The fabled status of “Star Wars” in popular culture and the fact that it wasn’t always a billion-dollar Disney property are both difficult to fathom today. The space opera based on Flash Gordon was just director George Lucas’ eccentric pet project in the late 1970s. The enormous project that George Lucas had in mind was turned down by multiple Hollywood studios before 20th Century Fox chose to back it. In addition to finding funding, it was challenging for Lucas to find the right main actors because few celebrities were interested in taking on such a hazardous project. The part of Han Solo, a sardonic and dangerous smuggler, still remained to be filled despite the addition of then-unknowns Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.
Francis Ford Coppola, a friend of George Lucas’ and a frequent collaborator, directed “The Godfather” and “The Godfather Part II,” two of the best movies ever filmed, in 1972 and 1974. Al Pacino, who played civilian-turned-don Michael Corleone in the mafia epics, was propelled into A-list stardom by the films, and his tragic performances in “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon” furthered his reputation as one of the greatest actors of all time. Pacino was renowned for his strong, explosive stage presence and the secret depths that concealed behind his expressive, forceful eyes. Lucas wanted him to play Han Solo because he thought that choosing such a well-known actor would guarantee “Star Wars” box office success and public interest.
Pacino told MTV, “I was offered everything at that point in my career. “In “The Godfather,” I appeared. They didn’t care if I was the proper person for the role or not, or if I was able to act or not.” Pacino received a job offer from Lucas, which he ultimately turned down.
He didn’t understand the script
Because he did not comprehend the underlying workings of Lucas’ cosmic realm, Al Pacino rejected “Star Wars.” Pacino was then acting in tough, realistic dramas, so the bizarre monsters, outfits, and character names in this science fiction epic were a galaxy far, far away.
Pacino claims that when he first read the script, “I failed to get it. I have no idea why I would do it ” (viaLA Weekly). The character of Han Solo “was mine for the taking but I didn’t grasp the script,” he says in the stage production “An Evening With Al Pacino” (as reported in The Telegraph). Instead, Pacino would go on to star in the critically panned romance “Bobby Deerfield” and the well-received courtroom drama “And Justice For All,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.
Pacino makes fun of the fact that he didn’t get to be a part of the huge smash in his one-man show “Star Wars,” instead opting for more understated movies: “So I gave Harrison Ford his career! I owe him a huge debt! He will have to repay me, I promise. I’m going to have him construct my home ” (perLA Weekly). Ford had brief appearances in Coppola’s “The Conversation” and Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” but the popular legend at the time was that Ford was primarily known around Hollywood as a professional carpenter. Ford was unknown at the time he was cast as Han Solo. His breakthrough performance would come in “Star Wars,” and during the 1980s, Ford proceeded to rise to fame in the “Indiana Jones” films and other successes like “Working Girl” and “Witness.” In contrast, Pacino’s career was struggling. His 1983 picture “Scarface” received harsh criticism, and he had a bad experience while filming on the 1985 historical war movie “Revolution.” Pacino left the spotlight and didn’t come back until 1989’s romantic noir “Sea of Love.”
Does he regret his decision?
Did Pacino regret not joining what would grow to be one of the most successful multimedia companies ever? He expresses broad happiness with his work path in an interview with The Talk:
“I don’t regret anything. I feel that I’ve made what I would call mistakes. I picked the wrong movie, or I didn’t pursue a character or I played somebody and made some choices. But everything you do is a part of you. And you get something from it. And I mean, the idea and excitement of being in these situations and places they are more than just memories, they inform your life. So I don’t regret anything.”
Pacino rose to fame for his dramatic performances in realistic dramas; engaging Stormtroopers with a blaster would have made for an interesting addition to his repertoire. Can you see Al Pacino hanging out with Chewie while sporting that vest?