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The Star Wars Role Al Pacino Once Turned Down

Nowadays, it's hard to imagine anyone opting to steer clear of a role in the Star Wars universe. It's one of the most well-known franchises in film history, and has made billions at the box office. Any actor in 2020 would jump at the chance to be in such a high-profile work. However, back in 1977, the IP was no more than a passion project by an inexperienced filmmaker named George Lucas.

The first (although technically the fourth chronologically by way of canon) movie in the Star Wars movie series is effectively an expensive independent film. Lucas funded it himself, making the most of whatever resources he could scrounge up. As a result, the casting was no easy feat, as few experienced actors wanted to touch the risky project. This led to the casting of relative unknowns like Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, respectively.

That didn't stop Lucas from testing the waters for Hollywood's big names, however. Veterans of the big screen, like the late Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing, both signed on for spots as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Grand Moff Tarkin. And for the role of Han Solo, Lucas eyed up-and-comers like Christopher Walken and Kurt Russell. One of the most high-profile names approached for the character, though, was none other than Tony Montana himself — Al Pacino.

Al Pacino passed on the role of Han Solo

To round out his heroic trio, Lucas needed someone brilliant to embody the Corellian smuggler. After testing out a slew of rising stars, the young director eventually settled on Harrison Ford to portray Han Solo. The actor made the role his own, bringing one of the most iconic characters in all of pop culture to life. 

Before Ford had the chance to accept, however, the part of Han Solo was offered first to Al Pacino — a casting choice that would have completely changed Star Wars. Ultimately, Pacino chose to pass on the job – a choice he doesn't regret, for a fairly understandable reason. During An Evening With Al Pacino in 2013, the actor revealed, "You know who else I gave a career to? Harrison Ford. I was offered Star Wars, but I didn't understand the script."

The Star Wars lore is deep and abstract, even for as fleshed out as it is today. Back in 1977, it was uncharted territory for everyone involved — a project like that is a huge gamble. Not to mention, it's common knowledge that Lucas' ability to write dialogue isn't much to be proud of. (Lucas himself even admitted that during an interview with Stephen Colbert in 2015.) It all worked out for the best for all parties involved: Pacino and Ford both went on to massive success in the coming years, and Lucas' brainchild became a worldwide phenomenon.