The Star Wars universe features a whole cast of memorable characters, and the macho smuggler Han Solo is probably the coolest of them all. He is the franchise’s embodiment of masculinity, one of the most beloved outlaws of all time, and the luckiest troublemaker in the entire galaxy.
Han Solo and his furry co-pilot Chewbacca accidentally became involved in the Rebel Alliance’s struggle against the Galactic Empire in the original trilogy and proved to be the crucial assets in the destruction of the Empire’s super-powerful Death Star. The antics of Han Solo and Chewbacca, who was nicknamed Chewie, provided a well-constructed comic relief to the sinister plot of the saga.
Although it’s pretty hard to imagine someone other than Harrison Ford playing Solo, there were several other actors who almost got the role. One of them was Kurt Russell, whose later films proved that he was perfect for the roles of gritty and goofy macho characters.
Today, Russell’s audition tape can be found online, but he obviously failed to capture Lucas’ vision for the character. Still, Russell might have been a good enough replacement for Ford, since he sported a similar “bad boy” look and was very popular with the ladies.
Star Wars was being filmed at the same time as Rocky, the film that launched Sylvester Stallone to stardom. Stallone actually auditioned for the role of Han Solo, but Lucas didn’t like him.
Stallone ended up leaving the audition while concluding that he would look stupid while dressed in a space suit and wielding a ray gun. His appearance as Han Solo would definitely make the franchise way funnier, but not necessarily in a good way.
The actor who was almost handed the role of Han Solo was none other than Al Pacino, the influential and charismatic actor best known for The Godfather films and gritty characters such as Tony Montana in the stellar gangster film “Scarface”.
The Independent reports that “Al Pacino has revealed that he turned down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars at a time when he was ‘offered everything’”. Pacino was unfamiliar with the world of science fiction and turned down the role because he didn’t understand the script and failed to see its potential. It’s probably for the best because although he would definitely be a solid Solo he seems better suited for the roles of vicious earthly gangsters.
Robert Englund auditioned to play Solo before appearing in Nightmare on Elm Street as the notorious Freddy Kruger, but he was rejected for being too old. However, he was friends with Mark Hamill at the time, and he convinced Hamill to audition for the part of Luke Skywalker, so he definitely had a considerable impact on the course of the franchise.
Today, almost 40 years after A New Hope was released and at a time when the Star Wars franchise continues to be the central part of the sci-fi canon, it’s hard to imagine Han Solo being played by anyone but Harrison Ford, whose name will forever be associated with the galaxy’s favorite scumbag.