The original Star Wars trilogy remains one of the most culturally influential franchises in film history, making icons out of its stars like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. And while it's hard to imagine any other actors in their roles, we came very close to having a much different looking Star Wars cast.
Before cameras even started rolling, George Lucas searched for the perfect Han Solo, Princess Leia and other soon-to-be famous characters. Many famous faces were considered but things didn't pan out for one reason or another. While we're thrilled with the cast we eventually got, it's fun to look back and imagine what might have been. Check out some of the famous actors who were almost cast in the original Star Wars trilogy.
9 Sylvester Stallone
As beloved as Star Wars is now, it's easy to forget that the idea probably sounded pretty "out there" for the actors at the time. Space movies were not exactly the most prestigious of cinema at the time and many actors had a hard time wrapping their heads around this bizarre world.
One such actor was Sylvester Stallone who auditioned for Han Solo. By his own admission, Stallone was all wrong for the part. He recalls telling Lucas in the audition, "Let me just make it easy for you. I would look like crap in spandex leotards and a ray gun. Guys in space don't have this face, I get it."
8 Glynn Turman
Glynn Turman might not be a household name but he has been a solid character actor for a number of decades. He has appeared in such films as Gremlins, Cooley High and recently Bumblebee, and had a memorable role in The Wire. However, it's hard not to imagine how drastically Turman's career would have changed if he was cast as Han Solo.
Though Turnman was apparently a real contender for the role, when he saw the film he did realize which role he auditioned for. He explains, "I didn’t see up there on the screen what part I was [auditioning] for. So to me, I said, ‘Oh, they cut the part of the black guy out.’ I had no idea that it was for the part of Han Solo."
7 Kurt Russell
Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can now actually find some of those early Star Wars auditions on Youtube. It's a lot of fun to see Ford and Hamill vying for the roles that would make them famous, as well as seeing some of the actors who didn't get the part.
Among those classic audition tapes, you can find a young Kurt Russell reading for the film. Apparently, Russell was up for both the Luke Skywalker role as well as the Han Solo role. While he didn't get either part, he gave a solid audition. It's no surprise he managed to build a huge career even without Star Wars.
6 Amy Irving
Many film fans will know about Star Wars unique casting process. As the story goes, George Lucas held joint auditions alongside his director friend Brian De Palma who was prepping his film Carrie. One Hollywood legend goes that Sissy Spacek was offered the role of Princess Leia while Carrie Fisher was offered the title role in Carrie.
Fisher herself has denied these rumors, but there was apparently one Carrie actor who came close to nabbing the Leia role. Amy Irving, who played nice girl Sue in De Palma's film was apparently the actress the two directors fought over the most.6. Nick Nolte
Despite the outlandish nature of the film, Star Wars was a film of some interest for some of Hollywood's biggest names of the day. That was especially true of the Han Solo role. The dry-witted and rougish space smuggler was rumored to have circled a number of famous actors.
Nick Nolte confirms he was up for the role, but like Stallone, admits he was poorly suited, simply stating, "I'd have been kind of a goofy 'Star Wars guy." It seems all these years later, Nolte had a change of heart as he'll join the Star Wars universe in the upcoming The Mandalorian.
5 Yaphet Kotto
While turning down the chance to be in A New Hope can be somewhat understandable given the uncertainty of such a strange film, to turn down the subsequent sequels is a different story. But that's just what actor Yaphet Kotto did when Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner offered him the role of Lando Calrissian.
Kotto was just coming off his role in Alien and felt that doing another space movie might lead to him being typecast. To his credit, he built a strong and versatile career after turning down the role.
4 James Caan
As popular as Star Wars is with audiences, it might not be the type of film every actor is hoping to work on. With the focus on costumes and special effects combined with the sci-fi dialogue, some actors look at such material as beneath their talents. James Caan held such an opinion when he was offered the role of Han Solo.
The Godfather actor refused the part saying, "They didn't want an actor. That's why they got Harrison Ford." That seems like a rather unnecessary jab at his fellow actor. Maybe Caan is still regretting turning down that part all these years later.
3 Jodie Foster
Apparently, George Lucas' early ideas for Princess Leia were much younger than where the final film ended up. In those early stages, a teenage Jodie Foster was being considered for the role. Foster was already a hard-working actor and it seems a busy schedule was to blame for her passing on the part.
She explains, "I was doing two films back-to-back at the time. It would have been fun. But my career would have been different, and I'm happy with the one I've got so I don't really regret it." We have to agree that her career worked out pretty well regardless.
2 Orson Welles
Even though he never appears on screen in the series, James Earl Jones gives one of the franchise's most iconic performance. Jones lent his instantly recognizable deep voice to Darth Vader, making the character one of the most memorable villains in film history.
As perfect as he is for the role, Jones wasn't the only one considered for Vader's voice. George Lucas was initially thinking of having Hollywood legend Orson Wells voice the character. However, he thought Welles' voice might be too recognizable and once Jones read for the part, the choice became obvious.
1 Robert Englund
One of the most unexpected actors to almost have played Han Solo is Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund. Long before becoming the horror icon, Englund was one of the many actors who read for the part. While he didn't get it, he did manage to change Star Wars history.
After the audition, Englund took the script home and showed it to his friend, Mark Hamill. He convinced Hamill that he was right for the Luke Skywalker role and told him to audition. The rest is Hollywood history.