Can you imagine any Star Wars characters being played by different actors? You probably can’t because the franchise is so successful that many actors in the films will forever be known as their Star Wars characters. It would be really strange to see anyone other than Harrison Ford play Han Solo or Mark Hamill play Luke Skywalker.
In fact, the vast majority of actors who have appeared in the Star Wars franchise are identified almost entirely by their Star Wars roles. Most actors in the Star Wars franchise never really found success in other roles. There are exceptions of course. Harrison Ford went on to be Indiana Jones and became a massive movie star, and some actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Alec Guinness and Liam Neeson were already big stars before starring in Star Wars movies.
Mark Hamill is the definitive voice of the Joker, but first and foremost he will always be a naïve young farm boy who became the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi. All of the Star Wars films could have looked much different if these actors hadn’t been cast. Here’s a look at 15 actors who were almost cast in Star Wars.
15 Karen Allen as Princess Leia
Karen Allen ended up starring in a George Lucas created franchise eventually. The actress was cast as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. She reprised that role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
14 Bill Murray or Chevy Chase as Han Solo
Bill Murray will forever be Peter Venkman, and his portrayal of the smarmy Ghostbuster will be his most important role in the pop culture lexicon. However, he was almost a part of a number of other pop culture phenomena.
13 Tupac Shakur as Mace Windu
Can you picture this extremely odd casting choice? Sam Jackson may be awesome, but he certainly doesn’t have the street cred that Tupac had. Tupac might have made Mace Windu the most menacing Jedi of all time.
12 Gary Oldman as General Grievous
According to The Guardian, union rules meant that Gary Oldman didn’t end up as the voice of General Grievous in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Oldman had been cast in the role and was set to start recording lines for the film, but because the film was not made with members of the Screen Actors Guild, Oldman dropped out of the role.
11 Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin Skywalker
Things could have turned out very differently for not only the Star Wars prequels but also the career of one of Hollywood’s finest actors if the role of Anakin Skywalker went to someone other than Hayden Christensen.
10 Orson Welles as Darth Vader
The voice of Darth Vader had to be powerful and menacing, and that’s why the man in the suit (David Prowse) did not provide the dialogue for cinema’s greatest villain. Instead, the booming and frightening voice of James Earl Jones was used. You don’t get much more intimidating than James Earl Jones.
9 Christopher Walken as Han Solo
At one point, George Lucas didn’t want to cast anyone from his film American Graffiti in Star Wars, and that’s why so many other actors were considered for the role of Han Solo before Lucas finally realized not casting Ford just because he wanted a fresh face was a mistake.
8 Ryan Phillippe or Paul Walker as Anakin Skywalker
A lot of actors were considered for the role of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, and other than Leonardo DiCaprio none of them are particularly impressive. As terrible as Hayden Christensen was, you should remember that it could have been worse. It could have been Ryan Phillippe or Paul Walker.
7 Mel Blanc as C-3PO
Mel Blanc was known as the man of 1000 voices, and he very well could have been the man of 1001 voices if he was cast as C-3PO in Star Wars: A New Hope. Mel Blanc was the greatest voice actor of all time, and he certainly could have been very convincing as the butler-like C-3P0.
6 James Caan as Han Solo
James Caan is perhaps a bit resentful that he didn’t end up playing Han Solo in the Star Wars movies. The Godfather actor was reportedly a top contender for the role.
5 Toshiro Mifune as Obi-Wan Kenobi
It’s no surprise that the works of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa heavily influenced George Lucas when he was developing the Star Wars saga. Lucas even almost cast one of the actors from Seven Samurai in Star Wars: A New Hope. Could you imagine a Japanese actor playing wise old Obi-Wan rather than screen legend Alec Guinness?
4 Jodie Foster as Princess Leia
Jodie Foster was in consideration for the role of Princess Leia, but it was at a time when the original concept for a new hope had the characters much younger. Foster’s hectic schedule and the decision to make Leia a young woman rather than a teenager meant that foster was not cast.
3 Christopher Lee as Grand Moff Tarkin
Legendary actor Christopher Lee did end up starring in a Star Wars film much later in his career. He played Sith apprentice Count Dooku, aka Darth Tyranus, in Attack of the Clones, and he reprised the role briefly in Revenge of the Sith.
2 Kurt Russell as Han Solo
This casting choice really doesn’t seem all that far-fetched today. After all, Kurt Russell has many of the same qualities as Harrison Ford. He can certainly play the smarmy and sarcastic rogue action hero nearly as well as Ford can. In 1977, this casting choice would have seemed a little bit out of place though.
1 Al Pacino as Han Solo
The Telegraph reported that Al Pacino was offered the role of Han Solo. "It was mine for the taking, but I didn’t understand the script," he said. Pacino is the greatest actor of all time, and even though Star Wars was nominated for best picture at the Oscars, it’s certainly not The Godfather, Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon.
Pacino probably made the right choice turning down the role in Star Wars. Sometimes actors are just too good to star in campy fare like Star Wars. It’s too bad he didn’t have the foresight to turn down Jack and Jill, too.
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