While George Lucas almost ruined his legacy with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, there were some slivers of goodness in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. The prequels raised the level of CGI special effects, introduced dynamic lightsaber duels, and delivered some amazing new characters additions such as Jedi Master Mace Windu, played by Samuel L. Jackson. While Jackson was probably the best thing about the prequel trilogy, apparently he was not George Lucas’ first choice to play the Jedi Knight.
According to the former chief engineer of Death Row Records, Rick Clifford, rapper Tupac Shakur read for George Lucas to play Mace Windu back in 1996. Before his untimely death later that year, Tupac was an emerging actor as well, with solid performances in the movies Juice, Above the Rim, and Gridlock’d. Clifford says:
“It’s sad because ‘Pac found out that I worked for Brian Austin Green who was on 90210, then he found out I was in some movies. So we always talked about his film career and stuff. He was telling me that he was suppose to read for [George Lucas]. They wanted him to be a Jedi… Samuel L. got Tupac’s part… He called me ‘Old Man’. He said ‘Old Man keep your fingers crossed, I got three movies coming up. One of them I gotta read for George Lucas.’
There you have it! While Tupac was only an up-and-coming actor at the time, he could have been a real movie star because of his impressive on-screen presence and charm. Unfortunately, his life was cut short at age 25, killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996, as part of the so-called East Coast/West Coast rap war. It’s just hard to believe we could have got a version of Mace Windu with the words “Thug Life” tattooed on his belly.
Of course, Samuel L. Jackson shined as a member of the Jedi Master in the final film. He gave the prequels much-needed life and energy that were absent from many of the actors in the trilogy. It’s not that actors such as Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman were bad, it’s just that George Lucas didn’t seem to know how to use them. Interestingly, the character Mace Windu was originally the narrator in early drafts of Star Wars, but was ultimately scrapped.
As for Jackson, the actor has expressed an interest in returning to the Star Wars universe and reprising his role as Mace Windu in Star Wars: Episode VII. While his character (supposedly) died in Revenge of the Sith, Jackson contends that Abrams could bring the Jedi Master back because the audience didn’t actually see him die. Jackson believes Mace Windu could have survived the fall from Emperor Palpatine’s office. Of course, Abrams could also bring Mace back as a Force ghost like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.
The Star Wars prequel trilogy would have been completely different if Tupac Shakur wasn’t murdered and was cast to play Mace Windu. The movies would’ve had an edge that Jackson couldn’t deliver, despite his abilities as a great actor. Tupac Shakur had an authenticity that couldn’t be replicated. It’s such a shame that his life ended at an early age.
Can you picture Tupac Shakur as Mace Windu, or was Samuel L. Jackson the right man for the job?