How Star Wars Producers Screwed Alec Guinness Out Of Millions

Poor old Alec Guinness. While it’s no secret that his performances as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy netted him a rather hefty paycheck thanks to an agreement he’d signed before taking the part, it turns out he would have earned even more money had the producers kept a verbal agreement supposedly struck between Guinness and director George Lucas. That's right. Guinness was allegedly screwed out of .25% of the film's earnings.

While that doesn’t sound like a lot, the fact that the Star Wars films have gone on to gross billions upon billions of dollars at the box office alone, that ends up being a whole heap of change. Especially when you start to add the revenue generated from merchandise and toys to the mix! My wallet is crying just thinking of the sum he missed out on! Anyway, when Guinness originally made the deal, he thought nothing of it. But during a 1977 interview with the BBC’s Michael Parkinson, the actor revealed how Star Wars’ producers managed to sneakily screw him out of extra money that Lucas had promised. You can watch the clip below. Try not to fall in love with the 63-year-old’s accent as you do though. I know it’s dreamy.

Those sneaky scoundrels! As Guinness rather superbly explained, the night before Star Wars hit cinemas back in 1977 he supposedly received a phone-call from George Lucas, who predicted that the film would actually be a success thanks to the way that it had turned out and the press’ reaction. Obviously jubilant at his impending triumph, Lucas decided that Guinness deserved a pay increase, especially since he had suggested some alterations to the script, such as replacing some of Lucas’ "ropey" dialogue, which ultimately proved to enhance the picture. So rather than being given the 2% he had previously been offered, Lucas declared that the titanic English thespian deserved to receive 2.5% instead. Of course, Guinness gratefully accepted Lucas’ generous offer. Of course, Star Wars performed very well at the box office. I can only imagine that when he saw the receipts for the film, which was the highest grossing movie of all time until E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial broke the record in 1983, Guinness felt rather chuffed with his investment.

A few weeks later, Guinness came to the rather wise conclusion that it would probably be a good idea to get Lucas’ brand-new proposal in writing. But when he called up to probe a producer about his extra 0.50%, he was told, "Oh yes, about the quarter of a per cent." As Guinness was about as English as it gets, so much so that he probably even wore a monocle and a top-hat to bed, he didn’t want to be impolite and quarrel over the extra 0.25%, so he just let it be. Even though it probably equated to several million dollars. He probably should have used a little bit more of the "force." Ba-dum-tsss.

Gregory Wakeman