While many are complaining about yet more changes to the Star Wars films with the new blu rays, everyone should consider that the saga has always been in a state of flux. This thought leads to a nagging question. What if George Lucas had filmed the saga chronologically? That is Episode I was the first Star Wars movie to be filmed back in the mid ’70s while Episode VI would’ve been released in 2005. Aside from the f/x and the storyline being different, so would the casting. This rings especially true in the last three films because it’s hard to imagine Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher portraying their iconic roles in middle age.
So with that thought let’s imagine who Lucas would’ve cast in the Prequel Trilogy, which would’ve spanned from the releases dates of 1977, 1980 and 1983. Note that there isn’t any way to predict with absolute certainty who Lucas would’ve cast or if his picks would’ve even accepted the roles. It’s easy to imagine that Lucas might’ve gone for an unknown actor or someone out of left field to play any of these roles. This isn’t a criticism of Lucas or the actors just pure speculation based on who auditioned for roles and was available at the time.
The Prequel Trilogy: Star Wars Episodes I-III
Qui-Gon Jinn: As the seasoned, wise and worldly Jedi Master, Nicol Williamson would’ve filled that role quite well. Just look at his performance as Merlin in Excalibur, the actor would’ve been perfect for Qui-Gon. One reason for this pick is that Lucas wanted to use primarily unknown performers but he did use seasoned, established actors in his films like Alec Guiness and Peter Cushing. If he decided to cast a star then an excellent choice for Qui-Gon would be Sean Connery. Despite his advancing years, Connery was still a tough, rugged leading man with many of the qualities needed for Qui-Gon.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: One of the main contenders for Han Solo was Perry King. In fact, he played Han in the Star Wars radio plays. So with his handsome good looks and acting chops, King would be a solid choice to play the heroic, noble Jedi who’s forced to fight his apprentice by Episode III. Plus he probably would’ve reprised Obi-Wan years later in Episode IV.
Padme Amidala: A difficult part to cast along with Anakin. The reason being that Lucas might’ve decided to have Anakin in the first film be an older character, which would throw off the entire casting process. If that happened then Carrie Fisher could perform her as she did with Princess Leia and that in turn means the actor to play Anakin in Episode I would have to be older . But if Lucas decided to have Padme younger then he would need to pick someone else like Terri Nunn, now known as the lead singer of Berlin. She was 16 at the time of casting and originally read for the role of Leia. Alternatives would include Rosanna Arquette, Melanie Griffith and even Eve Plumb. Seriously.
Anakin Skywalker: Kurt Russell was in the running for the role of Han Solo. He could’ve easily played a rash Anakin in Episodes II and III with his boyish good looks and hint of menace in his eyes. Just look at his portrayal of Snake Plissken. In Episode I, a young Anakin might’ve gone to some unknown child actor. Or Lucas could’ve picked Noah Hathaway who was about the same age as Jake Lloyd was when he was cast as Anakin. Or the filmmaker might’ve decided to introduce Anakin as a slightly older child, maybe even a teenager. This of course would probably mean that the actor chosen would continue to play the role in the sequels and thus no Kurt Russell. Choices include Ike Eisenmann, or Lance Kerwin.
Jar Jar Binks: Robin Williams would’ve been perfect for the role. Imagine a young, spirited Williams in his comedic prime running away with this role under heavy makeup. His performance might’ve been the one to catapult him into stardom rather than Mork from Ork. The character might’ve really caught on back then and had a larger roles in the sequels.
Mace Windu: Billy Dee Williams was considered for the role of Han Solo and as Mace, Williams would’ve added a heavy dose of charisma. This would’ve complemented the overall character of the Jedis and added to their regal nature. Heck, if you see him wearing his cape as Lando Calrissian, the guy looks like a Jedi of sorts.
Palpatine: Ian McDiarmid hopefully would’ve been cast back in ’76 and played the scheming politician and Sith Lord. The makeup might’ve been different in the final films given his age but nothing else would be different.
Nute Gunray: This was a largely forgettable villain but Peter Cushing would’ve added a chilling demeanor and turned him into a true menace. Albeit he would’ve played a human without makeup. However given his ill health by the early 80s his involvement in the next two films might’ve been limited.
Count Dooku: To portray this dashing, elegant and calculating fallen Jedi an actor needed to have all those qualities. Christopher Lee had it and so would Ricardo Montalban. Although would he then reprise his iconic role of Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan a couple of years later? If not him, then Maximilian Schell would’ve been a viable alternative.
Jango Fett: Scott Glenn has that mean, ornery look of a mercenary and the character might’ve had more of a Western motif. Clues of this can be found in the original Attack of the Clones when Jango dispatches a hapless Jedi with a quick draw during the climatic arena battle. Plus, Glenn’s casting would mean that Boba’s role in the future films would’ve been more substantial.
Darth Maul: The role was limited requiring only someone with tremendous physical prowess. A young Jackie Chan , Chuck Norris or some other martial artist could’ve portrayed this acrobatic Sith apprentice.
General Grievous: Due to the limited CG technology in the early ’80s, the character would be presented as a more humanoid being, perhaps the actor’s face would’ve being visible. In any regard, Christopher Lloyd has shown in the past with Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, that he can make a convincing villain and would have done the same in Episode III.
Boss Nass: Brian Blessed would have played this role and be in makeup rather than some CG rendering as with Episode I.
Coming Soon: Part II with the Original Trilogy Re-Cast!