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Meet Han Solo: 12 Fast Facts About Alden Ehrenreich

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Alden Ehrenreich may not be a household name yet, but give it a minute. The 26-year-old Los Angeles native has been turning heads (and stealing scenes) since making his feature debut in 2009 with Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro. Now, after months of speculation and rumor-swirling, it's finally been confirmed that the up-and-coming actor is about to embark on the role of a lifetime and put his own spin on one of the most iconic characters in film history.

At this weekend's Star Wars Celebration in London, it was officially announced that Ehrenreich (pronounced "eye-ren-rike") has indeed landed the coveted title role in Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s Star Wars spinoff, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. While we wait to see how well Ehrenreich fills Harrison Ford's knee-high boots, let’s get to know a little more about your new favorite space smuggler, who shoots first and knows you love him.

1. STEVEN SPIELBERG DISCOVERED HIM … AT A BAT MITVAH.

In a story that Ehrenreich will no doubt have to repeat many, many times over the course of his career, his road to Hollywood began in a rather unique place: at a Los Angeles bat mitzvah. Ehrenreich—then 14 years old—and his friends made a short movie for the guest of the honor, which was screened at the event, where Steven Spielberg happened to be in attendance.

“It's a piece of sh*t," Ehrenreich told Rolling Stone of the movie. “It's a video that this girl asked us to do. I mean, there wasn't a script: We would go and just film whatever made us laugh. I'm this 14-year-old, skinny little kid with long hair. I break into her house, try on her clothes and make up a song. All of this is just us literally taking a camera and going like, 'Okay, ha ha, do this.' We showed it to our parents—'We're gonna play this at her bat mitzvah!'—and they were like, 'You look like an idiot in this. I don't think you should really do that.' We didn't care.”

Apparently, neither did Spielberg.

“I got a call afterwards from these giggling girls from school who told me that he had really liked the movie,” he told New York Magazine in 2009. “Pretty soon, the DreamWorks people had gotten me an agent, and by now I’ve gone on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of auditions.” That meeting also landed him his two earliest gigs, one-off performances on Supernatural and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

2. HE LEARNED TO ACT FROM THE MARX BROTHERS.

“When I was a little kid, my parents would show me Marx Brothers’ films and westerns and stuff like that,” Ehrenreich told ComingSoon.net in 2012. "That’s where all my desire to be an actor comes from and probably most of my understanding of acting comes from for sure. I love movies.”

3. HE CO-FOUNDED A FILM AND THEATER COMPANY.

In 2009, while a student at NYU, Ehrenreich and his friend/fellow actor Zoë Worth founded The Collectin, a small film and theater company that (according to its website) “experimented with new techniques for writing and performance” via weekly workshops with writers and directors.

4. HE LANDED HIS FIRST FILM ROLE BY READING A PASSAGE FROM THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.

In 2009, Ehrenreich made his big-screen debut starring alongside Vincent Gallo in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro (“He has been my favorite director for a long time,” Ehrenreich said). But being chosen to work with one of Hollywood’s true heavyweights was no easy task. “The Coppola audition was the craziest,” he told New York Magazine. “He first had me read from Catcher in the Rye. Then we had screen tests at his Napa vineyard. Then I got a call to go to Argentina, where I had another four days of screen tests—improvs at cafés and ‘directing’ a group of Argentine actors. I asked him a lot about Marlon Brando. ‘He was a very dignified man,’ he said. Period.”

5. HE HAS ONLY MADE A HANDFUL OF FILMS, BUT HAS ALREADY WORKED WITH SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST CELEBRATED DIRECTORS.

In the seven years that Ehrenreich has been making movies, he has completed a total of eight films—yet managed to work with some of Hollywood’s most legendary directors within that time. In addition to Coppola (who he has worked with twice, first in Tetro, then again in 2011’s Twixt), the young actor has been directed by Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine), Joel and Ethan Coen (Hail, Caesar!), Park Chan-wook (Stoker), and Warren Beatty (in an upcoming, and still-untitled Howard Hughes biopic).

6. EVEN HE’S NOT SURE WHEN WARREN BEATTY’S HOWARD HUGHES MOVIE WILL MAKE IT INTO THEATERS.

When asked earlier this year about Beatty’s film, which reportedly completed production in 2014 but has yet to set a release date, all the actor could say was that Beatty’s "editing it … That's pretty much all I know."

7. HE MADE OUT WITH NATALIE PORTMAN IN A PERFUME COMMERCIAL.

In 2011, Ehrenreich appeared alongside Natalie Portman in a Miss Dior Chérie perfume commercial. Perhaps not coincidentally, the commercial in question was directed by Sofia Coppola. (A year earlier, he appeared—uncredited—as a party guest in her film, Somewhere.)

8. HE HAS BEEN DUBBED “THE NEW LEONARDO DICAPRIO.”

More than once. And by people who matter. Though Tetro was met with mixed reviews, Ehrenreich received a lot of praise for his performance. In Roger Ebert’s three-star review of the film, the noted critic wrote: "In his first major role, Alden Ehrenreich, the newcomer playing Bennie, is confident and charismatic, and inspires such descriptions as ‘the new Leonardo DiCaprio.’” (No word on what the old Leonardo DiCaprio thinks about that.)

9. HAN SOLO ISN’T HIS FIRST BRUSH WITH AN ICONIC CHARACTER.

Back in 2012, Ehrenreich was among the frontrunners to take over the role of Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. (Dane DeHaan eventually landed the part.) Other sources report that Ehrenreich also auditioned for the role of Peter Parker.

10. HE DOESN’T TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER.

Ehrenreich’s real breakthrough came earlier this year, playing a Gene Autry-type actor in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! But he almost never even read for the part. "I don't think the Coen brothers had any idea of who I was," Ehrenreich told Rolling Stone. "My agent sent me the script, and I read it and just loved it. I asked if I could audition, and we were told that I really wasn't right for the part. So, we just asked again, and [the Coens' people] said, 'You can make a tape.' And then I asked again if I could come in, and they said okay. I went and read for the casting director, and then she had me come back and read for the Coens twice."

11. LEARNING HOW TO USE SPAGHETTI AS A LASSO HAS BEEN HIS TOUGHEST JOB YET.

Playing Hobie Doyle in Hail, Caesar! came with a lot of prep. “It felt like being an old studio actor,” Ehrenreich said. “I had all these different jobs to do. It was a regiment. It started with the trick roping, then the gun twirling, then horseback riding.” But of all the tricks he had to learn, “the biggest challenge was learning how to twirl a piece of a spaghetti like a lasso for a scene where he’s trying to impress a date,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.

12. HE DOESN’T WORRY ABOUT BEING TYPECAST.

At least he didn’t in 2012. “I haven’t worked enough to worry about getting typecast,” he told ComingSoon.net, “but ... as a film lover [I] didn’t want to be working with the bad guys. I didn’t want to be making a movie I thought was contributing to a lower base of movies that I just didn’t think were helping people really. Some movies I think present ideas of the world that just don’t help people with their lives. They just present things that are fleeting or stupid. So that’s what I’m careful about—making sure I’m part of something that is saying something that I think is valuable in the world of people not necessarily in the world of art.”

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8 of the Weirdest Gallup Polls
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Born in Jefferson, Iowa on November 18, 1901, George Gallup studied journalism and psychology, focusing on how to measure readers’ interest in newspaper and magazine content. In 1935, he founded the American Institute of Public Opinion to scientifically measure public opinions on topics such as government spending, criminal justice, and presidential candidates. Although he died in 1984, The Gallup Poll continues his legacy of trying to determine and report the will of the people in an unbiased, independent way. To celebrate his day of birth, we compiled a list of some of the weirdest, funniest Gallup polls over the years.

1. THREE IN FOUR AMERICANS BELIEVE IN THE PARANORMAL (2005)

According to this Gallup poll, 75 percent of Americans have at least one paranormal belief. Specifically, 41 percent believe in extrasensory perception (ESP), 37 percent believe in haunted houses, and 21 percent believe in witches. What about channeling spirits, you might ask? Only 9 percent of Americans believe that it’s possible to channel a spirit so that it takes temporary control of one's body. Interestingly, believing in paranormal phenomena was relatively similar across people of different genders, races, ages, and education levels.

2. ONE IN FIVE AMERICANS THINK THE SUN REVOLVES AROUND THE EARTH (1999)

In this poll, Gallup tried to determine the popularity of heliocentric versus geocentric views. While 79 percent of Americans correctly stated that the Earth revolves around the sun, 18 percent think the sun revolves around the Earth. Three percent chose to remain indifferent, saying they had no opinion either way.

3. 22 PERCENT OF AMERICANS ARE HESITANT TO SUPPORT A MORMON (2011)

Gallup first measured anti-Mormon sentiment back in 1967, and it was still an issue in 2011, a year before Mormon Mitt Romney ran for president. Approximately 22 percent of Americans said they would not vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, even if that candidate belonged to their preferred political party. Strangely, Americans’ bias against Mormons has remained stable since the 1960s, despite decreasing bias against African Americans, Catholics, Jews, and women.

4. MISSISSIPPIANS GO TO CHURCH THE MOST; VERMONTERS THE LEAST (2010)

This 2010 poll amusingly confirms the stereotype that southerners are more religious than the rest of the country. Although 42 percent of all Americans attend church regularly (which Gallup defines as weekly or almost weekly), there are large variations based on geography. For example, 63 percent of people in Mississippi attend church regularly, followed by 58 percent in Alabama and 56 percent in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Utah. Rounding out the lowest levels of church attendance, on the other hand, were Vermont, where 23 percent of residents attend church regularly, New Hampshire, at 26 percent, and Maine at 27 percent.

5. ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS DON’T KNOW WHICH COUNTRY AMERICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE FROM (1999)

Although 76 percent of Americans knew that the United States gained independence from Great Britain as a result of the Revolutionary War, 24 percent weren’t so sure. Two percent thought the correct answer was France, 3 percent said a different country (such as Mexico, China, or Russia), and 19 percent had no opinion. Certain groups of people who consider themselves patriotic, including men, older people, and white people (according to Gallup polls), were more likely to know that America gained its independence from Great Britain.

6. ONE THIRD OF AMERICANS BELIEVE IN GHOSTS (2000)

This Halloween-themed Gallup poll asked Americans about their habits and behavior on the last day of October. Predictably, two-thirds of Americans reported that someone in their house planned to give candy to trick-or-treaters and more than three-quarters of parents with kids reported that their kids would wear a costume. More surprisingly, 31 percent of American adults claimed to believe in ghosts, an increase from 1978, when only 11 percent of American adults admitted to a belief in ghosts.

7. 5 PERCENT OF WORKING MILLENNIALS THRIVE IN ALL FIVE ELEMENTS OF WELL-BEING (2016)

This recent Gallup poll is funny in a sad way, as it sheds light on the tragicomic life of a millennial. In this poll, well-being is defined as having purpose, social support, manageable finances, a strong community, and good physical health. Sadly, only 5 percent of working millennials—defined as people born between 1980 and 1996—were thriving in these five indicators of well-being. To counter this lack of well-being, Gallup’s report recommends that managers promote work-life balance and improve their communication with millennial employees.

8. THE WORLD IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY MORE NEGATIVE (2014)

If you seem to feel more stress, sadness, anxiety, and pain than ever before, Gallup has the proof that it’s not all in your head. According to the company’s worldwide negative experience index, negative feelings such as stress, sadness, and anger have increased since 2007. Unsurprisingly, people living in war-torn, dangerous parts of the word—Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Syria, and Sierra Leone—reported the highest levels of negative emotions.

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11 Times Mickey Mouse Was Banned
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Despite being one of the world’s most recognizable and beloved characters, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Mickey Mouse, who turns 89 years old today. A number of countries—and even U.S. states—have banned the cartoon rodent at one time or another for reasons both big and small.

1. In 1930, Ohio banned a cartoon called “The Shindig” because Clarabelle Cow was shown reading Three Weeks by Elinor Glyn, the premier romance novelist of the time. Check it out (1:05) and let us know if you’re scandalized:

2. With movies on 10-foot screen being a relatively new thing in Romania in 1935, the government decided to ban Mickey Mouse, concerned that children would be terrified of a monstrous rodent.

3. In 1929, a German censor banned a Mickey Mouse short called “The Barnyard Battle.” The reason? An army of cats wearing pickelhauben, the pointed helmets worn by German military in the 19th and 20th centuries: "The wearing of German military helmets by an army of cats which oppose a militia of mice is offensive to national dignity. Permission to exhibit this production in Germany is refused.”

4. The German dislike for Mickey Mouse continued into the mid-'30s, with one German newspaper wondering why such a small and dirty animal would be idolized by children across the world: "Mickey Mouse is the most miserable ideal ever revealed ... Healthy emotions tell every independent young man and every honorable youth that the dirty and filth-covered vermin, the greatest bacteria carrier in the animal kingdom, cannot be the ideal type of animal.” Mickey was originally banned from Nazi Germany, but eventually the mouse's popularity won out.

5. In 2014, Iran's Organization for Supporting Manufacturers and Consumers announced a ban on school supplies and stationery products featuring “demoralizing images,” including that of Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty, and characters from Toy Story.

6. In 1954, East Germany banned Mickey Mouse comics, claiming that Mickey was an “anti-Red rebel.”

7. In 1937, a Mickey Mouse adventure was so similar to real events in Yugoslavia that the comic strip was banned. State police say the comic strip depicted a “Puritan-like revolt” that was a danger to the “Boy King,” Peter II of Yugoslavia, who was just 14 at the time. A journalist who wrote about the ban was consequently escorted out of the country.

8. Though Mussolini banned many cartoons and American influences from Italy in 1938, Mickey Mouse flew under the radar. It’s been said that Mussolini’s children were such Mickey Mouse fans that they were able to convince him to keep the rodent around.

9. Mickey and his friends were banned from the 1988 Seoul Olympics in a roundabout way. As they do with many major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, Disney had contacted American favorites to win in each event to ask them to say the famous “I’m going to Disneyland!” line if they won. When American swimmer Matt Biondi won the 100-meter freestyle, he dutifully complied with the request. After a complaint from the East Germans, the tape was pulled and given to the International Olympic Committee.

10. In 1993, Mickey was banned from a place he shouldn't have been in the first place: Seattle liquor stores. As a wonderful opening sentence from the Associated Press explained, "Mickey Mouse, the Easter Bunny and teddy bears have no business selling booze, the Washington State Liquor Control Board has decided." A handful of stores had painted Mickey and other characters as part of a promotion. A Disney VP said Mickey was "a nondrinker."

11. Let's end with another strike against The Shindig (see #1) and Clarabelle’s bulging udder. Less than a year after the Shindig ban, the Motion Picture Producers and Directors of America announced that they had received a massive number of complaints about the engorged cow udders in various Mickey Mouse cartoons.

From then on, according to a 1931 article in Time magazine, “Cows in Mickey Mouse ... pictures in the future will have small or invisible udders quite unlike the gargantuan organ whose antics of late have shocked some and convulsed others. In a recent picture the udder, besides flying violently to left and right or stretching far out behind when the cow was in motion, heaved with its panting with the cow stood still.”

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