Star Wars is one of those franchises that has affected pop culture in a way that very few other things have. Almost everything about the movies (especially the original trilogy) is iconic.
From the characters and dialog to the sound and score, these things have stuck in the collective consciousness for decades and their influence can still be felt in modern blockbusters today.
Star Wars is a phenomenon and judging by the sheer amount of conversation surrounding The Last Jedi, that isn’t going to change for quite a while.
However, what if things were different? What if George Lucas had not refined certain beloved characters or what if Marcia Lucas hadn’t stripped A New Hope down in editing? It’s hard to imagine now, but if these things hadn’t happened, Star Wars may not have been one of the biggest movie franchises of all time.
Thanks to the internet, we can now peruse some of the earlier drafts and rough cuts of the movies and see how things changed.
Here are the 18 Star Wars Characters Who Were Almost Completely Different.
18. Luke Skywalker
Let’s start with Luke Skywalker himself. The journey from simple farmboy dreaming of adventure to a badass Jedi Knight is incredibly compelling and makes him a fantastic protagonist.
However, in early drafts of the script, Luke wasn’t even the main character. That fell to Annikin Starkiller, son of Jedi Kane Starkiller. When Annikin’s brother Deak is killed by a Sith Knight, Kane takes the young Annikin to an old Jedi general named… Luke Skywalker.
In the first couple of drafts of “The Star Wars”, that was the idea. Luke Skywalker played the Obi-Wan Kenobi part and takes Annikin under his wing as his Padawan learner. The basic elements of Luke are there in Annikin, but he’s a lot cockier than Luke ever was.
There was even a draft where the Starkiller protagonist was female, changing the story quite drastically (especially in the relationship with Han Solo), but the lead was changed back to male in the very next draft.
The Force Awakens‘ protagonist Rey started life as feisty scavenger named Kira. Screenwriter Michael Arndt describes a rather Tank-Girl sounding character, remarking that she was a “loner, hothead, gearhead bada**.”
The essence of that character can be certainly seen in the final product, considering that Rey is handy in a fight, has a real affinity with machines and seems to live a rather isolated existence.
One of Rey’s key motivations throughout The Force Awakens is her desire to return to Jakku, in a seemingly vain attempt to reunite with her parents who abandoned her years before. It’s interesting that in rough drafts of the script, it was the polar opposite.
Kira couldn’t wait to get off the forsaken Jakku and dreamed of far-off space adventure, watching the ships come and go in the second-hand ship and vehicle lot where she worked. This was probably intended to be more of a direct Luke Skywalker parallel, but it was switched up in later drafts.
Kira’s backstory would have also accounted for the piloting skills Rey has in the movie as she would spend her free time training on flight simulators, ready for the day she could finally leave Jakku behind.
16. Boba Fett
Despite having next-to-no screentime, bounty hunter Boba Fett soon became a fan favorite. He was even hyped up as the main villain for Return of the Jedi, back when George Lucas had planned to finish the Vader storyline in a second trilogy of sequels, but nothing came of it.
When it came time to make the prequel trilogy, Lucas considered making Vader and Boba brothers. As to why, your guess is as good as ours.
The fact that they both wear recognizable helmets? While it wouldn’t make much sense, it would at least offer an explanation as to why Boba is seemingly the only character apart from Palpatine that Vader has any respect for and how Fett is able to backchat Vader without receiving the customary Force choking.
Apparently, Oscar winning editor and George’s ex-wife Marcia Lucas stepped in and talked him out of it. Lucas later admitted that the idea was “too hokey.” We’re with him on that one.
15. Han Solo
Han Solo is such a strong character it’s almost inconceivable to imagine him any other way. He very nearly was though.
Lucas’ original concept for Solo was that he was going to be a tall, green skinned alien with gills and no nose. After penning this idea, Lucas scrapped it because he felt that audiences needed a human being to connect with.
In the second draft, Han was a burly, bearded pirate-esque man presumably because of his smuggler status. Lucas also apparently wanted a black actor for the job. In the early stages of development of The Force Awakens, the older Han was going to be a down-and-out drunk and concept art showed him rocking a dishevelled beard and a duster jacket.
Further sketches showed Rey and Finn meeting him in a seedy bar, not dissimilar to the Mos Eisley Cantina in which he makes his debut in A New Hope.
14. Darth Vader
Even if you somehow haven’t seen Star Wars, you’re probably familiar with the revelation that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father.
It’s one of the most famous movies scenes ever and has been replayed, talked about and parodied countless times. In one of The Empire Strikes Back‘s earliest treatments, writer Leigh Brackett had different ideas for Luke’s parentage.
Luke ends up on a then-unnamed bog planet and talks to a creature that happens to be a Jedi Master who teaches him to summon Force ghosts. Luke does and not only does Obi-Wan appear, but Luke’s father appears too.
The script only refers to him as “Master Skywalker” and he tells Luke how proud he is of him. He reveals that he has a twin sister (not Leia, but a character named Nellith) and the scene ends with Luke taking the Jedi oath and being knighted by the assembled Jedi elders.
In terms of classic movie double acts, Han Solo and Chewbacca have to be up there. Their friendship could have been given a new twist in Revenge of the Sith if original plans had gone through. While spending time on Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk, audiences would have been shown a 10 year old Han Solo.
The idea was that Chewbacca had found the orphan boy and taken care of him, turning their partnership from being equals to being more like father and son.
The young Solo appearance would have only been a cameo, but he did have a line: “I found part of a transmitter droid near the east bay. I think it’s still sending and receiving signals.” to which Yoda replies “Good, good. Track this we can back to the source. Find General Grievous, we might.”
When The Empire Strikes Back rolled around, George Lucas knew he wanted Luke to meet an unconventional Jedi master. He reportedly felt that a combination of animatronics and puppetry wouldn’t convince audiences.
So he hit on the notion of having a monkey in prosthetics play the character. They even taught the monkey to hold Yoda’s cane.
Stories vary on what eventually convinced Lucas and director Irvin Kirschner to go the puppet route. One story suggests that the monkey couldn’t be trained to keep the mask on, whereas another has the Star Wars crew – many of them having just finished making 2001: A Space Odyssey – advising Lucas to not work with apes if he could help it.
We can’t say we’re not at least a little curious to see how the simian Yoda would have turned out, but we should be very glad Frank Oz stepped in and made cinematic history in the process. A good call, that was. Relieved, we are.
11. Emperor Palpatine
It seems George Lucas had always envisioned a mysterious hooded figure as the emperor of the Empire, but he definitely got better at naming characters. In “The Star Wars” the Palpatine character was named Emperor Cos Dashit (no, really). He was basically the same big bad, but he had a Snidely Whiplash-style mustache.
In the prequels, a deleted scene from Revenge of the Sith basically makes Darth Sidious/Palpatine Anakin’s father. In the final version of the movie, Sidious talks to Anakin about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise.
The whole thing hints that Sidious may have killed his master and influenced the Force in order to create Anakin in the first place, as his was an apparent virgin birth.
In an earlier draft of the script, Sidious flat-out tells him that’s what he did, adding the line “You might say I’m your father” to which Anakin replies “That’s impossible!” in reference to the famous Vader/Luke confrontation in The Empire Strikes Back.
10. Kylo Ren
In one of Michael Arndt’s early Force Awakens treatments, the character that would become Kylo Ren started as “Jedi Killer.” Jedi Killer went through a number of different looks.
One had a red mask with a black circle in the middle, a design that was given to the Guavian Death Gang in the final film. Another look proved to serve as the inspiration for the Inquisitors in Star Wars: Rebels.
One version of Jedi Killer showed him able to feed off star matter, depicting him in a light-bathed chamber meditating, presumably an echo of Vader’s meditation chamber briefly glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back.
As it seems like the writers considered giving a sidekick to every single character in The Force Awakens at one point or another, Jedi Killer/Kylo was apparently going to have a vicious-looking floating droid following him around, similar to the nasty interrogation droid from A New Hope.
9. Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s iconic death in A New Hope is arguably one of the biggest scenes in the entire franchise. It’s a character defining moment for Luke Skywalker and the start of him learning the true nature of the Force.
This apparently was not the original intention. In sharing pictures of the shooting script on Twitter, Peter Mayhew, aka Chewbacca, dropped a bombshell. Obi-Wan originally survived his fight with Darth Vader.
According to rumors, it was Marcia Lucas who suggested the change and it may have been one of the reasons why Alec Guinness would later appear rather bitter about his Star Wars experience. The fact that the idea made it all the way to the shooting script means that the change may have happened fairly late in the process.
It’s hard to fathom how the movie would have played out if Obi-Wan lived, but it could have had a huge impact on the sequels, especially as there would have been no obvious need for Luke to seek out Yoda in the first place.
First Order Stormtrooper Finn (aka FN-2187 or “traitor” depending on your allegiance) defecting and joining the Resistance is the audience’s way in to The Force Awakens, but when the character was originally conceived he was very different. Early ideas for the character was that he was going to be a roguish smuggler by the name of Sam.
From early concept art, we know that Sam was a Han Solo type, a young white male whose attitude would be very reminiscent of everyone’s favorite scruffy looking nerf herder. Sam was described as “pure charisma.”
When it became apparent that the smuggler concept was a non-starter, the Episode VII writers were struggling to come up with a unique backstory for their male lead.
7. The Ewoks
Before the word “Gungan” had ever been uttered, the Ewoks were the most divisive presence in the Star Wars movies. Some loved their teddy bear cuteness, others… not so much.
Ewok haters may be even more annoyed to know that the Ewoks weren’t the original plan for Return of the Jedi.
Instead, the Empire would have run into an army of Wookiees, trained to fight and use heavy artillery and other high-tech weaponry by the main characters throughout the movie. Perhaps Chewie turning up in the AT-ST Walker is a nod to this.
After musing about the Vietnam War, Lucas decided to have his third act contain an allegory for the conflict. He liked the idea of an indigenous enemy able to hold their own against far superior numbers and firepower and thus the Ewoks were created.
This cut sequence doesn’t change Greedo’s character too drastically, but it does add some backstory to one of the most disposable, yet somehow still iconic characters in the Star Wars universe.
As we’re all aware, Greedo meets a sticky end in A New Hope when he confronts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Han shoots first (we’re not backing down on that one), and Greedo ends up a smoking carcass in the cantina booth.
If you happen to be making your way through the deleted scenes from The Phantom Menace, you’ll come across a sequence when kid Anakin fighting a familiar-looking Rodian.
Qui-Gon breaks up the fight and it turns out that the alien had accused Anakin of cheating in his podrace. Ever the diplomat, Qui-Gon suggests that Anakin learn to tolerate his opinion and the alien returns to his friends.
It’s then revealed that the Rodian is indeed a kid Greedo and his friends warn him to be careful who he messes with.
5. Jabba The Hutt
We all know space gangster Jabba the Hutt as a gross slug-like creature with a head like a melted frog and a horrible slimy tongue. He wasn’t always that way.
He was originally just a big man in a furry jacket. In addition to that, he was set to make his debut in A New Hope, with a scene between Han Solo and Jabba discussing Solo’s debts. In that particular scene, Jabba was played by actor Declan Mulholland.
According to Lucas, he was going to superimpose a stop-motion creature over the footage later, but ran out of time and money. Due to this, the sequence hit the cutting room floor.
When it came time to do the Special Editions and Blu-ray versions of his trilogy, Lucas reinstated the scene and pasted a CGI Jabba over the top of Mulholland’s performance to match the continuity between films.
The scene is a questionable addition since, although it reminds the audience of the price on Solo’s head, it’s an awkward sequence, especially when Han purposefully treads on the dangerous slug’s tail in front of his men whilst asking for a loan extension.
You’d be hard pressed to find a Star Wars fan who doesn’t have a soft spot for R2-D2, but it’s difficult to imagine the version of Artoo found in preliminary drafts of “The Star Wars” would have the same all-ages appeal and cute factor.
Artwo, as he was known, was described as a battered claw robot with a face that was a jumbled mass of wires surrounding a central eye. Rough drafts even had Artwo speaking plain English instead of his signature beeps and whistles.
Not only that, but Artwo was actually a bitter, cynical little droid who spent most of his screentime being selfish and deeply sarcastic. This was dropped and sound designer Ben Burtt decided to make R2-D2 more “like a toddler” with energetic and inarticulate sounds.
While the intended bitterness is gone, it’s pretty likely the sarcasm remains judging by some of C3-PO’s responses and reactions to his ambiguous bleeps.
Speaking of droids, the famous duo of Artoo and Threepio and their old married couple dynamic would have also played out very differently if George Lucas hadn’t met Anthony Daniels. The original pitch for C3-PO was that he was meant to be more like a sleazy used car salesman, willing to say anything that he felt people wanted to hear.
Threepio was to have a Bronx accent too, with Lucas looking to hire a mime to provide the physical performance. George Lucas was heavily inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s film The Hidden Fortress and especially loved the two peasant narrators.
He intended for them to be a chalk and cheese pairing, with R2-D2 a roughed up tripod with claws and C3PO to be a sleek and elegant droid inspired by the film Metropolis. The character changes happened after Lucas talked with Anthony Daniels, an accomplished Shakespearean actor with experience in the art of mime.
Daniels was perfect for the role and as a result, Threepio went from a Bronx sleazeball to a prissy British butler type. The rest is history.
2. Poe Dameron
In the earliest drafts of Episode VII, Poe Dameron was named John Doe. Not only that, but he was a long way away from the man we’re introduced to in The Force Awakens.
Doe started as one of Kira’s companions before being bumped up to being a Jedi. When that didn’t work out, he was reimagined as a black bounty hunter in his 30s/40s.
The idea of giving bounty hunter Doe a Wookie sidekick was toyed with, even making it to the concept art stage before the whole thing was thrown out and started again from scratch.
After nailing down the character of a brave Resistance ace pilot and meeting with Oscar Isaac, J.J. Abrams changed his plans to kill him off in the first act of the movie, which does explain why Poe disappears from proceedings for an extended period of time in the final cut before making a triumphant return in the Battle of Takodana.
1. Jar-Jar Binks
Widely considered by many to be the worst Star Wars character ever, Jar-Jar Binks became a hate magnet for disappointed Star Wars fans worldwide after the release of The Phantom Menace.
The prequels have been torn apart by the internet at large, but there have been some interesting theories borne from it. One of these was that Jar-Jar was actually a secret villain and that all of his annoying, clumsy goofiness was a ruse, ready for a dramatic rug-pull in Episode II.
Actor Ahmed Best even spoke about the theory, saying that some of the fan’s ideas were part of the original pitch before Lucas changed his mind after fan vitriol.
Whether there’s any merit for this is up for debate, but one thing we are sure of is that Jar-Jar could have been an even goofier presence.
Concept art reveals that Binks originally had a dog-like creature sidekick called a blarth. It apparently drooled excessively and had a long, prehensile tail. Fun fact: it’s still part of the current Disney canon.
Do you know of any other Star Wars characters who were almost completely different? Sound off in the comments!
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