I didn't mean to. I just walked into a theatre to see a movie and there he was — Alden Ehrenreich, the actor recently cast as the young Han Solo, one seat away from me. He was just there to see a movie on a quiet Sunday afternoon, just like me. It was only after I sat down that I realised something was wrong. I was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt.
Alden Ehrenreich, the new Han Solo, seen here and below in photos taken at Star Wars Celebration Europe. Source: Disney/Lucasfilm
Living in Los Angeles, you'd think things like this happen more often than they actually do. Sure, you occasionally see a celebrity out, but it's usually a pretty rare occurrence. Even rarer is recognising the person, knowing their name, knowing they have just been cast in one of the most iconic roles of all-time, you being literally obsessed with that character and also you happen to be wearing a T-shirt of that franchise, all at the same time.
(Not to mention randomly choosing an assigned seat one seat down from them in a movie theatre at noon on a Sunday. That's not just rare, that's winning some kind of nerdy lottery.)
I sat down and immediately my mind began to race. Do I say something? Does he know I know? Maybe it's not him. Why did I wear this fucking Star Wars t-shirt? Is it cool to ask for a photo? Maybe I'll wait until after the movie. Just then, my buzzer went off to pick up my food. (We were at a fancy theatre where seats are reserved, there's beer, and you can order lunch.)
As I walked back into the theatre, I'm pretty sure he slyly looked up from his book and glanced at my stupid shirt. No words were spoken but by now I was sure it was him. So I sat down, took out my phone and texted my fiance. Then I texted my friend Mike. I started to write a tweet but then, with my turkey sandwich sitting there uneaten, Ehrenreich got up and walked past me. He's probably going to the bathroom, I thought. Then I had another thought. What if he's fleeing?
This was seemingly confirmed when, after paying for a reserved seat in the dead centre of the movie theatre, the actor walked towards the front of the theatre, near the entrance and sat on the side. I hadn't said a word, but I felt like a huge arsehole — he realised I knew who he was and was obviously concocting some plan, that I was texting and tweeting about him.
So he moved to a new, slightly worse set to get away from the creepy guy in a Star Wars T-shirt. I can't say I blame him. There are some real weirdos out there. The fact I'm not (really) one of them isn't a gamble I'd take either.
After the movie, I passed Ehrenreich on the way to the bathroom. If ever there was a moment, this was it. This was the time to be a little fanboyish, but very respectful and shake the hand of the man stepping into my favourite character of all-time. It was a chance I'd probably never have again.
But I managed to stop myself. The guy just wanted to see a movie and relax. So I purposefully and directly didn't look at him. I just let him leave. "I wish I wasn't wearing a ducking Star Wars shit," I texted later. Damn auto-correct.
But come on. It was too surreal a story not to write about eventually. So, to Mr Ehrenreich, if you read this, my apologies. I didn't mean to make your 12:15pm Sunday showing of Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice uncomfortable. I hope you liked the movie. I did! I think the comedian is quickly maturing into a pretty talented filmmaker and he juggled tone and character in a very relatable, realistic way? Would you agree? Let's hang out, we can watch his first movie Sleepwalk With Me, and bring that script you're... NO. Stop, Germain. Stop.
Alden, can I call you "Alden?" Alden, I'm joking. I'm so freaking excited for you to join the Star Wars universe. Han Solo is my favourite character ever and out of the thousands of people directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller saw for the role, I'm glad you got it. I think you are going to be great and I'm sorry for quietly creeping on you. I tried not to. Honestly. But when it comes to Star Wars and Han Solo, apparently I can't help but put off that vibe.