Ehrenreich was discovered at a friend's bat mitzvah reception by Steven Spielberg, when Spielberg watched a comedy video created by Ehrenreich and a friend, "which began in the present and eventually cut to 20 or 30 years later, with Mr. Ehrenreich, in a kimono, screaming to stop a wedding." Ehrenreich has described the comedic performance he gave in the movie as, "I ran around as a skinny little punk, trying on girls' clothes and eating dirt." He was then contacted by DreamWorks, a studio which Spielberg helped found, and met with its casting director. The meeting with Spielberg led to acting roles on television shows such as Supernatural and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
In 2007, Ehrenreich auditioned and won the role of Bennie Tetrocini in Francis Ford Coppola's Tetro. Coppola requested Ehrenreich read a passage from The Catcher in the Rye for his main audition. The film was released in limited release in 2009 and received generally positive reviews from critics; praising Ehrenreich's performance. In 2011, he played a minor role in Coppola's subsequent film Twixt and appeared alongside Natalie Portman in the Sofia Coppola-directed Miss Dior Cherie commercial.
In 2013, he starred as Ethan Wate in the film adaptation of the novel Beautiful Creatures, and appeared as Whip Taylor in Park Chan-wook's thriller film Stoker. He then played the stepson of Cate Blanchett in the Woody Allen-directed drama film Blue Jasmine. In 2016, Ehrenreich became more widely known for his co-leading role as Hobie Doyle in the Coen brothers film Hail, Caesar!, alongside a cast that included Josh Brolin and George Clooney. Many critics praised Ehrenreich's performance in particular. That same year, Ehrenreich starred in the leading role of Frank Forbes in Warren Beatty's romantic comedy-drama Rules Don't Apply. He then starred in The Yellow Birds with Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, and Jennifer Aniston, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
In March 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Ehrenreich was one of a number of actors to audition for the role of Han Solo for the upcoming Star Wars anthology film, and had made the final shortlist. On April 16, 2016, Deadline.com reported that he was the frontrunner for the role following a series of secret screen tests. On May 5, 2016, Ehrenreich was cast as Han Solo, with the film following Solo's early life before the events of the original 1977 Star Wars.
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