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Ron Howard is taking command of the Han Solo “Star Wars” spinoff after the surprise departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
USA TODAY

Two decades after he told the story of NASA’s most successful failure, Ron Howard is going back into space with the galaxy far, far away’s most iconic smuggler.

Lucasfilm announced Wednesday that the Oscar-winning filmmaker of A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 has been named director of the upcoming young Han Solo Star Wars film starring Alden Ehrenreich in the role Harrison Ford made famous. The move comes on the heels of the departure of previous directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller two days earlier because of “different creative visions.”

“We believe the highest goal of each film is to delight, carrying forward the spirit of the saga that George Lucas began 20 years ago,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a statement. “We have a wonderful script, an incredible cast and crew, and the absolute commitment to make a great movie.”

The filmmaker behind Frost/Nixon, Splash and many other films, Howard has a long history with George Lucas: He starred in Lucas’ American Graffiti in 1973 and 15 years later directed the fantasy Willow under the Lucasfilm banner. In recent years, Howard has helmed the Robert Langdon series with Tom Hanks (including the hit The Da Vinci Code), as well as the dramas In the Heart of the Sea and Rush.

Filming on the still-untitled Han Solo spinoff began in February in England and will resume July 10. According to The Hollywood Reporter, there were three and a half weeks left in production when Lord and Miller exited, with five weeks of reshoots also built into the schedule.

The movie, co-starring Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke, is…