An offer he ultimately refused
In the history of movies, there have been many “what if?” scenarios. But sometimes you have situations like the one I’m going to look at today. A situation where a great movie could have gone in a different direction and potentially altered its reputation. What if a different actor had taken up an iconic role? What if Al Pacino, not Harrison Ford played the role of Han Solo? Would it have been for the better? Would it have been worse?
I’ve taken a look at a handful of disappointing movies. I looked at why they were disappointing, and also how they potentially could have been better. But today I’m taking a different angle. Today I’m looking at a great movie – indeed, a series of great movies – and evaluating how they could have been…different? And would “different” have meant “better“?
Let’s dive in. Buckle up your seat belt, get ready to board the Millennium Falcon, and let’s evaluate…
The Situation: What If Al Pacino accepted the role of Han Solo in Star Wars?
The role of Han Solo is almost synonymous with Harrison Ford. He created the role in the original Star Wars movie back in 1977. But, as legend has it, Ford landed the role almost essentially by accident. While Ford had worked with Lucas in 1973’s American Graffiti, that wasn’t what landed him the role.
Ford was just another actor landing small parts in the 1970s. Even with American Graffiti on his resume. He decided to lean more on his fallback career of being a carpenter while he waited for his “big break” in Hollywood. One of the carpentry jobs he was working on happened to be at the same studio that George Lucas was using. The one where he was creating and casting his new space opera called Star Wars. Since Lucas was still a relative unknown, he didn’t have the big budget to attract a cadre of major stars for his new film, so he brought on his carpenter to read some lines. The rest, as they say, was history.
A question of budget?
But just because Lucas didn’t have the money to cast an A-List celebrity as Han Solo doesn’t mean he didn’t try. One of his first choices was Al Pacino, who was offered the role and turned it down. Largely because he didn’t entirely understand the script. This same logic mirrored Sean Connery’s decision to turn down the role of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, which led to Connery’s retirement from acting.
This was a pivotal time for Pacino. He was fresh off a starring role as Michael Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II in 1974. Not to mention lesser classics such as Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Now he was being offered the chance to create a role in a movie that could cement his legacy as the biggest star in contemporary Hollywood, if not the history of Hollywood.
But he didn’t take it. He didn’t get it, he didn’t want it…whatever your favourite reason is, Pacino turned it down. So let’s take a look at this incredible “what if?” scenario that is playing out before our eyes.
How would it have affected the Star Wars canon?
It is easy to evaluate Pacino’s decision in hindsight as a terrible idea. He was one of the biggest and most respected actors in the film industry at the time of the creation of Star Wars.
Adding him to the fledgeling franchise could have added instant credibility to the film. Remember it was mostly packed with no-name actors and a director fighting to make his name. It could have cemented Pacino as THE biggest name in movies and could have made him untouchable in the eyes of cinema historians.
So here’s my hot take: Al Pacino turning down the role of Han Solo is one of the best things that ever happened in movie history. And had he taken the role of Han Solo, it would have ruined the Star Wars franchise and, potentially, American cinema for the last 50 years.
That may sound like a shock to you. But hear me out.
Pacino was a phenomenal actor. I would say “he is a phenomenal actor” but a lot of his work since the turn of the 21st century has been…not great. But at the time Star Wars was released there weren’t many Hollywood names more respected than Pacino’s. He embodied the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II and turned it into one of the most iconic characters in movie history. He turned in similarly iconic roles in Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon. Pacino was a major star. He would have lent instant credibility to the fledgeling franchise.
And that’s kind of my point here.
A Star Wars secret
You see, the dirty little secret about the first Star Wars movie is that when you really look at it…it’s not really that great of a movie. A revolutionary movie, yes. A movie that spawned one of the most profitable franchises in Hollywood history, yes. A movie that reinvigorated the science fiction genre (and created the concept of a “space opera”) and defined the concept of a “summer blockbuster,” yes.
However, from the standpoint of pure movie-making, of acting performances and well-written dialogue? Not so much. But that’s not a bad thing!
Star Wars is less a movie and more an experience. It is a spectacle. To examine why Star Wars became such a phenomenon is to examine the story and the world-building itself. To really make that special world and get audiences fully invested, you had to see the characters as characters. And not actors playing characters. And having the no-name cast for the movie helped this immensely. Remember: only Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan) had a notable career to speak of before the movie. By not having a famous cast, we could become fully immersed in the world that Star Wars created for us and get lost in the story and the mythos therein.
Stars vs. experience
But having Al Pacino in the movie would have ruined all that. Instead of being a trailblazing piece of cinema. One where we became lost in the world of Jedi’s and the Rebels Alliance and the evil Empire. Audiences would likely have focused on Al Pacino and his role in a weird space movie with robots and lasers and legendarily terrible dialogue. From the performance aspect of things, could Pacino have successfully pulled off the role of Han Solo? Of course, he could have. Playing a morally ambiguous anti-hero was his bread and butter at the time. But his star power would have overshadowed the whole project.
People would have looked at the movie as “that weird Pacino space fighting movie. You know, where people talk like robots” instead of what it ultimately became. And if that had happened, perhaps there wouldn’t have been any Star Wars franchise. Then science fiction and grand film epics may have fallen by the wayside.
So when Pacino turned down the role, the relatively unknown carpenter stepped in and became a megastar. And that leads us to the next part of this what-if:
The Domino Effect: What Happens to Harrison Ford and History of American Cinema?
If we never got Harrison Ford as Han Solo, then it’s very likely we never get Harrison Ford as the biggest yet most surprising movie star of his generation. And that would have been a tragedy. But not only that, it would have set off a domino effect that would have had untold consequences in the last fifty years of Hollywood cinema.
If Harrison Ford doesn’t get the role of Han Solo. Then it’s highly likely he doesn’t get the role of Indiana Jones, since he wouldn’t have had the star power to bank on when Steven Spielberg started his new series. If Ford never got offered the role of Indy, who would have taken it? Legend has always had it that Tom Selleck was the first choice for the role. But since he wasn’t available, Ford took over and became the undisputed star of two of the most profitable movie franchises in history.
What about Indy?
Does this mean that a different actor takes over the role of Indiana Jones and becomes a megastar? And who would it have been? Does this actor have the same impact on the series, and does the Indiana Jones series become as successful as it did with Ford in the lead role? And if it doesn’t, and Pacino takes the role of Han Solo and ruins the Star Wars franchise.
Due to overpowering the project. Does this mean that both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies are erased from Hollywood’s history as two of the greatest and most influential franchises of all time? And if the answer is “no,” what happens to the careers of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg? Worst of all: if Star Wars and the Indiana Jones movies don’t get made, what happens to the career of John Williams and his amazing compositions? Does someone else take the mantle of the greatest Hollywood composer of all time (maybe Hans Zimmer or James Horner)?
Needless to say, having Al Pacino take the role of Han Solo and erase Harrison Ford from the majority of Hollywood’s history has more far-reaching consequences than you might think of at first. But it didn’t happen. And for that, we should all be thankful that Al Pacino was made an offer and decided to refuse.
Thanks for reading, my head hurts now after all that rewriting of movie history, I’m going for a nap.
Thanks for reading our article what would have happened if Al Pacino became Han Solo. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out more of our Star Wars articles HERE.
Read IMDB information on Al Pacino HERE.
Book To Movie Adaptations Coming Soon
It seems that Hollywood is on an adaptation bender these days. With the upcoming Dune film to the To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before Netflix franchise, there is a lot of money to be made in book to screen adaptations. And there are a ton of them in the works. Here’s 15 book to movie adaptations that will soon be coming to a screen near you.
1. The House of Gucci – November 24th, 2021
You don’t have to wait long to watch this true story unfold. Written by Sara Gay Forden, the book goes into the real-life whodunnit of the murder of Maurizio Gucci. Starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, this film is coming out this November.
2. Where the Crawdads Sing – June 24, 2022
This bestseller is going to premiere next summer on Netflix. The book, written by Delia Owens follows Kya; a young woman with a turbulent life, who becomes the prime suspect in a mysterious murder. Daisy Edgar-Jones is set to play Kya.
3. The Nightingale – December 23, 2022
The Nightingale, written by Kristin Hannah, follows the lives of two French sisters after their lives are torn apart by World War Two. The film stars sisters Elle and Dakota Fanning and is set to be released on 23 December 2022.
4. The School for Good and Evil – 2022
Written by Soman Chianani, The School for Good and Evil is a middle-grade standout. It takes place at twin schools that kidnap two children every year. Alongside the children of famous fairy-tale heroes and villains, these children are then trained at either the School for Good or the School for Evil. Eventually becoming the next generation of fairy tales. This film has big names in the cast, such as Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, and Kerry Washington. The main characters Sophie and Agatha will be played by Sophia Ann Caruso and Holly Sturton. Shadow and Bone mainstay Kit Young will also be in this adaptation. It has wrapped filming and will come out sometime in 2022.
5. All Quiet on the Western Front – 2022
Who else remembers reading this in school? The classic was written by Erich Maria Remarque and chronicles the horrors of World War One. The book is being adapted as a film by Netflix. It’s going to be directed by Edward Berger and will star Daniel Bruhl. This is actually the third time the book has been adapted for the screen and will premier in 2022.
6. House of the Dragon/ Fire and Blood – 2022
Rejoice Game of Thrones fans, there’s more coming your way. Based on the book Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin, this Game of Thrones spin-off follows the Targaryens 300 years before the events of Game of Thrones. It’s being produced by HBO and will be a ten-part limited series. It’s set to premiere in 2022.
7. Bridgerton (Season 2) – 2022
The pandemic hit Bridgerton has also been renewed for season two. The second season will cover The Viscount Who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn. This love story will centre around Anthony Bridgerton. There’s no official release date, but speculation puts it at 2022.
8. A Discovery of Witches (Season 3) – 2022
AMC +’s Discovery of Witches has been renewed for season three. The show is based on Deborah Harkness’All Souls Trilogy. It centres around actors Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer as a vampire and witch who fall in love. It’s set to premiere sometime in 2022.
9. Shadow and Bone (Season 2) – 2022/2023
Netflix’s Shadow and Bone has been confirmed for a second season. It will cover the events of the second book, Siege and Storm. It’s also unclear if it will dip into the Six of Crows duology. You can read more of our coverage of season two of Shadow and Bone here.
10. Ninth House – TBD
Written by the same author of Shadow and Bone, Ninth House is Leigh Bardugo’s adult fiction series. It follows Yale freshman Alex Stern, who has the ability to see ghosts. She is hired to oversee the dark magical dealings of Yale’s secret societies and gets caught up in forces beyond her imagination. Picked up less than two days after its release in 2019, Ninth House is in the works for an Amazon series adaptation. The show does not have a release date yet and is still in pre-production. Leigh Bardugo is currently writing both the sequel and the show, according to her Instagram.
11. They Both Die at the End – TBD
When Mateo and Rufus are told that they will die, they befriend each other to enjoy their last day. After the project fizzled out at HBO, They Both Die at the End has now been picked up for a tv show by Entertainment One. The show will also be written by the author of the book, Adam Silvera. There is no release date yet.
12. The Selection – TBD
A staple of 2010s dystopian fiction, The Selection by Kiera Kass is right up there with Divergent and the Maze Runner. The Selection follows America Singer, who is selected to compete in a Bachelor-like competition to select the next Queen. What feels frivolous quickly becomes a high-stakes competition for the fate of the country. The Selection is set to premiere on Netflix as a movie. Haifaa Al-Mansour is attached to direct. You can expect to be able to watch The Selection in mid-2021.
13. The Red Queen – TBD
Another mainstay of mid-2010’s dystopia is the Red Queen series, by Victoria Aveyard. The Red Queen is set in a world divided by blood colour. The silver-blooded have superpowers and rule over the kingdom. The red-blooded are powerless; living in poverty and serving as cannon fodder to the war. But when red-blooded Mare Barrow reveals the power to manipulate lightning, everything changes. Elizabeth Banks is executive producing and directing The Red Queen for a TV series at Peacock. She will also play a key role. We’re still waiting on a release date, but Aveyard has co-written the pilot.
14. Blackout – TBD
Blackout is a collection of short stories following black teenagers who stumble upon love in the middle of a blackout in New York City. Authors include Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, and Ashley Woodfolk. The collection is going to be adapted into a six-part anthology on Netflix. The Obamas are actually producing Blackout under their flagship Higher Ground banner and Temple Hill. There is no release date yet.
15. Long Way Down – TBD
Written by Jason Reynolds, Long Way Down takes place in the sixty seconds the main character decides whether or not to murder the man who killed his brother. It’s being adapted into a feature film by Universal and is produced by John Legend and Michael De Luca. There is no release date yet.
That’s our list of 15 book to movie adaptations coming out soon. Which one are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out the five things you missed in Bridgeton Season One HERE.
Read iMDB information on The House of Gucci HERE.
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