Weeks after Harrison Ford warned any future actors tempted to take on the role of Han Solo to run a mile, 26-year-old Alden Ehrenreich has emerged as the clear front-runner to play the part in the next Star Wars spin-off, due to be released on May 18 2018.

Hail, Caesar! actor Alden Ehrenreich, 26, is understood to be the favoured candidate to play the hero in the prequel, which follows Han Solo, originally played by Harrison Ford, before he joined the rebel alliance.

The Los Angeles-born actor was discovered by Steven Spielberg who, having seen him in a short comedy film shown at a bat mitzvah, pushed him into a number of TV projects, including Supernatural and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ehrenreich described the short film as “a piece of s-t”. “It’s a video that this girl asked us to do. I mean, t 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.”

His film breakthrough came in 2009 when he played Bennie in Francis Ford Coppola’s film noir Tetro.

Though the film was only given a limited release, Ehrenreich received a number of good reviews and was even compared by one critic to Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 2013, Ehrenreich landed a major role in Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning film Blue Jasmine, in which he played the stepson of Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis, played by Cate Blanchett.

Alden Ehrenreich