10 Casting Decisions That Hurt Star Wars (And 10 That Saved It)

At this point, almost everybody has at least heard of Star Wars. Spanning over 40 years, George Lucas created something wonderful back in 1977. Star Wars has had eight main movies and numerous spin-offs, which are now referred to as Star Wars Stories. 

While Star Wars became known all around the world. Some movies were better received than others. For example, the original trilogy was received far better than the prequel trilogy despite George Lucas being involved with both.

The Star Wars phenomenon was brought back in full force in 2015 when the first movie in the sequel trilogy was released, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Even today there is another trilogy planned along with more Star Wars Stories. In short, this new surge of Star Wars has only just begun. 

Throughout all of the movies, there have been iconic characters, even in the lackluster prequel trilogy. Some of these people were new actors at the time of the movie's release while others were already several years into their acting careers.

Despite the varied levels of acting abilities, some of these actors made Star Wars a unique space epic while others nearly ruined what George Lucas had created. 

As we prepare for Solo: A Star Wars Story let us punch it into light speed and take a look back on 10 Casting Decisions That Hurt Star Wars (And 10 That Saved It).

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20 Hurt: Alec Guinness

While younger Star Wars fans might imagine Ewan McGregor’s face when they picture Obi-Wan Kenobi, fans of the original trilogy think of Alec Guinness. 

Alec Guinness was born on April 2, 1914 in Marylebone, London and began acting at the age of 20. Guinness had sixty-one acting credits to his name before he passed on August 5, 2000.

While he starred in movies like Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), and The Horse’s Mouth (1958), his most memorable role was Star Wars in 1977.

People typically love his portrayal as the old hermit named Ben Kenobi, but Guinness is known for hating the Star Wars movies. He would often write to his friend Anne Kaufman in which he would call Star Wars Fairy-tale rubbish” and even complain about his dialogue saying “none of it makes my character clear or even bearable.”

Despite Alec Guinness truly hating Star Wars during shooting and after the movie's release, he was professional and his attitude never showed up on screen. As important as Ben Kenobi was in the first movie, Alec Guinness could have single-handedly ruined Star Wars since he despised the role. 

When fans discovered how McGregor felt about the series, many were upset.

Given the importance of McGregor's character in Star Wars, many fans were mad that the iconic role had been handed to an actor who couldn't take the role seriously.

19 Saved: Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu in Star Wars Attack of the Clones

Everybody knows Samuel L. Jackson. This guy has been in everything. From the array of Quentin Tarantino movies, to Snakes on a Plane, to his role as Nick Fury in the Marvel movies, Samuel L. Jackson is quite the diverse actor. 

Many moviegoers today know Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, but before Iron Man in 2008, Jackson was most commonly known for his role as Mace Windu.

There are not a lot of great things that came from the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but Mace Windu was one of the best parts.

Mace Windu first appeared in Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace. He was one of the last remaining Jedi Knight of the Galactic Republic before its downfall.

He was a member of the Jedi High Council and a Jedi General during the Clone Wars. Mace Windu would appear in all three of the prequels before he was seemingly eliminated after his duel with Chancellor Palpatine. 

While he showed up in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and TV show, Samuel L. Jackson never came back for any live-action Star Wars movies.

There were a lot of speeders flying by when Mace Windu was thrown from the window so who knows? Maybe Windu survived the fall and will one day wield his purple lightsaber again.

18 Hurt: Hayden Christensen

Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith

There is no doubt that the prequels get a lot of heat for not being nearly as good as the original trilogy. One reason for this is that George Lucas never really nailed the casting for Anakin Skywalker.

Hayden Christensen played the adult Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith. 

As all Star Wars fans know, Anakin Skywalker falls to the dark-side and becomes Darth Vader after losing his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode III.

In the '70s, George Lucas’ plan for Star Wars was too ambitious so he had to cut out a lot of material that depicted the rise of the Empire. This is why he made the prequels so that the movies sensibly would revolve around Darth Vader before he became Darth Vader. 

With a role as important as Anakin Skywalker and seeing the backlash that Lucasfilm received from Jake Lloyd’s portrayal of the character, you would think that they would have been more cautious with casting the adult Anakin.

Prior to 2002, Christensen had not been in anything that memorable, except maybe his role in the Goosebumps episode “Night of the Living Dummy III”. Lucasfilm seemed to have taken a gamble on a young 19-year-old actor and the results did not really pay off. 

17 Saved: Mark Hamill

Luke Skywalker is one of the most iconic Star Wars characters but it may not have turned out that way if it was not for Mark Hamill. William Kat auditioned for the role of Luke Skwalker alongside Kurt Russell as Han Solo, but the role, of course, went to Mark Hamill.

Hamill has an impressive filmography. He has over 300 acting credits a lot of which come from his voice acting career. Mark Hamill’s voice acting career is quite extensive but his most popular voice is probably that of The Joker in the Batman animated shows and Batman video games. 

Hamill was more than willing to return to the Star Wars universe because of his love for the character, but he is also a good sport when TV shows make fun of Luke.

Mark Hamill has voiced Luke Skywalker for episodes of both Robot Chicken and Family Guy, one of the many reasons why Mark Hamill is the greatest.

While he does have an impressive résumé when it comes to voice acting, his most known role is that of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. By 1977, young Mark Hamill had been in a lot of TV shows and TV movies, but Star Wars shot him into celebrity status.

16 Hurt: Ahmed Best

Ahmed Best as Jar Jar and on ForceCast

The Phantom Menace was one of the most anticipated movies in 1999. Sixteen years had passed since Star Wars: Episode VI- Return of the Jedi had been released, so fans were itching for their Star Wars fix especially since George Lucas had come back to direct again.

Despite earning $924 million worldwide and being nominated for three Oscars including best sound, best sound effects editing, and best visual effects, fans had mixed reactions to the prequel. 

People went into the movie thinking that there was no way it could be a disappointment, but ultimately it did not live up the hype.

One of the reasons why the movie was ridiculed was because of the character Jar Jar Binks played by Ahmed Best. Jar Jar Binks is without a doubt one of the most despised characters in the Star Wars lore.

Fans hate Jar Jar Binks because of his annoying voice and the overall silliness of the character. People hate him so much that the developers behind Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga put in an achievement that you could collect if you destroyed Jar Jar Binks twenty times. 

Fans also speculated that Jar Jar Binks was eliminated when Kylo Ren blew up Hosnian Prime in Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens but this has never been confirmed. Ahmed Best probably played the role the way it was written, but for many people, the role ruined Episode I. 

Perhaps if Jar Jar wouldn't have been quite as annoying if Best had given Jar Jar a different voice and been a bit less over-the-top.

15 Saved: James Earl Jones

James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in Star Wars

Darth Vader is the greatest villain of the Star Wars movies and honestly one of the most iconic villains in the history of cinema.

Darth Vader might have been popular with an average voice actor, but James Earl Jones’ epic voice made it a certainty that Darth Vader would become something great. 

James Earl Jones has voiced Darth Vader in all three of the original movies-- Revenge of the Sith, The Star Wars Holiday Special, Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Rebels, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Thankfully, filmmakers realized that James Earl Jones would forever be linked with Darth Vader and have stuck with him throughout the years. 

James Earl Jones’ voice is instantly recognizable. Whether you know him as the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King or the voice of a narrator, you will instantly be able to tell when he is in a movie or TV show.

Jones began acting in 1952 and his first feature film was as Lt. Lothar Zogg in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

James Earl Jones has had quite the career with a little less than 200 acting credits and an Honorary Award from the Academy Awards in 2012. Let’s hope for 200 more since there is no such thing as too much James Earl Jones. 

14 Hurt: Andy Serkis

Andy Serkis as Snoke in Star Wars The Last Jedi

After the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans were eager to see what Rian Johnson had in store for them in 2017 with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

The Last Jedi could have been an awesome early Christmas present for fans, but instead, it was like getting clothes from your weird aunt instead of getting what you really wanted.

Rian Johnson really divided fans with Episode VIII. Some people absolutely loved it, while others petitioned for it to be removed from the Star Wars canon. 

One thing that fans wanted from The Last Jedi were answers. Who were Rey’s parents? Who is the last Jedi? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? The movie did and didn’t answer some of these questions but one burning question left unanswered was Snoke’s identity. 

Supreme Leader Snoke was thought to be the next big bad guy but he only gets about five minutes of screen time before Kylo Ren stole his life.

Maybe this would have came as less of a blow if Snoke wasn’t played by such an incredible actor like Andy Serkis, but regardless it shook fans the wrong way.

Again, this is more of a case of bad writing than about Andy Serkis himself, but for many people, Snoke’s downfall ruined the movie for them. Fans expected a lot more from Serkis.

13 Saved: Daisy Ridley

Rey with the lightsaber in Star Wars The Last Jedi

Carrie Fisher gave the original trilogy an iconic female heroine, and Daisy Ridley seems to have done the same thing with the sequel trilogy. Rey seems to be widely accepted by fans thanks to the talented Daisy Ridley. 

Daisy Ridley really had not been in much before 2015. She began acting in 2012 and had only appeared in a few shorts and TV shows.

Rather than casting already famous actors and actresses for The Force Awakens, the casting department went with relatively unknown people and the result was a smash hit at the box office. 

The Force Awakens quickly launched Daisy Ridley into the spotlight giving her roles such as Miss Mary Debenham in Murder on the Orient Express and Tamara Kolma in the rumored Cloverfield sequel titled Kolma.

Daisy Ridley became an instant sensation overnight and even had to move from her home after she was spotted on Google Street View. 

Daisy Ridley’s portrayal of Rey not only launched her into stardom, but also inspired many young girls to be strong independent women. Much like girls looked up to Leia Organa, a new generation of girls are looking up to Rey.

Daisy Ridley not only saved Star Wars, but she also gave many young people a role model to look up to. 

12 Hurt: Billie Lourd

Billie Lourd in Star Wars The Force Awakens

Billie Lourd comes from a talented line of actresses. Both her grandmother and mother were famous actresses and Billie Lourd seems to be following in their footsteps. We are of course talking about the wonderful Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. 

The passing of two movie icons was rough for fans but even rougher on Billie Lourd. She lost her mother two days after Christmas and her grandmother a day later on December 28, 2016.

Billie Lourd only has five acting credits to her name and her breakout role was in a Star Wars movie. Billie Lourd plays the role of Lieutenant Connix in Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and reprised the role two years later for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

While her role in both were relatively small, Billie Lourd could have potentially ruined a Star Wars movie. 

Billie Lourd was originally in the running to play Rey in The Force Awakens before Daisy Ridley was cast. This could have been problematic not only because of Lourd’s acting experience but also because her mother was such an iconic character in the Star Wars movies. 

If Billie Lourd would have played Rey, fans would have been stuck on the fact that she is Carrie Fisher’s daughter and would have been severely disappointed when Rey’s parents turned out to be a couple of drunks.

Thankfully, Lourd has a smaller role in Star Wars and can shine in her own way in the shows Scream Queens and American Horror Story.

11 Saved: Ewan McGregor

Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith

The Star Wars prequels may be lacking in a lot of areas, but they did have a few good actors in popular roles.

One of those actors happened to be Trainspotting actor Ewan McGregor.

Obi-Wan Kenobi was definitely one of the highlights of the prequel trilogy and the casting department got a wonderful actor to play the character for three movies. 

McGregor portrays the younger version of Kenobi in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. McGregor has been acting since the early '90s and shows no signs of stopping.

He played the character Emmit Stussy in season three of Fargo and will star in the upcoming live-action Winnie the Pooh movie called Christopher Robin. 

Obi-Wan was interesting in the prequels for a number of reasons. Not only did Obi-Wan introduce us to the ever-stylish Padawan braid, but he also eliminated Darth Maul, became the master to Anakin Skywalker, and ultimately left his apprentice to perish after their duel. 

Ewan McGregor may have last appeared in Revenge of the Sith, but you can hear his voice along with Alec Guinness in Rey’s vision in The Force Awakens.

With Disney making Star Wars Stories, it would not be surprising to see an Obi-Wan Kenobi solo movie come down the pipeline sometime soon. 

10 Hurt: Jake Lloyd

The role of Anakin Skywalker seemed to be cursed in the prequel trilogy. Before Hayden Christensen would mess up the character, Jake Lloyd was given a shot as an adolescent version of Anakin. 

In 1999, Jake Lloyd was only 10 years old. Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace was basically the beginning and end of his acting career.

He had only been in a few TV movies, such as Unhook the Stars, and Jingle All the Way before his Star Wars career.

After The Phantom Menace was met with mixed reviews, Lloyd was only in one more movie called Madison and voiced Anakin Skywalker in seven Star Wars games. 

Jake Lloyd’s acting career was over because he could not handle the harsh criticisms of his acting.

At only ten years old, it's hard to not feel sorry for him even though his acting really was sub-par.

Things only got worse for Lloyd as he grew up and began getting into trouble with the law. Lloyd was arrested in 2015 for resisting arrest after a high-speed chase and sent to jail but later diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was then moved to a psychiatric facility. 

Jake Lloyd is not solely responsible for ruining The Phantom Menace, but his acting certainly did not help it. 

9 Saved: Gwendoline Christie

Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma via Vanity Fair

Gwendoline Christie started acting in 2007 and quickly started to gain traction in Hollywood. Her breakout role didn’t come from a movie but rather on HBO for the hit show Game of Thrones.

Gwendoline Christie started playing the character Brienne of Tarth in 2012 and things just kept looking up for her since then. 

She had a very, very small role in The Zero Theorem with Christoph Waltz in 2013 and in 2015 landed a role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 as Commander Lyme. That same year, she would play Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens. 

Phasma worked with Kylo Ren and General Hux in order to bring the First Order to power but things do not go well for her. Despite being an experienced First Order commander, she is easily captured by Finn, Han Solo, and Chewbacca.

Despite not living up to her hype in The Force Awakens and barely redeeming herself in The Last Jedi, Gwendoline Christie did save a certain element of Star Wars. 

Captin Phasma brought something new to the usual stormtrooper. She was the first female stormtrooper and had a unique look covered in silver armor with a cape.

The writing was not great for Phasma, but Gwendoline Christie did what she could with the role. 

8 Hurt: Joey Fatone

This one should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is a fun story none the less. Yes, Joey Fatone from the boy band *NSYNC was in a Star Wars movie. 

While Attack of the Clones was still in production, it was announced by Lucasfilm that the members of *NSYNC would be filming cameos to have in the movie. Obviously, most fans hated this idea and there was a severe fan backlash. 

JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and his brother Steven all filmed two cameos as Jedi Knights in Attack of the Clones. One cameo simply featured them walking past Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda and another scene showed them fighting in the Battle of Genosis. 

The scenes that were thought to have been cut but one scene may have still made it into the final cut.

Many fans, including members of the Fatone family, believe that they can see Joey Fatone in the background of the scene. In the scenes Joey filmed, he was supposed to be battling droids while wielding a blue lightsaber and sporting a shaved head with a mohawk. 

That description certainly matches the scene depicted above and thankfully it was a super low-key cameo. Anything else would have been too distracting.

If anything could have ruined a Star Wars movie, it would be an *NSYNC cameo, so while it cannot be 100% confirmed, it is worth including. 

7 Saved: Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher is one of the members of the iconic trio from the original trilogy. As most people know, Carrie Fisher played the character Leia Organa, commonly referred to as Princess Leia.

She played the character in the first three Star Wars movies, as well as in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Her character was left alive and well at the end of Episode VIII so it is a mystery what JJ Abrams will decide to do with the role in Episode XI. 

In 1977, Carrie was a fresh actress at the age of 21 only starring in a TV movie with Debbie Reynolds as a girl scout in 1969 and a movie called Shampoo in 1975.

The '80s had highs and lows for Fisher. By 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back was released, Fisher’s drug abuse was in full effect.

She has even admitted that she did substances while filming scenes on Hoth. She was in multiple projects throughout the '80s including The Blues Brothers in 1980, Return of the Jedi in 1986, and The Burbs in 1989.

Despite her subtance problem, Carrie Fisher was seen as a strong independent woman in Star Wars, which gave young girls a role model to look up to.

To this day, Princess Leia is still one of the most recognized characters in Star Wars thanks to Carrie Fisher. 

6 Hurt: Daniel Logan

Star Wars movies do not have a great track record when it comes to recruiting young children in roles. At the age of 15, Daniel Logan would play a young Boba Fett in the second prequel movie, Attack of the Clones. 

Many people hated the idea of having a young Boba Fett in the prequels since it took away from Boba Fett’s mystery and presence he left in the original trilogy.

Some fans argue that the same thing happened with Anakin Skywalker throughout the first two prequels and its hard to argue with that opinion. 

Boba Fett is a fan favorite bounty hunter known for being an all-around awesome character.

We didn’t ever see his face, except for a disappointing set photo, which left Fett shrouded in mystery. Having his father Jango Fett appear in Attack of the Clones was one thing, but having a moody 15-year-old represent a fan-favorite character was a bad choice.

It really is not Daniel Logan’s fault since he had such little acting experience, but the performance left fans with a bad taste in their mouths. 

Daniel Logan would go on to voice Boba Fett in Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show and play a character named Captain Fett in Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens. 

5 Saved: Ian McDiarmid

Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars

Not many people can say that they were in the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy, but Ian McDiarmid is one of the select few.

McDiarmid played Darth Sidious also known as Darth Sidious in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and all three of the prequels. Darth Vader was seen as a ruthless leader of the Empire but Palpatine was the truly wicked one.

While George Lucas tried to work on a lot of character development during the prequels most people thought it ruined the reputations of original trilogy characters. That being said, the story arc for Emperor Palpatine was interesting. 

While the prequels did not do much for the Star Wars universe, it was compelling to see Sheev Palpatine’s rise to power.

Palpatine was immediately intrigued in The Phantom Menace when Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi brought Anakin Skywalker back to Naboo and things only escalated in the two sequels.

Sidious was evil enough in the original trilogy, but showing how he brought down the entire Jedi order as well as manipulating Anakin was a nice addition to his character development. 

Some people may not be able to pull off a character twice with a sixteen-year gap in between, but Ian McDiarmid was able to and slightly save the prequels. 

4 Hurt: Liam Neeson

Let’s begin by saying that Liam Neeson in no way shape or form ruined Star Wars. In fact, his role as Qui-Gon Jinn was one of the best parts of Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace. While he ended up having a great role in the first prequel, it could have potentially been a horrible casting decision. 

At the age of 47, Liam Neeson had been acting for 21 years before he got a role in Star Wars. Next to Samuel L. Jackson, Liam Neeson was one of the more known actors in the Star Wars prequels.

It was worrisome that his stardom could be distracting in the movie and that his work in serious films such as Schindler’s List could potentially be a problem for a movie that is advertised as a weird fantasy epic.

Liam Neeson ended up fulfilling the role perfectly and creating a character that fans wanted more of.

With an Obi-Wan Kenobi solo movie potentially in the works, fans could possibly be seeing more of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon but only time will tell.

For now, fans will just have to settle for his one-time appearance in the less than perfect Phantom Menace. 

However, even then, some fans found his accent jarring in the movies and couldn't take his performance seriously.

3 Saved: Ray Park

Where Are They Now Ray Park in Star Wars and Jinn

We’ve been over this, but once again, The Phantom Menace was not great. While there were not many redeeming factors for the movie, one high point of the movie was Darth Maul.

Maul was Emperor Palpatine’s apprentice before Maul was seemingly terminated by the hand of Obi-Wan Kenobi. We say seemingly terminated since Maul actually survives his traumatic wounds, as depicted in Star Wars: Rebels.  

While the actor behind Darth Maul was covered in heavy red and black makeup with a dozen horns, he was still able to make the character unique and give him a lot of emotion. 

The man behind the makeup for The Phantom Menace was none other than Ray Park. Park may not be as recognizable as someone like Samuel L. Jackson, but that is because his face is often covered by makeup, like in Episode I, or masks like in the G.I. Joe movies.

Ray Park has a martial arts background, which allowed Darth Maul to be able to jump around and do crazy stunts. 

Darth Maul was one of the few redeeming factors for Episode I. He was the first Sith to be shown with a double hilted lightsaber and he was truly horrifying especially for younger viewers.

Even though he did not show up again in the live action movies, Ray Park ensured that Darth Maul would never be forgotten. 

2 Hurt: David Prowse

The name David Prowse may not be the first name you think of when you see Darth Vader, but his role in the original trilogy was crucial to its success.

Despite this, David Prowse nearly ruined-- and not just Darth Vader, but Star Wars in general.

David Prowse had been acting since the '50s when he was 21, starring mainly in TV series like The Edge of Night, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Codename. Prowse also played Julian in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange.

While he had been in numerous projects before his Star Wars career, Prowse’s most known role was in the original trilogy.

For those who do not know, David Prowse played Darth Vader in Star Wars. Not to be confused with James Earl Jones, who gave Darth Vader a voice, David Prowse would be the man inside the suit.

Despite Prowse playing one of the most talked about characters, he is often forgotten since his voice was replaced by James Earl Jones for all three movies.

Even in Return of the Jedi when Darth Vader’s helmet was removed, it was not David Prowse to be in the spotlight but rather Sebastian Shaw.

While David Prowse has more than enough reason to be bitter with George Lucas, his English accent just wouldn’t have worked for Darth Vader and could have ruined one of the greatest movie villains ever. 

However, many fans do not believe that Prowse acted well as Darth Vader, as a certain "noo" scene often comes to mind.

1 Saved: Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford Han Solo Star Wars

With Solo: A Star Wars Story coming out soon, there is no doubt that Harrison Ford did an incredible job as Han Solo for four movies.

Ford is one of the most recognizable faces in the Star Wars saga for old fans and new fans since he starred in the original trilogy and also Star Wars: The Force Awakens. 

Starring alongside Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill made him a member of the iconic Star Wars trio, as well as a superstar. Before Star Wars, Harrison Ford dabbled in acting but was mainly a carpenter even working for Francis Ford Coppola as a carpenter at one point. 

Harrison Ford only read lines for Star Wars because George Lucas wanted the actors auditioning for Han, Luke, and Leia to read together so he could see the group chemistry.

Lucas had five actors for Luke and five actors for Leia, but only four guys for Han. This caused him to pull in Ford to simply read lines but not actually audition. 

Obviously, Ford did better than the other actors since he got the part but that was only the beginning of his career.

He continued to get roles that would become fan favorites such as Indiana Jones and Rick Deckard. We may see a shortage of Harrison Ford in 2018, but he will return in 2019 for The Secret Life of Pets 2 and in 2020 for Indiana Jones 5. 


Who are your favorite Star Wars actors? Are there any other actors whose casting hurt the movies? Let us know in the comments!

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