Remember that old SNL sketch with Kevin Spacey where different actors you'd never think of are trying out for iconic roles in Star Wars? If there was a sequence with Spacey acting out the role of Han Solo as played by Robert Englund, it probably would have been played for laughs and everyone would have laughed along with it. Who'd have thought the man who eventually invaded our nightmares as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare On Elm Street would have ever had a shot at playing a scruffy looking nerf herder? Well you can stop laughing now, because not only did this happen, Mark Hamill would have never gotten his start without it.
Yahoo recently interviewed Englund about his iconic career, as part of their ongoing Role Recall series. In the first part of their two-part interview, the actor recalls two parts he tried out for in the early days of his career: one was a surfer in Apocalypse Now, and as the story goes, he was told that he was too old for the role in question. In any other Hollywood story, this is the point where another project would be casting at the same time, thus giving our hero his big break.
This story only follows half of that typical path, as Star Wars was auditioning across the way, and since Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were such good friends, Robert Englund was directed to audition for that project instead. As fate and comedy would have it, Englund didn't get to the role of Han Solo, as he was deemed "too young" for the part. So what's an actor to do when he's in the Goldilocks zone between two iconic roles? As you'll see in Englund's own words below, you drink some beer and set a friend up for destiny.
"And then I went home and told a little kid that was sleeping on my couch, after a six-pack of Heineken, all about [Star Wars], and his name was Mark Hamill. I said, ‘Hey, Lucas is doing this space movie. Maybe you’re right for it. The lead guy’s like a teenager…. So Mark got on the phone to his agent and I think he went up the next day. He nailed it, and the rest is history."
While history served both Hamill and Englund pretty well with the parts they played respectively, you can't help but think what Star Wars would have been like if Robert Englund actually played Han Solo. Better still, would Mark Hamill still have played Luke Skywalker if he'd gotten the role? If not, who would have taken the lead role that, as Englund would dish later in the interview, saw Hamill with a crush on Carrie Fisher? Even more frightening is the question, who would have played Freddy Krueger if Englund's luck had held up? While the answers to all of these questions aren't readily apparent without a time and relative dimension manipulator, one thing is for certain: losing a role can sometimes be the best thing that's ever happened to you and a friend!
You can see Mark Hamill continue the legacy that he started in Star Wars: Episode VII when it opens on December 18th, 2015. Maybe he can get Robert Englund a cameo of some sort in one of the next two films?