Award winner.  He really enjoyed them and encouraged me to pursue a career in film. But it was actually my mother who suggested posting the impressions on YouTube to get some opinions and feedback and it snowballed from there.

I first saw that video around roughly the same time you were cast in The Age of Adaline to play a younger version of Harrison Ford’s William Jones character. Did you reach out to the casting director or did they find you first with the help of the YouTube video or tip from an acquaintance?

Actually the Director, Lee Toland Krieger, and Lionsgate reached out to me after Lee did a Google image search of Harrison Ford in his early years and my video popped up.  The initial audition information was pretty vague, but then Lee contacted me and explained what it was all about and how excited he was to have found me.  I think the time frame for all that was only two weeks or so, going from YouTube to playing my childhood hero in a major film.

Anthony Ingruber Age of Adaline

When did you first meet Harrison Ford in person and how did that first meeting go?

I didn’t think I would get to meet Harrison as we don’t actually appear in any scenes together, so we never worked on the same set.  However, the crew (who I am forever indebted to) knew that I was a huge fan of his and were genuinely interested in seeing Harrison’s reaction to meeting me, so they organized a meeting.  After Harrison wrapped production and after I had just filmed the scene where he looks out the window and sees me on the bicycle, everyone poured out of the house and waited with their cameras.  It was an amazing moment for me and something I will always remember. Funnily enough, the meeting is discussed in the DVD bonus features and our picture together was used for promotional material for the film.

Did you talk with Harrison about being interested in portraying a young Han Solo, or even a young Indiana Jones, at any time during The Age of Adaline shoot?

Honestly I was just doing my best to avoid fainting or saying something silly…it was all a bit of a blur really. But it was a magic moment. What I do recall is how very kind he was.

I’m sure you’ve read The Hollywood Reporter’s recent article that calls out 10 actors as having auditioned or sent in tapes for young Han Solo, correct? Were you surprised not to see your name mentioned?

Yes I read the recent Hollywood Reporter article. If true, having 2,500 actors auditioning is amazing, although it underlines the importance of the role. Not being mentioned was a little surprising given the amount of speculation and media articles connecting me with the role. I initially didn’t think much about it, but my Twitter exploded with messages supporting me for the role.

Anthony Ingruber Age of Adaline

Those actors have all appeared in fairly high profile TV and film projects. Yet it was relative unknowns in Daisy Ridley and John Boyega that scored The Force Awakens leads, not established names. Would you consider yourself the dark horse going up against higher profile actors caught in a wide casting net, and if so, do you think that gives you an edge?

The fact that relative unknowns were chosen in The Force Awakens is a good sign that casting is open to hiring the best people for a particular role, rather than just going with a big name actor.  I do think it’s important to get the most authentic and believable candidate to play this iconic role. Someone who can also add something new and exciting that will resonate with audiences.

You must also feel great seeing your name pop up repeatedly in comments on that article. There seems to be a swelling fan push to get you the part.

It has been an amazing experience to get so many wonderfully supportive comments from lifetime Star Wars fans. In fact, my browser has had difficulties at times in keeping up with the flow of messages from around the world. I am very grateful for that support and for the loyal fans that I have. That support is all the more remarkable because I am still a relative newcomer.

Obviously playing young Han Solo would be the role of a lifetime and there’s no arguing you look and sound the part. If I were the casting director for argument’s sake, what else would you tell me that would convince me you’re the guy best suited to get on Boba Fett’s bad side?

I honestly wouldn’t attempt this if I didn’t think that I was right for the part, or that I would disappoint the fans. One of the funny things about my role in The Age of Adaline was that I wasn’t actually given any dialogue to work with. There was only one line in which I ask Blake Lively her name, but otherwise I was given free reign.  For an unknown actor, playing a legend like Harrison Ford and being trusted by the Director to make something special was a huge challenge, but something that I really enjoyed. And fortunately the producers and fans enjoyed the result.

Given the chance, I know that I could do so much more. But a Casting Director, like yourself, is not interested in my ambitions or claims. But rather in what I bring to a role, how I interpret the Director’s instructions, how I bring the character alive, and how that connects with the audience. One fan put it rather humorously when he said that I had already auditioned for Han Solo and that audition was called The Age of Adaline. That cracked me up.

Anthony Ingruber Age of Adaline

You were born in 1990 and that would put you at only nine years old when The Phantom Menace was released. Did you see that film or any of the Prequels in cinemas and if so, do you consider those your Star Wars films or do you relate more to the Original Trilogy?

I actually saw all the prequels in the cinema as they were released, but I was already a huge Star Wars fan since I was 6 years old or even younger.  I knew it was a special thing seeing the prequels in the cinema, as I wasn’t around to see the originals the way they were meant to be seen.  I think both the prequels and the original series are special to me for different reasons.

What’s your preferred order to watch all six current Star Wars films?

I have never really had a “marathon” session with the films. I first watched them in a random order when I was a kid and now I would watch one of the films but rewind and watch my favorite scene multiple times whilst impersonating the entire cast, dubbing over it and having a good laugh. In fact there are various Star Wars films where I know virtually all the dialogue, which can be a little disconcerting for people watching the movies with me.

I’m a big Star Wars fan and have even modeled my home office to resemble Jabba’s Palace. Have you collected any Star Wars memorabilia or do you plan on starting with The Force Awakens?

I’ve got 4 boxes of Lego which are mostly Star Wars related and lots of action figures of various characters.  I’ve also got the original marvel comic adaptions of the films, as well as the hilarious non-canon spin offs.

Anthony, best of luck in winning the role of young Han Solo. We’re pulling for you at TheHDRoom and judging by your Twitter feed, many other fans around the world are in your corner as well.

Thanks very much for your support. I really appreciate it.

Anthony Ingruber Han Solo

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