The veteran American actor Kurt Russell has an extensive career spanning more than a decade in Hollywood. Starting his career as a child artist, Russell impressed us with his many iconic roles, such as Snake Plissken in the films  Escape from New York and Escape from L.A., as well as The Thing, and Big Trouble in Little China. Nevertheless, during the early stages of his career,  the actor experienced a setback from a prominent role in the industry, which was ultimately taken by Harrison Ford.

Kurt Russell’s audition dilemma with The Quest lead and Star Wars role

Kurt Russell’s versatility and talent made him a sought-after actor in the entertainment industry. Russell, in an interview with the Daily Beast, shared the significant rejection he experienced in the renowned George Lucas film, Star Wars: A New Hope. In the early stages of the casting of George Lucas’s space opera, many young actors, including Russell, auditioned for the Star Wars role.

Image of Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell

The actor was hoping to secure the roles of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, while at the same time, he was offered a role in a TV series called The Quest. This put Russell in a moral dilemma as he had to decide whether to pursue the prominent role in Star Wars or take the lead role in The Quest. Out of confusion, he approached Lucas and asked about his future in the movie.

“I remember asking George one day, ‘Do you think you’re going to use me or not?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know which part I prefer you in. I don’t know if I like you as Han and this guy as Skywalker, or this guy as Han and you as Skywalker. I don’t know.'”

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He expressed his desire to play either Han Solo or Luke Skywalker. However, Lucas, out of the blue, couldn’t give Russell a definitive answer because he was uncertain about the role he preferred for him. As a result, Russell decided to give up his effort for Star Wars and eventually took the ABC show, while Harrison Ford became  Han Solo and Mark Hamill played Luke Skywalker.

Kurt Russell attended Star Wars audition with no prior knowledge

A still of Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The Guardians of the Galaxy star also shared about his audition process in USA Today, describing it as a fascinating and amusing experience as the Star Wars team recorded it. He said that he didn’t turn on for the role because he doesn’t have any prior knowledge about the universe, he “had no idea what I was saying” and couldn’t relate to the concept and the characters during the audition.

He also asserted that he “made the right choice“.  It was also viewed that Russell’s audition is impressive, as he managed to capture the essence of both Han Solo’s confidence and Luke Skywalker’s charm. His Star Wars audition tape is available on the internet.

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Many top-notch stars considered for Han Solo

Harrison Ford as Hans Solo
Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope

Finally, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill cemented history as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Since it is quite difficult to imagine anyone else as Han Solo other than Harrison Ford, apart from Kurt Russell, Lucas also met many big names in Hollywood before casting Ford as Han Solo.

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Other actors up for Han Solo included Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Glynn Turman, and Robert Englund. It was also believed that Christopher Walken would be taking on the role instead of Ford. Lucas chose Walken as the second option for the role, which might have been his breakout performance.

Source: Daily Beast and USA Today

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