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The Star Wars franchise officially turns 40-years-old today, and as such it's time for us to reminisce on the iconography of the series and how far it has come. Looking back, the original trilogy is so close to perfect that it's almost hard to imagine it going any other way. However, A New Hope was almost a very different movie from the one that ultimately hit theaters in 1977, and much of that has to do with the fact that Kurt Russell almost landed the role of Han Solo. The action hero had a pretty good shot at the part, but he opted to do a TV western instead of George Lucas' space western. The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 actor recently opened up about the audition process for the sci-fi classic, saying:
[I was] interviewing for the part of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. On tape, it exists. I didn't have any idea what I was talking about. Something about a Death Star and a Millennium Falcon. I was actually pretty [close], in the final running, but I needed to give an answer to ABC to do a western show. I asked George, 'Do you think you're gonna use me?' He said, 'I don't know if I want to put you with him, or those two guys together.' I got to go to work, so I did the western. Clearly, made the right choice.
Kurt Russell punctuated his recent chat with USA Today about his potential involvement in the Star Wars franchise with a jovial laugh, and it's clear that he regrets nothing about not getting the role of Han Solo. When faced with the possibility that he might not get the job, he opted for the arguably safer route of an ABC western, and the role subsequently went to Harrison Ford. The good news? In the years since he missed out on playing the Corellian smuggler, Russell has had the distinct opportunity to portray iconic silver screen characters like Snake Plissken, MacReady from John Carpenter's The Thing, Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, and (most recently) Ego the Living Planet in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. All in all, that's a pretty solid consolation prize.
Of course, Kurt Russell's audition tape for A New Hope has become the stuff of legends in the years since the Star Wars saga became a household name. Check it out below to see what his Han Solo could've looked like for yourself:
Kurt Russell isn't the only Hollywood star who almost donned the vest of the famous Star Wars character. Before Harrison Ford stepped into the boots of the fan-favorite smuggler, George Lucas also considered actors like Sylvester Stallone (who would go on to co-star with Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Christopher Walken, Nick Nolte, and even Tom Selleck. Clearly, Lucas wanted a talented actor for the part, but at the end of the day, I think it's safe to say that he made the right call. Harrison Ford owns the role of Han Solo, and his success in the Star Wars franchise ultimately paved the way for him to take on other classic roles like Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan.
That said, we will have to wait and see how Han Solo finally changes when newcomer Alden Ehrenreich steps into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon for the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie. For now, you can catch Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. which is now in theaters.