Star Wars fans across the world are gearing up for the impending release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which will tell us the story about how a young Han Solo met Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca, and how he gained the Millennium Falcon. However, a visit to YouTube as of this moment, will reveal the existence of a film about a young Han Solo already out there, Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade, released in December 2016. This fan film has been viewed over two million times and has a 97% liked rating, which is unusually high as far as Star Wars fan films go.
It’s only thirteen minutes long, but Han Solo: A Smugger’s Trade does a fantastic job getting across the persona and mannerisms of Han, as well as a presenting a really compelling original story involving him and Chewie. I highly recommend you watch it before continuing further with the article. Since I was a big fan of this film, in the wake of the official Solo film coming out, I thought it would be valuable to reach out to hear from the man who stepped into the iconic vest and played the role of young Han, Jamie Costa.
Jamie recently portrayed Patrick Swayze on the TV show The Price of Fame and is well known for his amazing impersonations of actors Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, and numerous others. He also does voiceover work for an animated series. Jamie was kind enough to give us his time and answer some of our questions about himself, the film (which he also executive produced) and Star Wars in general.
AiPT!: Jamie tell us about what got you into acting, producing and directing in the first place? For Star Wars fans, A Smuggler’s Trade is your best known work but you’ve also had stints as Patrick Swayze and are well known for your Robin Williams impersonation as well.
Jamie Costa: What got me into into movies was the magic of dinosaurs being brought to life in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. I was literally moved in a way like absolutely no other. It made me want to be a part of the process whether acting or film-making. Also part two of this was of course being inspired by my favorite actors growing up like Russell Crowe, Mel Gibson, Steve Martin, Ian McKellen, Robin Williams — this list has had many additions.
AiPT!: What was your earliest Star Wars experience, and describe your passion for Han Solo (if he’s not your favorite character, then perhaps tell me a bit about who is)?
Costa: My earliest experience was being babysat at a friend of the family’s house at like age five or six, and watching all three of the old trilogy films in that cool VHS collectors pack with the three different stills of, I believe, Vader, a Stormtrooper and Yoda. I loved Yoda and always wanted to him see do some Professor X level force moves! [My love of] Solo came later actually. Oh and Qui-Gon. And Obi-Wan. Ugh, love them all. Oh, and watching freaking Darth freaking Maul appear for the first time and lighting up his double-bladed lightsaber sent the biggest gush of goosebumps down me. Luke in Return of the Jedi too. His green saber is my favorite.
AiPT!: So in the film, the first thing that became incredibly obvious to me was how much love the entire team had for not just Han Solo but the entire Star Wars lore. We see things like Darth Revan’s mask and a guy who could very well be Dash Rendar. Talk a little bit about your experience with the expanded universe, at least for Legends, and if you’re following what’s been going on in the new canon.
Costa: Yes, there was love from the entire team and all those who invested on our Indiegogo. Everyone had passion and professionalism. Yes, there were a lot of Easter eggs that we wanted fans to pick up on that we wanted to add to help build tone and feel for in this Solo adventure. I love how the Force still looms on the back burner but is put in its place in the mind of Han to come up formally later in the original trilogy, of course! To prepare for Han, I read some young Han Solo books to give me some bones to put the meat on for this younger Han based off the Han we know portrayed perfectly by Harrison Ford. A.C. Crispin’s first two novels helped give me his origin in my mind. Not the best expanded universe books, but full of great ideas to pull on for understanding his relationship to Chewbacca especially with the connection to Dewlanna (Han’s first Wookiee companion growing up).
AiPT!: What is the backstory to the lightsaber that appears in the film, and what do you think happens to it after the events of the film? If there isn’t one you guys thought of, then I’ll put you on the spot – what is Jamie Costa‘s “head-canon?” Interestingly, since you made the film the Marvel Darth Vader comic has gone into great detail on the history and “life” of lightsabers, especially those that are used by Sith Lords.
Costa: Well before Kylo came along we imagined it would be a rare one left over from the Clone Wars, no one specific but that it would be an origin for how his son [in Legends continuity], Jacen Solo, got his. Like Han might keep it in his personal belongings if he didn’t trade it ’till later in life. Random thought to chew on…Gyorsho (the film’s villain) has Force sensitivity and appreciation but is not a Force user (perhaps like a more amused Maz Kanata and overall more sinister). Also, we wanted this side adventure to live ambiguously five years or so prior to A New Hope.
AiPT!: The thing that caught me by pleasant surprise was how you guys were able to make the film work so well and give it a rugged, almost DIY type of feel without having to rely on too many special effects beyond lightsaber glowing and blasters. Was that intentional or was that the result of budget constraints? Asking because it might be valuable to hear from people who want to make fan films but might be intimidated.
Costa: Yes, I’m so proud of our team for pulling the look and feel off without cheating it with too many noticeable CGI tricks. This was very intentional as we aimed for the Rogue One, original trilogy, Outer Rim feel. Also, yes there were budget restraints.
AiPT!: You knew I was gonna ask this one – did you put your name in the running to be the “young” Han Solo? How will you feel and what will you be doing on May 25 (or the night of the 24th)?
Costa: I will neither deny nor confirm an official audition but I would have been honored to take up the young smuggler’s role. Though if I were a higher-up, I would’ve not gone for a movie initially and if they had to do something, why not a high-budgeted Netflix Young Han Solo series (kinda like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles)? We already know Han and his arc from the original trilogy/The Force Awakens and the mystery of prior adventures and where he came from was always there.
AiPT!: Last question: What projects do you currently have in the works that you think fans of A Smuggler’s Trade would like?
Costa: I keep myself spread thin as VO artist, content creator, onscreen actor and indie producer but the big one I’ve been working on and hope to shoot this year is an original story in the Last of Us universe! Also you never know, we may revisit Han or perhaps another famous Harrison Ford character…
AiPT!: Thank you so much for your time!
Costa: May that hokey religion be with you.
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