15 Famous Actors Who Almost Played Han Solo in OG ‘Star Wars’
Now that we've had our first look at a non-Harrison Ford Han Solo via the 'Solo' trailer, let's take a look back at the other guys that almost played everyone's favorite scruffy looking nerf herder.
It's always fun to hear about people that were almost cast in iconic roles, which is what this article was initially going to be about. While doing research for that, I learned that there were a ton of well-known names in George Lucas' hat for the role of Han Solo in the original 'Star Wars,' so many that it necessitated its own article.
I knew about a few of these, but there are some real shockers on the list. It seems like pretty much every burgeoning actor around Hollywood in 1975 read for the part, many of whom would go on to incredibly successful careers outside of 'Star Wars.' While I kind of have a bad feeling about Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, I actually think a few of these Almost Solos would've been pretty awesome... so I ranked them in order of thier potential awesomeness as I see it.
15. Burt Reynolds
Believe it or not, Burt Reynolds actually turned down the role of Han Solo. "I just didn't want to play that kind of role at the time," Reynolds said in a 2016 interview. "Now I regret it. I wish I would have done it." In his defense, there was nothing like 'Star Wars' before 'Star Wars,' so it's not surprising that a lot of popular actors were confused or turned off by the script. Reynolds instead got to play a different smuggler in 1977's second-highest grossing film -- 'Smokey and the Bandit.' I think it worked out best for everyone involved. Years later, SNL would explore what he might've been like in a different role...
14. Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone is one of the most mindblowing possible Han Solos, but in a different world -- it might've happened. Stallone had an audition for the role, which he recently described as being doomed from the jump. "Let me just make it easy for you," Stallone claims to have said to Lucas and his producers. "I would look like crap in spandex leotards and a ray gun. Guys in space don't have this face, I get it." Instead of 'Star Wars,' he did a little independent film he wrote called 'Rocky' that ended up being the biggest box office hit of 1976.
13. Robert Englund
Yes... that Robert Englund. Mr. Freddy Krueger himself. Englund auditioned for the role of Han Solo, but George Lucas & company were looking for someone older.
Krueger Englund did make a contribution that has had a lasting impact on the franchise, as he convinced his roommate at the time, another young unknown actor, to pursue a different role in the film. You've might have heard of him, his name is Mark Hamill.
12. Chevy Chase
Don't get me wrong -- in 1977 Chevy Chase was a force of nature and he continued to be for years. However, casting him in this role would've been an absolute disaster. Though it is widely reported that he was considered for the role, thankfully for everyone it never came to be. He's just not a great fit for what the role demanded. Besides, Chase is notoriously difficult to work with and I can't imagine him making it through the troubled production of a space opera filmed in the deserts of Tunisia, let alone any sequels.
11. Nick Nolte
Though he isn't getting much work these days, you probably know Nick Nolte from '48 Hours,' 'Cape Fear' or perhaps even that awful first live-action 'Hulk' movie. Nolte was apparently on the short list for Han Solo, but says he didn't really have a chance. "I think that was a given that [Han Solo] was going to go to Harrison Ford," said Nolte in a 2011 interview. "In that group of filmmakers, he was their actor. I'd have been kind of a goofy 'Star Wars guy." Based on his career, his Solo would have be more in line with the older "grumpy" Solo from 'The Force Awakens.'
10. Glynn Turman
His is easily the least recognizable name on the list, but you probably know him as Mayor Clarence Royce on 'The Wire' (if you don't, go watch 'The Wire' right now -- we'll be here when you get back). Turman has a ton of credits to his name including 'Gremlins' and 'Super 8,' but according to a book about George Lucas' career, 'Star Wars' was almost one of them. He was reportedly close to casting Turman as the iconic smuggler before becoming concerned with the potential backlash over a relationship between a black Han Solo and white Princess Leia. The 1970s were different times, you guys.
9. James Caan
In the years following his fiery performance as Sonny Corleone in 'The Godfather,' James Caan was a hot commodity in Hollywood. The history of "Caan Solo" has been a point of speculation over the years, with some saying that he passed on the role. In a 2013 interview with Howard Stern, Caan said he did not pass on it, but did take the chance to throw major shade at Harrison Ford. "They didn’t want an actor,” Caan told Stern of 'Star Wars,' “that’s why they got Harrison Ford.” It sounds like there might be some bad blood there. Check your bed for horse heads, Harrison.
8. Al Pacino
James Caan wasn't the only star of 'The Godfather' up for the role. Al Pacino famously passed on the role of Han Solo because he didn't get it. Seeing him shoot down a tie fighter and yell "hoo-ahh!" would've been worth the price of admission alone, but ultimately they made the right call here. The role doesn't really play to Pacino's strengths and had he done 'Star Wars' we may never have gotten 'Scarface.'
7. Bill Murray
First off -- Bill Murray is the GOAT. There's no doubt he had the charm and comedic chops to play Han Solo, but Murray falls a bit short on the rougher aspects of the role. Luckily for us, the then unknown actor would end up on a show called 'Saturday Night Live' not too long after his audition for Han Solo, where he got to do his own rendition of 'Star Wars.'
6. Billy Dee Williams
Glynn Turman wasn't the only black actor considered for Han Solo, as Billy Dee Williams himself was reportedly in consideration as well. Obviously, Billy Dee ended up playing Han's old pal Lando Calrissian in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi,' which is a much better fit. He's way too smooth to be Han Solo, who is kind of doofish at times. I doubt Billy Dee could've played that believably.
5. Tom Selleck
Poor Tom Selleck. The guy ended up handing two iconic roles to the same actor. Everyone knows he had to pass on Indiana Jones due to contractual obligations, but according to Robert Englund, Selleck passed on playing Han Solo as well. On paper, Selleck checks all the same boxes that Ford does for the role, whether it would've played well on screen is anyone's guess.
4. Christopher Walken
Apparently, Walken just missed out on playing Han Solo, as he was ultimately George Lucas' "second choice" behind Harrison Ford. I'm not sure how accurate that number is though, because a number of actors turned down the role before it got to Ford. Either way, it would be a trip to see Walken's cooky take on Han Solo.
3. Jack Nicholson
Nicholson, much like Walken, would've brought a certain eccentricity to the role that would've been interesting to watch, but vastly different from what we got. Would it have worked? Who knows. It is widely reported he was considered for the role of Han Solo, but had he landed the role, he might've not been available for 1980's 'The Shining,' It didn't gross nearly as much as Empire did that year, but it's a hugely influential film.
2. Steve Martin
I probably won't get much support here, but I think Steve Martin might've crushed it as Han Solo. He definitely could've pulled off the gruff comedy the role called for, but I don't know if he had the charm necessary. Either way, I would've loved to have seen it. Instead of 'Star Wars.' For whatever reason, it didn't work out, leaving Steve time to work on his passion project -- 'The Jerk.' Can you imagine how different his career would've been had he been Han Solo and not made 'The Jerk?'
1. Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell would've made a phenomenal Han Solo if 'Star Wars' were made in 1985, but it looks like he wasn't quite ready during his 1975 audition (see below). The role was written with someone closer to Harrison's age in mind. Kurt is 9 years his junior so it's not surprising that he didn't get the role. Plus, that signature Kurt Russell swagger is missing from the audition tape, maybe he hadn't unlocked that ability yet. Casting Big Trouble in Little China-era Kurt Russell as Han Solo in 'Star Wars' is the only casting I think actually works better than Harrison Ford... which is impossible. In short, Lucas made the right call.