George Lucas’ Star Wars introduced the moviegoing public to some of the most iconic characters ever created, and the director found the perfect actors to play those roles. His go-to leading man Harrison Ford had the cool, roguish charisma to truly embody Han Solo, while Carrie Fisher had the dry comic wit and lovable energy to bring Leia Organa to life.
But they were far from the first actors considered to play the gun-toting smuggler who captains the Millennium Falcon and his royal love interest. A ton of then-unknowns who went on to become huge stars auditioned to play Han or Leia.
10 Han: Al Pacino
Hot off of his star-making performances in the first two chapters of The Godfather trilogy, Al Pacino was offered the role of Han Solo in Star Wars. However, he turned it down, so the producers opened it up to auditions.
When he was asked why Pacino said that he didn’t understand the script and that the role was only offered to him because of The Godfather’s then-recent success.
9 Leia: Jodie Foster
Originally, the top choice to play Princess Leia was Jodie Foster, who was even younger than Carrie Fisher at the time. Fisher was 19 years old when she played Leia, but Foster was just 12 when she was considered for the role.
However, when she was offered the role of Leia, Foster had to turn it down due to a scheduling clash with Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which she played a preteen New York prostitute and unwittingly inspired an assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.
8 Han: Kurt Russell
Before Harrison Ford was cast to play Han Solo, the producers’ shortlist for the role came down to Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, and Christopher Walken.
Russell could’ve easily added Solo to a list of roguish roles that would go on to include Snake Plissken, R.J. MacReady, and John “the Hangman” Ruth. Nolte likely would’ve played an even grumpier and more grizzled Han than Ford, while the way Walken would’ve played the part probably would’ve been radically different altogether.
7 Leia: Glenn Close
Glenn Close was one of the many actors who auditioned to play Leia Organa prior to Carrie Fisher’s spot-on casting. Close’s star-making back-to-back turns in Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons were still about a decade away.
While she has mostly avoided big-budget spectacle like Star Wars throughout her career, Close did play Nova Prime in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
6 Han: Bill Murray
Surprisingly, Bill Murray was one of the actors considered to play Han Solo. While Murray would’ve nailed Solo’s dry wit, he might not have played his coolness quite as convincingly as Harrison Ford.
Murray wasn’t the only comedic actor considered for the role. Steve Martin and Murray’s Caddyshack co-star Chevy Chase were also under consideration for the part.
5 Leia: Sigourney Weaver
Before Carrie Fisher was cast as Leia, Sigourney Weaver auditioned for the role. While she didn’t land the part, Weaver did go on to play a different sci-fi icon two years after Star Wars made space movies trendy: groundbreaking feminist hero Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott’s Alien.
Margot Kidder also auditioned to play Leia, and she also went on to play another iconic role after Star Wars hit theaters: Lois Lane in the Superman franchise.
4 Han: Billy Dee Williams
Though he refutes claims that he auditioned for the role, Billy Dee Williams was considered to play Han Solo before Harrison Ford was cast. Of course, he would go on to play Han’s old frenemy Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Williams also played Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s Batman, although he was replaced with Tommy Lee Jones when Dent turned into Two-Face. Thanks to The Lego Batman Movie, Williams did eventually get to play Two-Face, though.
3 Leia: Meryl Streep
Widely regarded to be one of the greatest actors who ever lived, Meryl Streep has played a ton of iconic roles over the years: Sophie Zawistowski, Joanna Kramer, Karen Silkwood, Miranda Priestly, Aunt March, Margaret Thatcher — the list goes on.
But there’s one major role she missed out on. Streep auditioned to play Princess Leia in Star Wars, but the producers decided against casting her.
2 Han: Sylvester Stallone
Long before he was one of the action genre’s most recognizable A-listers, Sylvester Stallone auditioned to play Han Solo. Not landing a role in Star Wars was part of the cosmic cocktail of fate that led to Stallone’s big break starring in his self-penned masterpiece Rocky.
Robert Englund (best known as Freddy Krueger), John Travolta, and James Woods were also considered to play Han, while James Caan, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Burt Reynolds, and Tom Selleck were all offered the role and turned it down.
1 Leia: Farrah Fawcett
Farrah Fawcett did an audition for the role of Leia but didn’t land the part. Around the time Star Wars was in production, Fawcett’s iconic red swimsuit poster was released and sold six million copies within a year, so she didn’t need the role of Leia to boost her star power.
Christine Baranski, Kim Basinger, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Jessica Lange, Bernadette Peters, Jane Seymour, Kathleen Turner, Dianne Wiest, and Debra Winger all auditioned for the role before Carrie Fisher was cast.
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