Why Al Pacino Turned Down The Role Of Han Solo

By Nick Venable | 7 years ago

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“Hoo-ah! I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money. Hoo-ah!”

I admit I’ve given some thought over the years to alternate dimensions and parallel universes where things are similar how things are now, only with slight changes. And yes, I mostly envision a better life for myself, where regrettable errors went unmade and I didn’t have to drink tequila and bleach every night just to fall asleep. But I would definitely give up the good life just to witness Al Pacino as Han Solo in Star Wars. Seriously, even a bust of Pacino trapped in carbonite would be worth a minor life tragedy or two.

Alas, Pacino as Solo just wasn’t meant to be, but not for a lack of trying on Lucas’ part. The legendary actor was being honored for “An Evening With Pacino,” an intimate interview with Emma Freud in front of a live audience at the London Palladium. Pacino was the wry, clever guy everybody wants to be friends with, and he shared some pretty juicy information about iconic roles that he ended up turning down, including the role of John McClane in Die Hard. Speaking about Bruce Willis, Pacino uttered some of the most confounding words ever spoken.

“I gave that boy a career! You know who else I gave a career to? Harrison Ford in Star Wars. That role was mine for the taking but I couldn’t understand the script.”

This would have been right around the time he was screaming “Attica!” in Dog Day Afternoon, post-Godfather II, so he was obviously already one of the more gifted actors of any generation at that point. So what was so confusing about Lucas’ script? Did he only read the infamous original screenplay, of it was something that resembled the final product. Granted, some of Pacino’s whacked-out performances are far more sci-fi than any of the films he’s ever been in, but he seems like the kind of guy who could easily grasp a space adventure, even with all the droids and Chewbacca grunts.

It’s a damned shame, given how much scenery chewing Pacino could have accomplished. Post-Return of the Jedi, Harrison Ford never really had any standout roles that made you wonder what kind of hormone imbalance he was experiencing at the time, while every third movie Pacino is in features a scene where he could easily be mistaken for a Horseman of the Apocalypse. (See: Gigli, The Devil’s Advocate, The Merchant of Venice, etc.)

It makes one wonder what J.J. Abrams would have done with him for Star Wars: Episode VII, or what Pacino would have done with Abrams. Take a look at the amazing video essay that features Pacino hollering at just about everything in the room.

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