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What If Al Pacino Was Han Solo?

Gordon Lipton

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An offer he ultimately refused

Al Pacino and Millennium Falcon image
Paramount Pictures & Lucasfilm

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.

Credibility

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.

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Movie News

The Good, The Bad And The Classic

Sarah Casserley

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Star From Disney Plus

Disney Plus Star image
Disney Plus

Disney Plus introduced Star to the service a little while ago now with loads of highlights. We’re sure, like us, you’ve had a good old delve into the catalogue and watched some of your faves. But, just in case you’ve missed anything, we have put together a little guide on what’s good to get stuck into. Also what’s bad and could do with being swiped past, and the classic must-see TV series and films that you probably didn’t even realise were there.

So, when you find yourself looking for something to watch on a Friday evening or binge for a couple of weeks, don’t scroll endlessly, just take a look at our guide of Disney Plus Star recommendations.


The Good

These are the films and series that have been released within the last 10 years, which you need to watch or should at least be on your ‘to watch’ list.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Atlanta (2016 – Present)

If you haven’t watched this series yet, why not? The creative and talented Donald Glover heads up the show as the main character ‘Earn’, and on the writing credits too (among 6 others, including his brother Stephen Glover), in this funny, gritty and realistic series which follows a rapper ‘Paper Boy’ and his manager Earn (Glover) as they navigate the rap business. If you have watched the show before, you may want to re-watch for a recap as season 3 has been promised to us very soon.

9-1-1 (2018 – Present)

This isn’t just any emergency service drama, this series covers the lives of several Los Angeles first responders: police officers, paramedics, firefighters, and dispatchers. It also has some big names involved, including Angela Bassett and, later in the series, Jennifer Love Hewitt. For some reason though, there’s only two of the four seasons of 9-1-1 on Disney Plus Star so far, but it’s well worth a watch and we’re sure the other two seasons should be along soon.

Doll Face (2019 – Present)

By the title alone, and the fact that it’s a weekly release, it initially looked like this series was set around a stereotypical break up and was destined for the bad list. However, the witty script, amazing female actors and relatable storyline made me put this series firmly within the good pile as I can’t wait to watch more. Kat Dennings takes the lead in the series and really brings to life upcoming writer Jordan Weiss’ story of female friendships after a breakup.

Films on Disney Plus Star

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

This beautiful coming of age story, based on a book with the same name, is a great watch for all ages, not just teens. Be ready for oodles of romance, as well as teary and heart-warming moments, as you follow two teens affected by cancer as they set off on a journey of discovery.

The Favourite (2018)

We love a period drama, and this quirky look at the reign of Queen Anne is no exception. With starring roles from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Nicholas Hoult, it’s no wonder The Favourite had 336 nominations in award season and 182 wins. It’s definitely one of the best films from the last 5 years on Disney Plus Star.

Deadpool 2 (2018)

There are some examples coming up in these lists that give sequels a bad name, however, Deadpool 2 isn’t one of them. If you were putting off watching this one because of the sequel curse, don’t, it’s just as good – if not better – than the first. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is back as the foul-mouthed superhero and, this time, he brings some new friends: Domino (Zazie Beetz), Fire Fist (Julian Dennison) and Weasel (T.J. Miller) among others.


The Bad

There’s not as many on this ‘bad’ list as Star has done a pretty good job with their chosen titles. However, like any service, there are always a few bad eggs in our opinion… This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch these, it’s more of a warning that there may be better things to press play on.

Series on Disney Plus Star

Lost (2004 – 2010)

To be completely honest here, the first two seasons of Lost are very entertaining and interesting to watch, as you follow several people who try to survive a plane crash and have to adapt to life on a strange island. But, by the middle of season three, things start to get a little confusing and we found ourselves getting lost (pun intended) in the plot until the final sixth season, only to be hit with a heavily reported disappointing end… even worse than some people’s feelings about Game Of Thrones. So, we recommendation delving into some of the other series rather than this one.

24: Legacy (2017)

Trying to build another series from an established series can be very hit or miss – and this one was a huge miss. So much so that Fox axed it just after one series.

It takes on the same format as the original 24 series, where one season is just one day, however, this time they are trying to stop a terrorist attack. The format just doesn’t work with this storyline and you lose a lot of momentum and excitement, plus the acting just isn’t the best.

Films on Disney Plus Star

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Just like building another series off a series, sequels can also be tricky beasts… some are good, some are bad and, when it follows an absolute classic like ‘Independence Day’, it needs to be amazing. Unfortunately, this one didn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first film; I mean, not even ‘Hunger Games’ Liam Hemsworth couldn’t get this to match up with the original. But it is still entertaining, so if you do decide to watch this one, just do so with caution.


The Classic

As you have probably already noticed there are some absolute classics on Disney Plus Star, so this is going to be the longest list, full of series that you can binge from start to finish and films that stand the test of time and can be re-watched repeatedly. Most of these titles don’t need much explanation as you’ll have already watched or heard about them, but you might not have spotted them yet on Disney Plus Star as some were buried deep in the archives.

Series on Disney Plus Star

X Files (1993 – 2001)

If you were born in the 90s or 00s, this one may have gone under your radar; however, once you watch the first season full of aliens, wired going ons and the brilliantly disjointed relationship of FBI agents, conspiracy theorist Fox Mulder and realist Dana Scully, you won’t want to stop watching. Granted some of the special effects are a little dated and unbelievable, but you will soon forget about that as you get sucked into the narrative.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2002)

I know, I know, it’s hard to think there are people out there that haven’t watched a single vampire slaying, kick-ass, sci-fi loaded episode… but there is. If you are one of those people, what are you waiting for? Every single episode is here wating for you to binge. If you don’t fancy delving into the full thing, I would recommend at least taking a peek at the seventh episode of the sixth series (Once More, with Feeling: Buffy the Musical).

24 (2001 – 2014)

Before Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) burst on our screens in 2001, this kind of format for a series had never been attempted before and it just worked, so much so it ran for 9 seasons. It may seem odd at first, as each series is just one day, but you really do get sucked in.

Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – 2018)

Within its almost 13 years of being on air, this series has offered every heart-warming and breath-holding moment you need from a hospital-based drama. This would be a perfect series to start if you want something that will last you a while.

Sons of Anarchy (2008 – 2014)

Bikes, leather and action: what’s not to like? This series ran for a glorious 7 seasons, and within these episodes, there is storyline upon storyline that will keep you hooked and wanting to know more about the motorcycle club that straddles the line between legal and illegal.

Films on Disney Plus Star

(We’re pretty sure you will have watched most of these films, but they are well worth a re-watch)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The film that started them all. Since the release of this film in 1968, there have been seven more sequels and remakes of the original sci-fi movie, two of which you can also watch on Disney Plus Star: Planet Of the Apes (2001) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).

Jewel of the Nile (1985)

It could possibly be that the countless TV showings over the have passed you by, but if you’ve not seen Jewel of the Nile, you should definitely give it a go. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito are fantastic in this pure 80s romantic action comedy.

Cocktail (1988)

Sticking within the 80s romantic comedy realm, you’ve also got Cocktail, which is full of love ultimatums, with a dash of cheese. Come on, you know you want to watch a young Tom Cruise at work.

The Fly (1986)

One name – Jeff Goldblum. Watch it.

Pretty Woman (1990)

We were just as excited as the first time we watched it when we saw this classic on the service. To not watch this again would be a big mistake. HUGE.

Toys (1992)

This wonderfully wacky story by Valerie Curtin and Barry Levinson comes alive with the help of one of the best comedic actors of all time, Robin Williams, alongside the wonderful Joan Cusack and, bizarrely, LL Cool J.

What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993)

Whether you love Tina Turner’s music or not, it does not matter. This is one of the most interesting and inspirational biographical movies that you will ever watch. Word of warning, the incredible Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishburne are so great at their roles that some of the more sensitive scenes are very realistic.

Braveheart (1995)

With any new service, there are glitches, and we found one! Whilst watching this absolute classic a few weeks ago, about two and a half hours into the film the screen when to the small screen format as if the credits had come up, making it difficult to watch the last part of the film. However, when we went to finish the film off a week later the glitch had been fixed and you can now watch the whole film without interruption… FREEDOM!

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

We all know that when it comes to film, Baz Luhrmann is a genius and he doesn’t disappoint with this abstract take on the story. It’s worth watching for the soundtrack alone.

Independence Day (1996)

90s Will Smith doing what he did best: lots of running, fighting and shouting – need I say more? Oh yes, you can also watch another one of his masterpieces, Enemy of the State (1998) on this service too.

Con Air (1997)

‘Put the bunny back in the box’ and sit down and watch this classic… we all know Nicholas Cage films can be a little unpredictable, but this film is definitely a hit, especially as he is joined by other legends of the screen, including John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, John Cusack and Ving Rhames.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Well if it’s at our fingertips, why not watch this film for the 56th time… this year.


So, there you have it, these are some of our highlights and must-miss titles from Disney Plus Star. Are there any that we missed? If so, comment below and let us know what category they belong in.


Check out the top 10 hidden gems in the other Disney Plus feeds HERE.

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