Movies

An Earnest Evaluation Of Senator Jon Ossoff’s Han Solo Performance

On Wednesday, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were, finally, inaugurated as president and vice president. (I had never fully realized just how long the lame-duck period lasts until this year. If you made me guess its length based on the perceived time I would tell you “two years.”) Grabbing some headlines was also the swearing-in of three new senators: Alex Padilla from California, and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff from Georgia. It’s kind of a shame about Warnock and Ossoff because both of their historic wins were overshadowed by what followed the next day at the Capitol. In fact, I wanted to write what I’m writing today back then, but, you know, an attempted coup changed a lot of people’s plans that week I guess.

Anyway, I’m kind of fascinated we have a full-on nerd senator now. To the point attack ads were made against Ossoff for his portrayal of Han Solo during a college production protesting Georgetown’s alcohol policy.

Jon Ossoff

(I’ve seen some people refer to it as cosplay, but that’s not really what this is.) Since these are “attack ads,” they are going to paint Ossoff’s performance in a negative light. (Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley helped incite a riot in which people were killed, but, yes, Ossoff’s Han Solo is the problem.) But, now that the election is over and he’s now a senator for the next six years, it’s time this performance got a fair shake. So, let’s give Ossoff an honest critique of his performance as Han Solo.

First of all, playing Han Solo is a tough assignment in any context if your name isn’t Harrison Ford. The character is a weird combination of Ford’s desire, as a professional, to do a good job, but also thinking the whole thing is stupid. The problem a lot of people run into trying to do a Han Solo is they try to act too cool. Ford isn’t trying to be cool. Ford just has that impossible to replicate combination of being cool and thinking Star Wars is dumb. Plus, it’s always tough for someone around 20 to play a mid-30s Harrison Ford.

I speak from some experience here. At the University of Missouri, there was a class called Acting 1 For Non-Majors. One of the assignments was to do a “scene from a movie featuring two people” and a classmate and I picked the scene between Han Solo and Greedo in the original Star Wars. Thank goodness no one actually filmed this. I couldn’t find a black vest, so I just wore a black jacket and my outfit looked a lot more like The Fonz than it did Han Solo. Though, I did have a vintage The Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper blaster that we used. I remember we went to Toys ‘r’ Us looking for anything resembling a Greedo mask and the best we could come up with on our budget was a Blue Power Ranger mask. So, yes, in front of actual people, there we were, dressed as The Fonz and a Blue Power Ranger, acting out a Star Wars scene. We got a B.

(As an epilogue to this story: After our successful B grade, I had thrown all of the props into the back of my car. A couple of months later, during the holiday break, a friend and I wound up driving to Canada for reasons that would probably only make sense if you are 19. Anyway, at the border between North Dakota and Manitoba we were asked why we were going to Canada. I said, “we are bored.” Not buying that anyone would go to Manitoba in December out of “boredom,” we were immediately pulled over and taken into separate interview rooms to see if our stories matched. While we were being interviewed they searched my car and I heard, “stand back, bring the dog!” As you probably guessed, the Canadian border patrol had found my toy Star Wars gun from my Acting 1 For Non Majors class.)

Jon Ossoff avoids the whole Fonz problem by coming up with a unique design of his own. Eschewing the classic white shirt, black vest look, Ossoff goes for a brown shirt with some sort of insignia on the left sleeve. He’s also wearing what looks like a bandolier that is usually worn by Chewbacca. (The Chewbacca in this production looks like it was literally put together with carpet.) Ossoff’s Han Solo hairstyle is a little more freewheeling than the Ford version and more resembles what we saw from Alden Ehrenreich. But, you know, I have to admit that he does have a pretty “cool” vibe going on.

The plot of this whole short film is a little confusing. The main gripe here is our heroes don’t like the Georgetown alcohol policies and the person implementing these polices is Darth Vader. (I find it funny that there was no attempt to do a silly pun or something based on whoever they actually had a problem with. Nope, it’s literally Darth Vader who is telling these kids they can’t have beer.) There is one twist at the end that I will spoil. This prohibition-loving Vader (who, for some reason, doesn’t wear a shirt) kills Ben, then fights Luke (I will just assume the actor playing Luke is not currently a United States senator). Luke, with seemingly no prompting, yells that Vader is not his father and then stabs Vader in the chest, killing Vader. The students at Georgetown will get their beer.

So, what’s interesting here, considering the “controversy,” is this is a very non-nerdy version of Han Solo. And he doesn’t really do all that much. It’s like Ossoff just kind of wore whatever he had available and didn’t go overboard. So, it’s pretty rich of anyone to go after Ossoff for this for being “too nerdy.” I think, in the end, he just wanted some beer. So here’s someone playing Han Solo who really isn’t trying all that hard to play Han Solo, which is kind of about right. If I were grading his performance, he’d also get a B.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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