With a cult-like following and millions of fans across the globe, Star Wars is easily one of the most popular franchises in pop culture.
While the majority of people that own a TV have seen at least one movie in the series, there are also numerous die-hard fans that know Star Wars inside and out – all dialog lines, tiny details in each frame, and pretty much everything about all the actors that were ever cast.
However, what many people probably don’t know is that there’s a long list of both world-renowned and lesser-known actors that were almost got a role in Star Wars; in this article, we’ll talk about ten of them, starting with:
1. Gary Oldman in the role of General Grievous
Gary Oldman acted in a number of exceptionally popular movies; from The infamous Fifth Element, over Batman: The Dark Knight, to lending his voice in Kung Fu Panda, Gary’s easily one of the most prolific names in the American acting scene.
As the story goes, he almost voiced one of the most famous robotic Star Wars villains – General Grievous. Due to a dispute between the Screen Actors Guild and the movie’s producers, Gary abandoned the project out of solidarity with his fellow actors.
2. Jodie Foster as Princess Leia
Having starred in a myriad of movies across multiple genres, Jodie Foster is someone that has managed to connect with multiple generations of cinephiles and movie lovers. She cut her teeth in Taxi Driver, which was being produced around the same time as the fourth episode of Star Wars called A New Hope.
Decades later, Jodie was interviewed about her thoughts on choosing to go on with the Taxi Driver movie despite being invited by Lucas to take on the role of Princess Leia, and according to her, she harbors no regrets.
3. Kurt Russell in the role of Han Solo
Harrison Ford’s Han Solo performance is so organic that most Star Wars fans couldn’t imagine someone else in that role. However, not many people know that he got the slot by the length of a straw and that this position could’ve been awarded to several other high-profile actors.
Just like Jodie, Kurt submitted his tape to George Lucas with another project on stand-by. Lucas was apparently too indecisive about featuring Kurt Russel as Han Solo, but there are rumors that he could’ve played Luke Skywalker instead.
Having a secured slot in a Western movie, Kurt moved out of the Star Wars camp, leaving the role of Han Solo open. Fun fact – Sylvester Stallone also auditioned for the role of Han Solo, but he never passed the initial casting session.
4. Al Pacino in the role of Han Solo
Unlike Stallone and Russel, Al Pacino didn’t want to play the role of Han Solo in Star Wars. He was directly invited to the screening, but he supposedly turned this opportunity down on the basis of ‘not understanding its script’. After reaching worldwide renown with the Godfather, Pacino was offered the Han Solo slot, which as he stated, he couldn’t wrap his head around.
5. Bill Murray in the role of Han Solo
The Han Solo slot was probably the most contested one, and among the many actors that were vying for it was none other than Bill Murray, the lead star of the Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Stripes, St. Vincent, Scrooged, and numerous other titles.
6. Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of Anakin Skywalker
Anakin Skywalker, which ended up becoming one of the most infamous supervillains of all time later on in the Star Wars universe, was brought to life on TV screens by Hayden Christensen, a world-class Canadian actor that ended up having a remarkably successful career during and after Star Wars.
The majority of Star Wars fans know that George Lucas didn’t assign this role lightly. In fact, he had multiple actors that became superstars later on in their careers in mind. Leonardo DiCaprio was one of them, and he was among the top considerations due to the tremendous level of fame he got after starring in Titanic.
7. Christian Bale in the role of Anakin Skywalker
From the Machinist, over the American Psycho, to the Batman himself, Christian Bale has proved that he could fit into any movie role and excel in it. Numerous actors, both well-known and otherwise, were screened for the role of Anakin, and rumors that he almost got the role are widespread. Christian never confirmed or denied that he took part in the screening, though.
8. Jim Henson in the role of Yoda
The creator of the iconic Muppets, Jim Henson, wasn’t supposed to actually ‘play’ the role of Yoda, the eldest of the Jedi Masters, but he was one of the prime candidates that would’ve voiced him.
Lucas’s team collaborated with Henson while creating the concept of Yoda, although Jim had to dismiss this opportunity due to an overcrowded schedule with The Muppets. According to Star Wars producers, Jim Henson exchanged valuable technological information with Lucas that was invaluable for the design of Yoda.
9. Tupac Amaru Shakur in the role of Mace Windu
The late Tupac is one of the most recognized and respected rappers of all time. He took part in the screening for the Mace Windu role, but sadly, his untimely death prevented him from taking part in the Star Wars franchise. Samuel L. Jackson took the role, and yet another fun fact is that Mace wasn’t meant to have a purple lightsaber- Samuel proposed this idea to Lucas to make him stand out in the clashes with Siths.
10. Michael Jackson in the role of Jar-Jar Binks
Binks is one of the most unique characters in the Star Wars universe, and he would’ve been even more exotic if he was voiced by Michael Jackson. According to numerous sources, Michael almost got the role, but he wanted to physically ‘act’ the part while Lucas wanted to go with the computer-generated imagery approach, which he ultimately did.
There are numerous actors that could’ve changed the Star Wars franchise forever. Some of your favorites are probably counted among them, and some of them would probably take you by surprise.
Whether you’re gearing up for a Star Wars trivia quiz or simply wanted to learn more about this amazing series, we hope that this article was as fun as it was educational to read. Make sure you’re staying safe in these times we are all going through and have a good one, guys!