The original Star Wars trilogy took three relatively unknown actors and turned them into movie stars. The new film looks poised to do the same. The prequel trilogy, on the other hand, nearly went in a very different direction and cast one of the biggest stars at the time in a key role. In the early 2000s, when George Lucas was getting ready to film Attack of the Clones he was originally looking at Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of Anakin Skywalker.

Coming off of Titanic in 1997, DiCaprio was one of the biggest stars in the world. Titanic had become the top grossing movie ever. It would have been a 180-degree shift away from the previous practice of casting unknowns (even though Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman held key roles in the Prequels). Ultimately, DiCaprio ended up passing on the job, later telling The Short List that he "didn’t feel ready to take that dive." Although, reports in The Guardian from the time of the initial rumors implied that the actor "would like to take the role." Whatever the truth of the situation, it was not to be and the role would eventually go to the unknown Hayden Christensen. Then the prequels would happen. Then we’d all move on with our lives.

It’s an intriguing "what if" scenario, however. What would the prequels have looked like with 26-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio in the driver’s seat? He was mostly know for Titanic at the time, but he’d also done the dark drug addiction drama The Basketball Diaries. Heck, the guy had done Shakespeare, even if it was of the Baz Luhrmann variety. But would it have mattered? We know Natalie Portman is a great actress, but the prequels didn’t exactly let her show that. Would DiCaprio in the prequels simply have made DiCaprio not look as good as he can be?

Exactly why the actor wasn’t interested has never been made clear. It doesn’t look like he’s ever been pressed on the question. As Yahoo Movies points out, DiCaprio has never gotten himself involved in big movie franchises, and it’s possible he just has a natural aversion to such things. He’s also stayed away from science fiction or fantasy genres for the most part, Inception being the only real exception. Maybe he doesn’t particularly care for those types of films in general?

We’ll never know whether Leonardo DiCaprio dodged a bullet by not doing the Star Wars prequels, or missed a huge opportunity to improve their quality. Looking back on it, would you have liked to have seen a young Leonardo DiCaprio as Anakin Skywalker? Is there anybody else they should have looked to?

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