Nothing gets a conversation and/or debate going faster than an alternate casting. Everyone has their own opinion about what actor should play which role, and, more importantly, nobody can ever agree with anyone else’s picks. If it’s even slightly different than what you pictured in your head, you will immediately disregard it and ridicule the person who suggested it. The aim of the FanCast is to inspire conversation, create debate and provide ammo for the bloodthirsty nerds who can’t ever be wrong.
It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when. It’s gonna happen. The original Star Wars trilogy will get remade. Probably not tomorrow. But if it did get remade tomorrow, who would you cast in the roles of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Lando Calrissian, Grand Moff Tarkin, and C-3PO?
Sailor and I put our heads together to answer this question. Here’s what we came up with.
Luke Skywalker | Nick Robinson
What you might have seen him in: Jurassic World, The Kings of Summer
Why he’d be perfect for the role: There’s something to be said for casting unknowns for a movie this big. These characters, for better or worse, are so embedded in the popular culture at this point, that it’s nearly impossible to recast them with actors that we know from modern movies. You almost want to run in the complete opposite direction from the original actor in order to avoid simply copying what was done before. That said, many of the characters in Star Wars are archetypes, so the parameters are kind of baked into the characters themselves. Mark Hamill’s naive Kansas farmboy fits the character perfectly. I needed someone that could convey that sort of unthreatening, youthful innocence. Nick Robinson was the first actor I thought of. The unassuming air he has about him, the good-looking-but-not-too-good-looking good looks, solid acting chops…he’s our Luke.
Han Solo | Lee Pace
What you might have seen him in: Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit Trilogy
Why he’d be perfect for the role: Before he cast Chris Pratt, James Gunn looked at a number of hungry, up and coming actors for Guardians of the Galaxy. One of them made such an impression, that Gunn just straight up by cast him as the villain just to give him a role in the movie. That actor was Lee Pace and I honestly believe that he didn’t lose the part because he was wrong for it or because Pratt nailed the audition. I think he lost it simply because he’s too tall. Pace is 6’5, which is an inch taller than Batista. Can’t have a Starlord that’s bigger than every other character in the movie, so unfortunately he lost the role. Now, I’m a huge Pratt as Starlord fan. I think he’s perfectly cast and has that certain thing none of the other actors had/have but I’ve always wondered what that movie would’ve looked like with Pace in the lead. I’m picturing more suave or swashbuckling, which is terrible for this version of Starlord but is perfect for Han Solo. He’s got Ford’s rugged good looks, cocksure attitude but with the added bonus of actually being a good actor. He’s a tad bit older but since my Leia is aged up too, it’s fine.
Princess Leia Organa | Julia Garner
What you might have seen her in: The Americans, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Why she’d be perfect for the role: I think Leia, more than any other character in the franchise, is the hardest to recast. Vader is a voice, Solo is a lovable rogue with swagger and Luke is a walking Hero’s Journey. They’re well-established archetypes with character traits you can see in hundreds of actors. Leia wasn’t an archetype, she was a twist on the archetype. We’re led to believe in the beginning that she’s the docile princess you’ve seen in countless Kurosawa films or fantasy films or any other genre film that inspired this but at a certain point, the facade lifts and you see the real Princess Leia. She’s a firebrand that takes no shit. I don’t know if that was in the original script or if that’s what Carrie Fisher brought to it, either way, it’s a huge departure and vast improvement over the passive damsel in distress. Those other actors perfected their archetypes, while Fisher created hers. That’s why she’s harder to recast. So I took the lazy way out and just decided to find a character in any show or movie with a similar character arc, I landed on Julia Garner aka Ruth from Ozark. Without ruining the show for people who haven’t seen it, she goes through a similarly unpredictable journey. All I’m saying is, Garner can pull off looking like royalty one minute, to looking like she could kill every person in the room if she could only get a gun. Over four seasons, Garner consistently proved she could play any type of character you throw at her. Millie Bobby Brown is her doppelganger, but Garner has Fisher’s talent.
Darth Vader | Michael Wincott (Voice), Alan Ritchson (Suit)
What you might have seen them in: The Crow (Wincott), Reacher (Ritchson)
Why they’d be perfect for the role: How do you recast possibly the perfect voice casting in the history of film? It’s damned tempting to just cast someone who sounds similar to James Earl Jones. (I momentarily thought of casting John Rhys-Davies.) But besides being boring, I think that actually kind of demeans what the actor brought to the role. If it’s just the voice, there are ways of simply recreating that. But Jones brings something more than just a deep voice. It’s the intonation, the accent, and the way he projects authority without the benefit of facial expressions or, you know, even being on set. So I decided to go with someone who could convey that same sense of authority and do it in a way that would not simply be a copy of what Jones did. Michael Wincott has made a career on sounding authoritative and frightening. His gravely yet deep voice commands attention but is unique enough to stand on its own as an interpretation of the character.
But you have to have a guy in the suit, and Wincott is not a large man. While researching for this, I found out that James Earl Jones is an inch taller than David Prowse, the bodybuilder who filled the suit of Vader. I’m sure there’s a logical reason for not putting Jones in the suit, but I don’t see why it couldn’t have worked. But I digress. For our recast, I wanted someone tall and beefy but I also wanted an actor that had some legit credits. An actor with a presence. Fresh off his turn as the quirky but highly competent Jack Reacher in the Amazon series Reacher, Alan Ritchson is our choice for the man in black.
Grand Moff Tarkin | Richard O’Brien
What you might have seen him in: Dark City, Dungeons & Dragons
Why he’d be perfect for the role: This role belongs to Charles Dance. He owns it. He’s been in so many fan castings, that I sometimes forget he isn’t actually in the movie. After Game of Thrones, everyone suddenly wanted him in every old man villain role and while that recency bias usually results in the most boring, obvious castings ever, it struck paydirt with him as Grand Moff Tarkin. It’s a perfect choice. Which is why I’m not picking it. I don’t like obvious casting choices. I like rolling the dice on the oddball pick that lives between inspired and ridiculous. The kind of pick you need a map and a compass to figure out how I ended up there and that’s exactly what I’m about to give you for my actual pick: Richard O’Brien. I’m passing over an actor who just got done playing this exact same type of character for years that I know could crush it in their sleep for an actor who hasn’t acted in 20 years and hasn’t been relevant for double that all because that is boring to me. I can already see that movie. I’ve already seen that movie. I don’t have many onscreen performances to savor from O’Brien. Besides the iconic Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, he only really made a dent in Ever After and the criminally underrated Dark City. Which is the map and compass I mentioned earlier. It’s Dark City. If you’ve seen it, you know why he’s equally perfect for this role.
Obi-Wan Kenobi | Ken Watanabe
What you might have seen him in: Batman Begins, The Last Samurai
Why he’d be perfect for the role: It’s common knowledge at this point that George Lucas was heavily influenced by Akira Kurosawa movies—especially those involving samurai. So much so that he originally wanted Toshiro Mifune for the role of Obi-Wan. But the legendary actor turned the role down, fearing the sci-fi film would cheapen the image of the samurai. Alec Guinness nailed the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but if we’re recasting the role, we gotta throw a nod to Lucas’s original idea for the character, and no one seems better suited to take up the reigns from Guinness while honoring the Bearded One’s original intentions than Ken Watanabe. The man has a presence. He oozes nobility. He projects a kind of inner strength, but at the same time has kind eyes. He’s our Obi-Wan.
*Props to reader and sometimes contributor Nokoo for this pick. I had someone else in mind, but once he suggested Watanabe, I couldn’t think of anyone else.
Lando Calrissian | Donald Glover
What you might have seen him in: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Why he’d be perfect for the role: You know what they say? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The truth is, I was never on the Donald Glover hype wagon. But I thought his turn as Lando in Solo was actually one of the highlights of that disappointing movie, so I figured I would just leave well enough alone.
C-3PO | Doug Jones
What you might have seen him in: Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth
Why he’d be perfect for the role: The days of convincing an actor to dress up in a hot ass suit to walk around the desert for months at a time are long gone. If Disney was actually going to remake or reboot this franchise, any practical effects are going to be a pipe dream. C-3PO would almost definitely be an actor in a mocap suit with a sardonic Matt Berry-esque voice actor dubbed in later. I have so little faith in the studio and the brand itself, that I truly believe they wouldn’t even consider Doug Jones, the most obvious pick in the world, simply because he doesn’t have the voice they’re looking for. If the character is going to be CGI, there’s no point in looking for the best actor working in rubber suits and prosthetics. But since this recasting is one huge what if, my choices are based on who Disney should cast, not who I think they will cast and if I’m casting the new C-3PO, there’s no one better qualified than Jones. His body of work speaks for itself. Whether it’s terrifying monsters, empathetic space aliens or fish-men trying to navigate new human emotions, every character Jones plays feels believable and real. You understand their wants and needs, even the non-verbal creations. Frankly, he’s over qualified for this annoying-ass robot but since he’s the only one that could potentially make him tolerable, he has to do it.
These are the actors that Sailor and I would cast if we were tasked with remaking the original Star Wars trilogy. Who would you FanCast?