When Ron Howard was named as the new director for a Star Wars spin-off film, no one realised just how perfect the match was.
As it turns out, Howard has been a staunch advocate for even the less popular Star Wars films since 1999.
A letter signed by Ron Howard was revealed in a tweet from Star Wars fan Thomas Storaï.
In the letter, addressed to former Newsweek editor Nancy Cooper, Howard meticulously rips to shreds an article written about The Phantom Menace five months before its cinematic release.
The Phantom Menace is generally acknowledged by fans and critics to be the least impressive instalment of the galactic story, and it seems Newsweek’s opinion was no different, if a little too scathing when it came to the assessment of nine-year-old newcomer Jake Lloyd.
“While your ‘Buzz Wars, Episode One’ piece was generally snide and insipid, the pot shot at nine year old Jake Lloyd was down right irresponsible,” the letter begins.
The article quoted “insiders” who panned Lloyd’s performances, and Howard calls their credibility into question.
Well-connected enough to have viewed the film ahead of its release, Howard writes that, in his opinion “Jake Lloyd is terrific in the film (which, by the way, is truly amazing)”.
Howard accepts that movies will receive critical appraisal, but says Newsweek was well out of line with some of its comments.
“To attack a child’s performance based on rumor and without even having seen the movie is shameful.”
The situation is obviously one that hits close to home; Howard goes on to speak from his own personal experience as a child actor.
“As someone who was acting professionally at an early age, I can assure you that nine year old Jake is quite capable of reading, understanding and feeling the full humiliation of a piece like that,” the letter continues.
Howard signs off by saying that neither he nor Lloyd may be able to “comprehend the reason it was printed”, and suggests that someone from the editorial staff should explain.
Lloyd retired from acting two years later, aged 12, reportedly due to being overly stressed by press commitments and bullying from his classmates.
The new Star Wars instalment – a prequel story about a young Han Solo – was previously being directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. The two were fired earlier this month, reportedly due to “creative differences”.
Howard has taken over directorial duties for what little remains of the shooting schedule, and for five weeks of reshoots. The movie is due for cinematic release in May 2018.
You can read Howard’s full letter here: