With the announcement that Woody Harrelson would be taking on mentoring duties for Disney and Lucasfilm’s young Han Solo spinoff, the fan theories and casting began in earnest. Harrelson isn’t 100% committed to the movie yet, but come on, are they going to find anyone more perfect for it? Probably not. Apparently, the Han Solo folks had someone even bigger in mind for the role: Christian Bale was also up for the mysterious mentor part.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Borys Kit, who also broke the Harrelson news, tweeted about Bale’s almost-casting yesterday.

Bale’s reasons for demurring are unclear, but he probably wanted to make sure he’d be around for whatever Terrence Malick came up with next. And to be honest, Harrelson is a much better fit for that cast — so far the stars are all young folks who only have a few movies each under their belts. A huge name like Bale might be a big draw at first, but could also distract from the rest of the movie. It’s why David Bowie wasn’t cast in The Lord of the Rings. Harrelson is just recognizable enough to be a fun and exciting addition to the cast without taking over the entire movie.

As to who Harrelson might play, we’re not certain, but if my theory is correct, his character could tie the spinoff in with a few of the Star Wars Legacy novels.

The Han Solo movie is still without an official title, but is slated for release May 25, 2018.

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