On Monday, Sept. 6, Hollywood lost another acting legend, Michael K. Williams, who died at the age of 54. Without a doubt, Williams had an extremely great career, appearing as Omar Little in The Wire, Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire and Montrose Freeman in Lovecraft Country.
And yet, there was another role that we were so close to seeing Williams in, but fate would have it another way. In 2017, Williams was cast to be a part of a galaxy far, far away, landing the role of Dryden Vos in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Dryden was the formidable crime boss in the film, who ended up being played by WandaVision’s Paul Bettany in the final cut. And the reason behind Willaims’ departure from the film was quite unfortunate.
He explained to Deadline in August 2017, reshoots for the film conflicted with his filming schedule at that time. As many know, Solo had been plagued with problems before coming out, which included the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being swapped for Ron Howard. So when it came to doing Howards’ reshoots, Williams wouldn’t be able to go back and re-film his scenes because, at the time, he was filming The Red Sea Diving Resort out in South Africa.
According to him, he would have needed to be at Pinewood Studios in London a month prior to the interview. And as far as production went, it sounded like everything that needed to be shot with Williams had been shot (sans reshoots, that is). And unlike Bettany’s version of the character, Williams had put in the motion capture work because Dryden was originally going to be an alien-looking being. So, essentially, all of Williams’ good work had gone to waste due to the reshoots.
Michael K. Williams speaks on losing his Star Wars role
Later, in March 2018, Michael K. Williams opened up more about the lost Star Wars role. As he said on EW Morning Live (via Entertainment Weekly):
"There are some things in life, you just gotta laugh at it. That was such an odd turn of events. That’s not the norm. As crazy a town as Hollywood is — I like to be the one that says I’ve seen a little bit of everything in this town — that was one for the textbooks. What are the odds of that happening? There comes a point, you just gotta throw your hands up and, you know what, it just wasn’t meant to be."
Still, Williams had nothing but good things to say about his co-stars in the film and the work they had done:
"I will tell you this much though. What saddens me most is I was very proud of the work that I did. What I believe I have created with Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson and Alden [Ehrenreich]… I thought it was some great work. We was on the spaceship, and we all had these amazing scenes together, and I thought it was a great opportunity, and I thought it was some great stuff. It’s unfortunate the world won’t get to see it."
As Williams said, it was truly unfortunate that the world won’t get to see it. Perhaps the internet will rally around a Lord and Miller Cut. But prior to that interview, Williams was still determined to be a part of the Star Wars universe. As he said in the 2017 Deadline story:
"I don’t think that me not being in the Star Wars family is final. I left with a very good taste in my mouth about the whole family, and I hope that I left a good taste in their mouth. They’re a great group of people, the Lucas family."
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