Harrison Ford shares Hoth war stories in new book Star Wars Icons: Han Solo
A new Star Wars book tells the story of the galaxy’s most notorious rogue from multiple dimensions.
Star Wars Icons: Han Solo explores the character’s origin, his history in the galactic civil war and beyond, and the behind-the-scenes stories from multiple eras and two different actors who brought the captain of the Millennium Falcon to life.
Written by former EW editor Gina McIntyre, the book is on sale now from Sideshow Collectibles.
“It is a complete biography of the character, from the early drafts of George Lucas’ first scripts all the way up through [Solo: A Star Wars Story,] and beyond the character’s legacy in popular culture,” McIntyre says. She also explores “his appearances in the Star Wars novels, and comic books. It’s pretty comprehensive.”
The stories are accompanied by concept art illustrations, classic photos, and imagery of virtually every iteration of the character, from action figures to video games. McIntyre conducted original interviews not just with Harrison Ford and Alden Ehrenreich, but also J.J. Abrams, Ron Howard, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan, Adam Driver, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams, Peter Mayhew, and dozens of others.
Below is an excerpt from the chapter “Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder” which covers the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. In it, Ford shares the untold story of his ill-fated journey to Finse, Norway to film the Hoth scenes.
After an unanticipated blizzard got the shoot off to a rocky start, the production opted to bring Ford to Scandinavia for several scenes that see Han searching for Luke Skywalker who has gone missing while patrolling the wastes of Hoth on a creature known as a tauntaun—scenes originally scheduled to be shot in England.
“We had all these plans to take those snow vehicles thirty to forty minutes up the glacier to go shoot stuff,” recalls Empire Strikes Back associate producer Jim Bloom. “We were in a complete whiteout with nothing to do. There was a scene we were going to do with Harrison and Mark [Hamill] when Harrison finds him and sticks him inside the tauntaun. We had nothing to shoot, and I remember saying to [Empire producer] Gary [Kurtz], ‘Well, let’s get Harrison out here and let’s shoot that scene. Why do it on the stage?’”
“They called me saying that they’d like me to come immediately, the next day, to be available to start shooting,” Ford says. “I had to bring my costume with me. I got off the airplane in Norway, and there was a guy with a sign with my name on it. He put me in a car. He spoke not a word of English. He drove me to a train station. He took my bag out of the back and put it in the train station. I followed my bag and sat down on a bench, and nobody spoke English. I had no idea in the world where I was going or how I was going to get there.”
“There was a guy who was manning the station— had a little desk and a telephone in an office there— and he came out at a certain point,” Ford continues. “I heard the train come up, and this guy came out and grabbed my bag and went out onto the platform. He opened the door to the cab of a huge engine with an auger on the front that dug its way through snow and then could swivel on its base and turn around and come back the other direction. That was the means of conveyance. Somehow, it had been arranged for this guy to come and pick me up because the [train] tracks were not clear.”
Dutifully, Ford climbed into the passenger’s seat beside the driver of “this snowplow, or snow-removing beast. I sat next to him in the cab. He didn’t speak English, and we set off.” Between them, there was an unopened bottle of scotch, Ford recalls: “I think it had come from the hotel where the crew were staying.”
“We went, as I later found out, three hours in the wrong direction on the tracks,” Ford says. “Then, we swiveled around and went three hours back and then continued to our destination. It was about ten hours as I remember. I arrived in the dark with an empty bottle of scotch, which I had shared with the non- English-speaking train engineer, and exited into a tunnel through the snow and into the hotel where the crew was and the cast was.”
Adds Bloom, “The only way to get him to Finse was to send the plow, which was the train plow that kept the line clear, down at nighttime. . . . The Norwegians have a tradition, when you open a bottle you never close it, so when they get there, they kind of fell off the train.”