Look, you know how much I hate when journalists ask interviews about big franchise movies while interviewing stars about their small films that need the attention. So I was a little annoyed here at Park City when buzz started going around that Variety had asked Woody Harrelson a Star Wars question when they were there to talk to him and the cast about Wilson. While I hate it, they may have managed to get a confirmation of his character in the Han Solo spinoff, so props to them.
When asked, Harrelson kinda/sorta confirmed he is playing Solo's mentor, Garris Shrike, which would make him the first non-canon character to appear in the movies. We've already seen Thrawn make his appearance in Star Wars Rebels, but this is obviously a much bigger deal to have someone like Shrike on the big screen. Here's a breakdown of who exactly Shrike is...
Garris Shrike was the man who raised Han Solo. As a young man, he was a bounty hunter, but his quick temper kept him from collecting many live bounties. Instead, he turned to crime, collecting a group of orphans whom he used in confidence tricks and thefts, based aboard the decommissioned troopship Trader’s Luck in orbit over Corellia. One of those orphans was Han Solo. Shrike rescued Solo from the streets, raised him, trained him, and beat him profusely when aggravated.
So here's the thing, it's up for debate whether Harrelson was answering whether he is playing Han Solo's mentor or that he is playing Garris Shrike. I think it's the latter but watch the video and decide for yourself. If it's Shrike don't be surprised if Phil Lord and Chris Miller alter his backstory to suit whatever the movie requires. The Han Solo spinoff arrives in 2018.