Wardrobe for my interview with director Ron Howard
Wardrobe for my interview with actor Alden Ehrenreich
1.Prologue: Behind the Scenes
On this morning I headed over to the Ritz Carlton in Roppongi to do interviews for the film Han Solo: A Star Wars Story. Up until this point I’d interviewed a director and interviewed an actor, but this was my first time doing multiple interviews on the same day: director Ron Howard and lead actor Alden Ehrenreich.
My stylist Scarlet and I had decided that my basic look for interviews would be suit and tie, but as I was conducting two interviews on this day, we wanted to change something about my wardrobe between the first and second. As it seemed that I would have some downtime between the interviews, we decided that I would keep the same suit but bring a change of shirt and tie.
On this day I also got to attend my first ever press event. It took place in Tokyo Midtown’s large Hall A, with photographers taking up position in the front, and the TV cameras lined up on elevated platforms in the back. Reporters, us included, sat in the middle. It was a memorable experience, finding myself in a scene that I’d only ever seen on TV.
Watching Ron Howard and Alden Ehrenreich answer reporters’ questions was sobering. Getting to fly around the world to promote a film sounds like a lot of fun, but having to answer the same kind of questions day-in and day-out while acting as if you’re hearing them for the first time sounds...exhausting. In that regard, our two guests were upbeat and sincere throughout—true professionals.
2.Some Thoughts on Han Solo: A Star Wars Story
As I’ve mentioned in this column before, I’ve been a big Star Wars fan from way back. The epic scale of a space opera, told with elements of adventure and Westerns. A story that appears at first glance to be a hackneyed damsel-in-distress tale, but is actually turned on its head. It’s the perfect recipe to capture the imagination of a young boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager.
The “Star Wars Story" series are anthology films that tell side stories tangentially related to the main Skywalker saga. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) was the closest thing Star Wars has ever had to a war film--the tale of the Rebel Alliance stealing the plans to the Galactic Empire’s space fortress, the Death Star.
In that sense, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story is the closest thing Star Wars has ever had to a heist film, portraying space smuggler and outlaw Han Solo in his younger days. Ostensibly, the protagonist of Star Wars has always been Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker. But in various character popularity rankings Han Solo has usually been neck and neck with Darth Vader for the top two spots.
Despite the enduring popularity of the character, my feeling is that fans haven’t exactly been chomping at the bit for a Han Solo “solo” film. Han Solo’s story arc in the original trilogy is complete and self-contained: a space outlaw who only looks out for himself (and his sidekick Chewbacca) falls in love with a independent-minded woman, and gradually resolves to fight for a larger cause. Harrison Ford’s performance is restrained but idiosyncratic, and for the longest time it was impossible to imagine anybody else in the role. That person was surely doomed to present a poor imitation of the original.
In that regard, the mere fact that Ehrenreich’s performance is not just a cheap imitation is worthy of praise. As an actor, he’s the real deal, and I can’t wait to see the work he does in the future.
On the other hand, the fact that the performance is not a straightforward imitation presents its own problems, namely the question of whether or not the protagonist of this story needed to be Han Solo. It doesn’t help that there are so many scenes and lines that evoke or overtly reference the original trilogy. That kind of inside baseball is often cringe-worthy from a fan’s perspective, while completely going over the head of the casual moviegoer. Perhaps the story—and Ehrenreich himself—would have benefitted from the film being about a separate space pirate-type that had nothing to do with Han Solo.
Of course, then you would be left without the heart of this film—the meet-cute between Han Solo and Chewie. Is there enough to this story to stand on its own? It’s an agonizing dilemma.
3.Attaché Case by Zero Halliburton
When putting together an outfit, choosing the right bag can make or break the look; it can also leave a client with the right or wrong impression. Recently I see a lot of guys in suits shouldering backpack-style business bags, but those shoulder straps dig in to the suit fabric, creating unseemly wrinkles and ruining the drape of the suit. Backpacks are for casual occasions, and if your business bag is one of those two-way or three-way bags, I recommend holding it down by your side like a briefcase rather than shouldering it when going to meet clients.
Up until this point in my life I’ve mostly worn business casual—including on the show—and my go-to bag as of late has been a nylon bag from Briefing. But the nylon bag is not such a great match for a suit, which calls for a leather briefcase or attaché case. So for a while now I’ve wanted a proper bag for when I go to conduct these interviews.
A “brief" is a legal document, and the word “briefcase" comes from lawyers showing up to court with a case full of briefs. An “attaché" refers to the staff of an ambassador, and the cases they would carry around came to be called “attaché cases".
Zero Halliburton is an American bag manufacturer known for their aluminum attaché cases. The Apollo 11 astronauts used a Zero Halliburton case to bring moon rocks back to Earth.
Their classic attaché case is currently available in a lightweight polycarbonate version, as well as in black and blue colors, but I chose to the silver aluminum version: the SL Attache / 94353-05 (¥81,000 tax incl.).
Compared to the polycarbonate the aluminum version is very heavy. For that reason I can’t recommend it for everybody, but let me put it this way: in business, if a suit is your armor, then this attaché case is without a doubt one of your weapons. It has a dial lock that automatically engages when you close the case, so you don’t have to go through the hassle of opening up latches. I love the simple, slim, artistic design.
Wardrobe for my interview with director Ron Howard
4.Purple contrast collar shirt by Azabu Tailor
In this column I’ve talked about how we shoot our show in front of a blue screen and can’t wear blue clothing. As a result I’ve had several shirts standing by waiting to get their time in the spotlight—and this contrast collar shirt is one of them.
The fabric is purple with white pencil stripes, with a rounded collar to present a gentle image.
Side note, the Japanese term for shirts like this is “cleric shirt” (cleric, of course, meaning a member of the clergy), but this is a wasei-eigo expression (faux-English words coined in Japan). The correct English term is “contrast collar” or simply a shirt with “white collar and cuffs”.
5.Purple jacquard tie by Brooks Brothers
I paired this Brooks Brothers tonal square and dot tie (¥15,120 tax incl.) with my purple contrast collar shirt from Azabu Tailor.
The design features squares and dots arranged in a geometric pattern, and the Italian silk has a refined luster.
Wardrobe for my interview with actor Alden Ehrenreich
6.White dress shirt by GlobalStyle
After finishing my interview with director Ron Howard, my producers and I had lunch before returning for my interview with Alden Ehrenreich. I changed shirt and tie along the way.
I ordered this shirt last year along with my navy and gray GlobalStyle suits. It has a semi-wide collar and French cuffs.
For studio tapings I usually don’t wear a tie and stick with button-down shirts, but occasions like this are reminder that every man needs simple white dress shirts in his wardrobe.
7.Striped tie by Brooks Brothers
For my white GlobalStyle dress shirt I went with this BB#3 Rep Tie (¥12,960 tax incl.).
The “repp" in repp ties refers to a type of weave rather than a type of pattern, and so come in many designs. Perhaps the most well known is the regimental tie. The name comes from the fact that the striped patterns were originally used by British army regiments in their flags and ties to identity their affiliation.
This is a burgundy tie with gold stripes, eerily similar to the official school colors of UCLA rival and nemesis USC—cardinal red and gold. For that reason I hesitated before buying it. Regimental ties carry a message—they represent and reflect upon the wearer. Something to think about when choosing colors.
8.Navy suit by GlobalStyle
For more about this item, see CINEMA & THEATRE #005.
9.“M-27" glasses by 999.9
For more about this item, see FASHION & SHOPPING #003.
On this day my first interview was with director Ron Howard. As someone who grew up watching a lot of TV reruns, Ron Howard will forever be associated in my mind with his sitcom roles—specifically as the son of the titular sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show and as the naive teenage protagonist of Happy Days. I also think of him as class president Steve Bolander from (Star Wars creator) George Lucas’s film American Graffiti. These days, of course, he’s known more for his directorial work in such films as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. But in person the man still has a kind of boyish charm, a twinkle in his eye. During the interview I had to stop myself from wanting to shout out “Richie!" his character from Happy Days.
From the moment Alden Ehrenreich came onto the state at the press event sporting a leather jacket and cool bracelet, I knew he was unlike the young stars and celebrities of today—this was someone cut from the same mold as old Hollywood greats. During our interview he broke the ice when he asked me where I was from and we realized we were both Californian (he grew up in the Pacific Palisades, on the west side of L.A.). I’m excited to see what he does next as an actor. For anybody unfamiliar with his work, he is an absolutely scene-stealer in his role as a side character in the Coen brothers’ 2016 film Hail Caesar.
There was a surprise waiting for me at the end of my interview with Alden Ehrenreich. A certain “walking carpet" walked (barged?) into the interview room—Han Solo’s wookie sidekick Chewbacca. (There is a scene in the film A New Hope where Princess Leia refers to Chewie as a “walking carpet".) Chewie is an imposing figure, but when I asked him for a hug he happily obliged. A dream come true!
What’s more, my interview with Mr. Ehrenreich was going to air on an episode where we were featuring #selfie, so I got to take a selfie—my first real selfie, at that—with Han Solo and Chewie. (My first real selfie!) Side note, it was impossible to tell on TV, but the selfie stick I was using was actually a lightsaber.
CINEMA & THEATRE #006
Reflections on "Han Solo: A Star Wars Story" and My Interviews With Ron Howard and Alden Ehrenreich