In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Englund opened up about his own audition for the role of Corellian smuggler Han Solo in Star Wars, and how the role almost went to Tom Selleck. He said:
I heard Tom Selleck turned down Han Solo. They wanted Han to be much older than Luke, like an Uncle. He was originally conceived of as an uncle who comes home for the holiday that’s a little nasty and a little dirty and drinks a little bit and smokes, but someone that’s cool and heroic that you look up to.
Although the core of the film likely would have remained the same with this casting, certain elements would have most certainly been different. With Harrison Ford in the role, it gave Han Solo a much younger sensibility – almost like a big brother to Luke. This, in turn, gave Alec Guinness more room to breathe as the wise old soul aboard the Millennium Falcon. If Selleck had taken the role, Solo would have certainly been in competition with Obi-Wan for control of the situations they found themselves in. From Owen Lars to Obi-Wan to the mystery surrounding Anakin Skywalker, A New Hope is already packed to the brim with older male authority figures for Luke to answer to, so making Han a bit younger likely worked in the film’s favor.
Han Solo was a highly contested part even before Star Wars became a phenomenon. Many actors who would go on to become cinematic icons tested, such as Kurt Russell and Christopher Walken. You can check out Russell’s screen test for the role below just to get a sense of another version of Han that almost came to fruition.
In the end, Harrison Ford got the role and managed to embody the best of both worlds – old and young. Interestingly enough, Ford went on to beat out Selleck again for Indiana Jones in the early 1980s. His take on both characters has become iconic in the decades since the films hit theaters, and it’s doubtful that fans would have it any other way. Han Solo returns to theaters when Star Wars: The Force Awakens premieres on December 18, and the character’s history will be explored in an upcoming Star Wars anthology film.