You literally cannot turn around without bumping into something that has a Star Wars endorsement on it. From oranges to toilet roll to crisps, you name it, the Star Wars franchise can be seen on it in one way, shape or form. All of this is in aid of the latest, and hugely anticipated film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The seventh film in the franchise sees the return of some of the well loved character from the original trilogy including Han Solo (Harrison Ford), General (was Princess) Leia (Carrie Fisher), Chewbacca, C3P0 and R2-D2. The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the defeat of Darth Vader and the Empire. Now, the threat is The First Order who are attempting to rule the galaxy under the hand of Vader wannabe Kylo Ren. A scavenger named Rae (Daisy Ridley) finds a BB8 droid that, unbeknownst to her, holds the key to finding the missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). When rogue Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) stumbles upon the scavenger and the droid they attempt to take the droid back to where it needs to be.
Along the way, they find Solo and Chewy and the four of them attempt to transport the droid back to General Leia in order to find Skywalker. The First Order makes every attempt to get in their way and destroy The Resistance.
Given that this film grossed almost half a million before it had even hit screens, and has so far grossed almost 2 billion, it is hard to think that anybody would turn down the chance to take part in the Star Wars franchise, yet plenty of people have. In this article we explore 10 of these actors.
10. Benicio Del Toro
One of the most overused costumes related to Star Wars, and one of the most instantly recognizable, is that of Darth Maul. The character was dubbed as being the potential new Vader, and who better to take on that dark role than Benicio Del Toro? However, when the vast majority of Maul’s lines were cut (he only has three in the entire film), Del Toro reportedly felt uncomfortable about how he could develop the character and pulled out of the project to be replaced by Ray Park (X-Men, G.I Joe). Darth Maul’s character turned out to be little more than a funkily dressed extra with some acrobatics, though he is also responsible for one of the most memorable fight scenes in the franchise.
9. Leonardo DiCaprio
This is probably one of the more widely known actor declines in terms of Star Wars. In the prequel trilogy, the character of Anakin Skywalker is introduced. The guy who eventually turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader after fathering Luke and Leia. This leading role was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio who turned it down as he reportedly felt he was not ready to dive into a role of such significance. The role then went to relatively unknown actor Hayden Christiansen which propelled him into the limelight with lead roles in a variety of films following. Not that DiCaprio has done particularly bad for himself.
8. Jim Henson
Jim Henson made his name through children’s TV shows such as Sesame Street and The Muppets. These shows brought with them iconic characters such as Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, with Henson voicing the infamous frog. Given the success that Henson had with voicing characters, it is hardly a surprise that he was approached to voice the infinitely wise and individually spoken Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. However, despite being friends with George Lucas, he turned down the role and the voice of Yoda is now attributed to Frank Oz, who also worked on The Muppets with Henson. He may well be kicking himself with Big Bird now.
7. Burt Reynolds
Mr Reynolds has had a somewhat up and down career in acting and has not always made the best decisions in terms of projects. It is reported that he has turned down roles in iconic films such as Die Hard, James Bond, Rocky and Rosemary’s Baby as well as the Oscar winning role that Jack Nicholson took in Terms of Endearment. Not the smartest of moves as all of these films have gone down in cinematic history. However, one of the roles he must be kicking himself about is that of Han Solo in the original trilogy. Whilst the reasons for him turning them down are unknown, it may have been a blessing in disguise as we then got to see Harrison Ford take on the role.
6. Al Pacino
It would appear that the role of Han Solo is one of great contention. Not only did Burt Reynolds turn down the role, but so did acting royalty Robert De Niro, Rocky legend Sylvester Stallone and Goldie Hawn‘s other half, Kurt Russell. Potentially Kurt Russell could have pulled it off, but Rocky as Han Solo? That may have been a close shave happily averted. However, one of the biggest names to turn down the role is The Godfather of cinema, Scarface himself, Al Pacino. The Devil’s Advocate actor turned the role down because he didn’t understand the scripts. Maybe if it had been explained as gang warfare but only in the sky, we may have had a very different Han Solo.
5. Gary Oldman
Having already taken part in one of the most prolific franchises in cinematic history, the Harry Potter star was almost part of another franchise. Gary Oldman was almost the voice of General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith however he pulled out due to ethical concerns that actors outside of the Screen Actors Guild were being employed. The role instead went to Matthew Wood. Oldman was again close to participating in the franchise when he auditioned for a role in The Force Awakens. He auditioned for the role of Lor San Tekka, however the role went to Max von Sydow instead.
4. Christopher Lee
Although Christopher Lee does feature in the trilogy as Count Dooku, he originally declined to appear in the film. Lee was approached to appear in the original film, A New Hope, as Lucas was keen to have him involved in the project as Grand Moff Tarkin. However, Lee turned down the role of the captain. Lee later joined the franchise in Episode 2: Attack of the Clones, reportedly stating it was more special knowing his friend had taken part. If anybody was going to take on the role meant for Lee, Peter Cushing was the obvious and appropriate answer.
3. Hugh Quarshie
This one is a bit of a cheat, in that Hugh Quarshie did appear in the franchise prior to subsequently dropping out. Quarshie is now known for his recurring role in BBC medical drama, Holby City, however he starred in the first Star Wars prequel as Captain Panaka. When Quarshie was asked to reprise the role in Episode 2, problems arose when he was denied access to the whole script. Rather than being able to read the entire script, Quarshie was only given access to his scenes. Taking issue with this decision, Quarshie decided to drop out of the project and the character was written out of the project.
2. Toshiro Mifune
Toshiro Mifune is a legend in terms of foreign cinema, having been the leading man in a number of films from renowned director Akira Kurosawa. These include cinematic classics such as Seven Samurai and Rashomon yet Mifune turned down the opportunity to star in the original Star Wars trilogy as Obi Wan Kenobi. Mifune reportedly had concerns that the film would cheapen the view of samurai, on which much of the character’s fighting style was based. He was then offered the role of Darth Vader. However, he also turned down this role, despite the original Star Wars story being loosely based on Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress, in which Mifune starred.
1. Ryan Phillippe
Ryan Phillippe is known for his work on Cruel Intentions and in the teen horror, I Know What You Did Last Summer. However, much like Leonardo DiCaprio, Phillippe turned down the role of a lifetime as Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy. Reportedly, Phillippe stated he turned it down due to age gap between him and Natalie Portman (Portman is six years younger than Phillippe). Though his career may not match that of DiCaprio post-declining Star Wars, he has had a steady career, as well as enviable relationships with Reese Witherspoon and Amanda Seyfried, who is ironically four years younger than Portman.