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Alden Ehrenreich on Making ‘Oppenheimer,’ Life After ‘Solo,’ and Returning to the Highlight

Whereas making ready to play a prequelized Han Solo within the largest movie of his life, Alden Ehrenreich got here throughout an interview from the late ’70s with Harrison Ford, following the discharge of the unique Star Wars. Ford was requested what it felt like to return off of such a large cultural hit and responded with reduction that he didn’t really feel a lot. Ehrenreich might relate. “All of us dwell underneath this mythology that success in a sure means is salvational and adjustments every thing,” the Solo star says now over Zoom. “The precise again finish of success or failure finally ends up revealing itself to be not practically as significant as you suppose on the entrance finish. I’ve had that have so many occasions. A film comes out and also you need to go like, ‘Sure!’—and also you simply don’t.”

Ehrenreich thinks again to that Ford interview after I ask him an identical sort of query. When it comes to his personal profession, 2023 has been main—and never simply because it’s the primary 12 months through which he’s appeared in a movie since 2018, when Solo flopped on the field workplace. Ehrenreich is the fiery colead of this previous Sundance’s smash premiere, Truthful Play, which launched to No. 1 on Netflix’s films chart final month. He’s a key supporting determine in each Cocaine Bear, the hit B film comedy from Elizabeth Banks, and Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-front-running epic that’s grossed near $1 billion globally (with no indicators of stopping). His directorial debut, the quick movie Shadow Brother Sunday, has performed festivals and picked up prizes all over the world, a concrete step ahead in his filmmaking ambitions.

So, a pure inquiry: How does all of it really feel? No quick approach to reply that. For starters, SAG-AFTRA’s strike guidelines prevented Ehrenreich from speaking about most of those initiatives as they have been launched. Their buzz existed on textual content threads with household and associates and within the occasional headline he’d did not keep away from. “It didn’t really feel practically as actual,” he says. As we chat, he’s been allowed to publicly focus on the movies for about 48 hours. Then there’s the broader actuality. At simply 33 years previous, the younger actor has already hit Hollywood highs and lows, been pressured to be taught the transitory nature of any degree of standing on this business. He wonders if he’s constructed for it in any respect. “You simply attempt to navigate, as all of us do, caring an excessive amount of about what different individuals consider you, and also you attempt to hearken to one thing that’s extra vital,” he says. “It’s very, very exhausting to do.” Particularly, maybe, when the suggestions is nearly as good because it’s been recently.

Ehrenreich is huge on quoting. Titans of Hollywood, like Harrison Ford, have articulated methods of surviving by way of showbusiness that he’s not solely absorbed, however adopted as a sort of philosophy. “Are you prepared for a pretentious reference?” he asks me knowingly, as he works by way of certainly one of many lengthy, candid solutions. “I am going again to an AFI speech that Orson Welles gave the place he stated, ‘Possibly my movies would’ve been higher, however they wouldn’t have been mine.’”

Earlier than turning 20, Ehrenreich made his feature-acting debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s noir drama Tetro, and was promptly in comparison with a younger Leonardo DiCaprio by Roger Ebert. He went on to work with Woody Allen, Park Chan-wook, and most auspiciously, the Coen brothers of their old-Hollywood pastiche Hail, Caesar! His deadpan tour-de-force there, as a Gene Autry-esque dimwit singing cowboy, drew raves, and his profile skyrocketed. The movie was launched in February of 2016. In March, reviews surfaced that Ehrenreich had been shortlisted to play Han Solo within the mega-budgeted eponymous prequel to be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller; his casting was confirmed by Might. After the movie’s field workplace disappointment—relative to its $275-plus million finances anyway, because it grossed practically $400 million worldwide—the actor took day without work, given the method’s size from pre-production prep to post-release promotion. (One cause it took so lengthy: Lord and Miller have been changed by Ron Howard mid-shoot.) Extra just lately, he’s mirrored on what that point gave him.

“I cherished the unique spirit of how they wished to make [Solo], and I did it as a result of it was this nice platform from which I might do my very own factor,” he says. “However what I spotted at that time is: I hadn’t constructed my very own factor sufficient to have the ability to do it…. I knew that I didn’t know myself in that means but, and that takes a specific amount of effort and time and failure in its personal sort of enclosed means. That’s what I spent that point doing.”

He ended his post-Solo hiatus with a job on the ill-fated Peacock collection Courageous New World, which was in manufacturing for eight months. Covid hit instantly thereafter. Immediately, because the world emerged out of the pandemic, Ehrenreich discovered himself not shortlisted for probably the most plum roles out there to actors his age. “Once you return and need to do one thing, you notice that there’s different individuals on the record who’ve surpassed you, and it’s important to battle tougher for a selected position that you really want,” he says. “I’ve lived that time and again.”

However Ehrenreich quotes that Welles speech to affirm that he stands by his selections and his selectiveness. “There’s a sensible arithmetic as an actor now that, frankly, I simply don’t have the abdomen for in the long term,” he says. “I don’t need to do initiatives on the minimize. I don’t need to do issues I don’t actually love if I can keep away from it—and with the cadence now, you sort of have to be doing a specific amount of initiatives.” Working example: “There are issues that I actually wished that I didn’t get. The heartbreaker is when the director goes, ‘You’re who I would like, however I can’t solid you as a result of they should have this man who got here off this factor.’”

This makes Ehrenreich’s 2023 work stand out all of the extra. One might argue he’s conformed to the expectation of a hustling rising star. He doesn’t see it that means: “Once I hear individuals say, ‘God, you weren’t in a film for 5 years,’ I’m like, ‘Holy shit!’” He made Cocaine Bear to ease again into the routine and had a blast. A number of months later, he flew to Serbia to star with Phoebe Dynevor within the taut thriller Truthful Play, about an engaged couple working on the identical monetary agency whose bond unravels when one is promoted over the opposite. Ehrenreich’s efficiency on this blazing characteristic debut from Chloe Domont, which Netflix purchased out of Sundance for $20 million, is darkish and explosive, in a key he hadn’t hit earlier than. What pushed him to take such a dangerous, unstable strategy? “You need to belief the filmmaker. You reside and die on them—and when you’re going to die, you’re already lifeless at that time.”