Saturday, May 7, 2016

What's the big deal about Alden Ehrenreich?

If you're having to learn a new name today, you shouldn't be.

Sure, Alden Ehrenreich has just been cast as Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars universe prequel slated for 2018. But even before that, it seemed as though he was all anyone could talk about after they saw Hail, Caesar! (No, that sentence is not punctuated by enthusiasm -- the title has an exclamation point in it.)

I was not a big fan of Hail, Caesar!, as we already covered in this post. But when discussing it afterward with my equally disenchanted viewing companion, I did mention a few scenes I thought were really entertaining. I mentioned the Scarlett Johansson mermaid number and the Channing Tatum sailor number.

I did not mention Alden Ehrenreich, but not just because I didn't know his name. He simply didn't make an impression on me. I didn't think he had much charisma, and only part of that was the fact that he was playing a character without much charisma. He just simply didn't register. Or rather, the only reason he registered was that he was the only cast member I didn't recognize.

So it was with some amount of surprise that I noticed people whose movie views I respect stumbling over themselves to praise Ehrenreich, and the movie around him. In fact, even those who were a bit more lukewarm on the movie couldn't stop talking about the star-making performance Ehrenreich gave.

Did I miss something?

Oh, he's handsome enough. But that alone won't take you very far in Hollywood. You have to have a star quality, and I just didn't see it in Ehrenreich. Clearly, everyone else did, including Disney, who just made him Han Solo.

I suppose part of the reason I'm disappointed in this development is that I still had hopes for one Anthony Ingruber, the guy known as "that guy who does a dead-on Harrison Ford impersonation." Not only are Ingruber's Youtube videos incredible, but he actually gave quite a charismatic performance as a young version of Ford's character in last year's The Age of Adaline. In short, I'm in the bag for this guy.

I can see why Disney didn't consider Ingruber famous enough or probably talented enough to play the role, and in fact, I don't even think he was one of the finalists. But it's not like Ehrenreich is significantly more experienced, or as far as I can tell, more talented. You try to grab these guys on the way up, so by the time your movie comes out, they are famous and they function as a box office draw in and of themselves. And I suppose Ehrenreich is more likely to be that guy than Ingruber.

And sure, Ingruber's Ford impersonation is probably more of a party trick than something you can bank on. Besides, in movies like this, you want the actor to make the character their own, rather than just use an impersonation as a crutch. But even in terms of straight charisma, I give Ingruber the edge over Ehrenreich.

I didn't get Hail, Caesar! and I don't get Alden Ehrenreich.

Hopefully, I'll be on the same page as the rest of you by the time Han Solo comes out.


Wendell Ottley said...

Haven't seen Age of Adaline or Hail Caesar! yet so I don't have a take on it one way or the other. Judging from the pics of Mr. Ehrenreich, I can see why he got the part. However, I agree that doesn't usually take you very far. Hopefully, they saw something you didn't and he gives us a great Han Solo.

Derek Armstrong said...

I'm sure he'll be fine. Thanks for the comment!

Joanne O'Dwyer said...

I completely agree with you - I was so excited when I saw Ingruber's video impersonating Ford as Solo - as an old school Star Wars nut, I honestly got chills watching it. I know the physical resemblance to a past character is probably a low brow requirement in the acting world - but this is Star Wars - it's a kids movie - and the visuals are everything. I'm sure Ehrenreich is a fine actor - but a little part of me is so disappointed that the new, young Han Solo won't look the part as much as he COULD have!

Derek Armstrong said...

And given the documented problems the film has had, maybe they should switch up the lead actor as well? In the time since I wrote this, I have come around to the idea that Ehrenreich fits the part well enough, but your comment prompted me to watch Anthony Ingruber's video again and I became convinced again of his rightness for the part. Oh well. Thanks for the comment!