Sam Witwer has had made quite an impression on the Star Wars franchise over the last decade. The actor first entered the galaxy far, far away by lending his voice and likeness to the main character in the game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and reprised the role in the sequel. He would later become a mainstay when he was tapped to voice Darth Maul in The Clone Wars, a role he would carry into Star Wars Rebels. Yet it turns out Witwer nearly played another key role on Rebels.
Sam Witwer revealed that he was originally being eyed to voice Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars Rebels. Plans changed, however, when Freddie Prinze Jr. auditioned for the role. But Witwer doesn’t appear to hold any hard feelings when it comes to not landing the part:
Rebels, for a second according to a few people at Lucasfilm, was called ‘The Sam Show’ because I was Kanan. And then they found Freddie [Prinze Jr] after they heard Freddie’s audition. I’ve got to be honest, I had a certain take on the character, and what I was doing was not better than what Freddie was doing. What Freddie was doing was better than what I was doing in my opinion, and I realized that when I saw it. I was like, wow, this guy is absolutely that character. I think that’s the way to go.
Per his comments to Star Wars Holocron, it sounds like Lucasfilm wanted to capitalize on Sam Witwer’s talents by making him the lead of his own show. It was a smart move, especially when you consider his voice acting abilities and love of the Star Wars universe.
This could be part of the reason why the producers opted to bring Sam Witwer onto the project through Maul’s eventual inclusion. In addition, Witwer also served as the voice of Emperor Palpatine for an episode.
As a Star Wars fan, you can’t help but wonder how Witwer was planning to approach Kanan. He’s a character who’s been through his fair share of trauma and, having voiced Starkiller in The Force Unleashed, Witwer knows all about playing damaged individuals.
It’s hard to deny the level of believability, humanity and gravitas that Freddie Prinze Jr. brought to Kanan. Prinze breathed true life into the Jedi Knight and seemed to have really connected with the character. This would lead him to help develop Kanan’s story and even helped decide on the character’s ultimate fate.
Based on his skills, there’s no doubt that Sam Witwer could’ve brought something unique to the role of Kanan. But many Star Wars fans, like myself, are certainly grateful that Freddie Prinze was ultimately chosen to take on the part.
Both Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars are now streaming on Disney+.