10 Actors Who Were Almost Cast In 'Star Wars'
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For over four decades, stories from the galaxy far, far away have continued to entertain generations of fans. Starting all the way back in 1977 with A New Hope, the franchise grew exponentially and has seen many new and big name actors fight for the right to say they were "in a Star Wars movie." Many have gone on to become synonymous with their role, and it's really hard to imagine anyone else playing them. However, things could have gone very differently.
Many actors were offered roles in George Lucas's space opera, but not all bought into it, so passed or missed out on the opportunity. Some have even outright said it's the biggest mistake of their career. Today, we are going to look at 10 actors who were almost cast in Star Wars.
Number 10 - Al Pacino
Starting us off is probably one of the more well-known actors to turn down a chance to appear in Star Wars. When George Lucas began developing Star Wars, Pacino was at the height of his career. He had appeared as Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Copolla's The Godfather films, and so George offered him the role of Han Solo early on in production. Whilst it would have no doubt been amazing to see Pacino's take on the character, he turned the role down after reading the script. During the event, An Evening With Pacino in 2013, he said about the role, "it was mine for the taking but I didn't understand the script."
Number 9 - Orson Welles
James Earl Jones will be remembered all through history for his famous voice, specifically when using it as the Dark Lord of the Sith himself - Darth Vader. However, what you may not know is, we almost got something very different. Back in 2015, George Lucas stated that it was a toss up between Jones and legendary director Orson Welles (Citizen Kane). Lucas knew he needed an iconic voice for the part of his villain and thought each of these voices were unique and would be remembered. Obviously, Jones won, but it would be interesting to hear some of Vader's lines spoken by Welles.
Number 8 - Toshiro Mifune
It's no secret that George Lucas took a lot of inspiration from old Japanese Samurai films when it came to fleshing out his masterpiece. A lot of characters and the fight sequences are were you see it most, and it turns out Lucas tried to bring on board a real life Samurai who would actually turn down more than one role. Mifune's daughter, Mika, revealed her father was offered the roles of Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader early in production. He apparently turned the role of Ben down due to feeling sci-fi moves were cheap looking at the time and potentially reflect negatively on him as a Samurai. This is when he was offered the role of Vader, as he would be in a suit with his face hidden, but he again turned it down.
Number 7 - Leonardo DiCaprio
When Lucas revealed he would be releasing a prequel trilogy focusing on the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, everyone wanted to know who was going to receive this prestigious role of Anakin Skywalker, particularly as an adult. As we know, it went to Hayden Christensen, but a young Leo was in talks to take it first. Still riding off the success of Titanic, Leo apparently met with Lucas and spoke about the part, but obviously didn't take it. In 2014, he told the Shortlist he just wasn't in the right frame of mind to take on this particular role at the time. Sadly, many fans deem Christensen to have been the wrong choice for Anakin, so would Leo have done a better job, do you think?
Number 6 - Tupac
Yes, you read that correctly, it has widely been reported that rapper Tupac was supposed to be in the prequel trilogy. According to one of the engineers who worked at Tupac's record label, Death Row Records, the legendary rapper was going to be reading a role for Lucas and was set to appear in all three films. We even know what part he was supposed to be playing - Jedi Master Mace Windu. This was all going on way, way back in the early production stages for The Phantom Menace, however, following the tragic death of Tupac in 1996, the role was then given to Samuel L. Jackson. Had Tupac managed to take on the role, it would have resulted in a very different character to what we saw.
Number 5 - Christopher Walken
Many, many actors read for the part of Han Solo, but Lucas just couldn't seem to be able to find the right fit for what he had in mind for the character. Harrison Ford was actually brought in to read lines with actors auditioning for the other parts, which is what led to him being cast in the end. However, Ford himself told the story of his casting to Rolling Stone in 2015 and explained that it was between him and one other actor. Turns out the other actor was Christopher Walken. I can just imagine Han Solo shouting for more cowbell!
Number 4 - Kurt Russell
Just like Christopher Walken above, Kurt Russell also, apparently, made it pretty far in terms of nearly being cast as the famous smuggler. Russell auditioned for the parts of Luke and Han. There's even an audition tape floating around the web. Russell ended up turning down the role due to Lucas not being able to make up his mind on how he wanted him to fit in. At the same time, Russell was being offered a role in a western from ABC, so because Lucas couldn't give him a straight answer, he chose the western instead.
Number 3 - Jodie Foster
It's really hard to imagine anyone but the sadly missed Carrie Fisher playing the hugely important role of Princess Leia, but it turns out a young Jodie Foster was one of Lucas's first choices for the role. Fisher was around 19 when she began playing the famous Princess, which was young. However, Foster was even younger, as she was only in her early teens when she was offered the part. Foster declined the role, due to scheduling conflicts with Taxi Driver, and has seemingly never looked back, stating she had no regrets over declining the role.
Number 2 - Benicio Del Toro
So, technically, this one is a little bit of a cheat, as Benicio Del Toro did end up playing a character in The Last Jedi. However, he is being included on this list as he was actually supposed to appear in the franchise much, much earlier and as one of its most popular characters - Darth Maul. That's right, back when Lucas was making his prequel trilogy, Del Toro was cast in the role of the film's main bad guy. Sadly, Lucas continued to cut a lot of the character's lines, which led to Del Toro stepping away from the project in the end. Martial artist Ray Park was then cast in the role, but in person only. His voiced was dubbed over the two lines Maul says in the film. No wonder Del Toro left.
Number 1 - Gary Oldman
Ending our list today is one of Hollywood's most celebrated actors, Gary Oldman. He has played some of the most iconic film roles ever and is a highly celebrated actor, but he too was almost in Star Wars and nearly played a very unusual part. Originally, he was meant to be the voice of the villainous General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith. So why didn't it happen, you ask? Well, Oldman is part of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and part of that means special permission has to be given for an actor to appear in a non-SAG film. Apparently, Lucas was told to ask for permission, but he and his team reportedly became annoyed by it and so Oldman had to pull out.
One can only imagine just how different the films would have been had any of the above got the part they were supposed to instead of who we got. What do you think? How many of the above did you know?
Until next time!
READ NEXT: How Tupac Almost Played Mace Windu
Written By Jordan McGlinchey
Syndicated From Culture Slate