General Grievous Was Almost Played By Gary Oldman

One of the most underrated Star Wars characters ever is the cyborg villain, General Grievous. When this character made his debut in the animated Genndy Tartakosky Clone Wars series in 2003, he became an instant fan-favorite. Not only was he able to take on multiple Jedi on his own, he had no connection to the force. Not at all. In fact, he was considered to be a “droid general” by his enemies and even several Jedi masters could barely hold their own against him. For a new enemy who couldn’t use the force, that’s pretty impressive. What made this villain so formidable was the fact that he was trained in lightsaber combat by Count Dooku. As this made him a skillful duelist, he could also wield four lightsabers all at once. One of the benefits of being a droid.

We saw this in the old Clone Wars series and this unique ability basically became his trademark. But he was the field leader of the Separatist droid army for a reason. He had the ability to lead, to strategize, and to outwit several Jedi commanders. In fact, the second season of the Tartakosky Clone Wars series gave us the perfect explanation to his approach to fighting Jedi. As Count Dooku taught him, his best chance of defeating the best of the Jedi was to break them before he engaged them. That meant exhausting his Jedi prey before challenging them so he could quickly move in for the kill. The best example of that was his very first fight scene. The small group of Jedi he fought were already exhausted from hours of fighting his droid army and when he got them in a corner, he attacked them.

Not only was it one of the best Star Wars fight scenes ever, it gave us his main theme music. How can you not get goosebumps while listening to that? After the Tartakosky Clone Wars series, General Grievous made his live-action debut in Revenge of the Sith. I won’t lie, I think he should have stuck around a little bit longer. Once he whipped out all four of his lightsabers and went all fidget spinner on Obi-Wan, stuff was about to go down. And then Obi-Wan cut off two of his arms like eight seconds into the fight. Oh, and then it became a one-sided fistfight.

The only reason Obi-Wan won was because he used the force to grab a blaster and he shot the bejesus out of General Grievous. And that was the end of that villain. So uncivilized, am I right? Speaking of Revenge of the Sith, I think we should point out a fun fact about it. While voice actor Matthew Wood would become the man to voice General Grievous, George Lucas originally had someone else in mind. Oh, and not just anyone. His original choice to play the lightsaber-wielding cyborg was the phenomenal Gary Oldman. No, seriously. I hardly believed it when I first read about it, but it’s true.

It obviously didn’t happen, but let’s take a minute and just imagine if it did. An Oscar-winning and legendary actor like Gary Oldman playing a supporting antagonist in a Star Wars movie? Why didn’t this happen? I really wish it did just so we can hear what his voice would’ve sounded like. Given that the man has dozens of different voices, I think it’s hard to imagine exactly what it could have been like. And since he always sounds so menacing when he plays a villain, you can bet his General Grievous voice would have scared you. Just imagine a droid general with a heavy Russian accent. Okay, maybe not, but bottom line, Gary Oldman would have undoubtedly sounded cool as General Grievous.

So why didn’t this happen. During an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Gary Oldman spilled some details. According to him, he lost out on the role due to union issues at Revenge of the Sith’s shooting location in Australia. Despite that, he did reveal that he was able to provide some recordings before departing from it. Whoa, now that is a very interesting little detail. So according to Gary Oldman, an audio recording of his General Grievous voice actual does exist somewhere. I can imagine there are hundreds of Star Wars fans out there who are itching to hear it. Is there a chance we could ever hear these recordings? There’s always a slim possibility, but someone over at Lucasfilm can always just release it. I mean, would there really be any harm? Of course not.

As for working with George Lucas, Gary Oldman had nothing but good things to say about him. Their working relationship was good, his voice acting was most likely great, but sadly, it just couldn’t make it in the final cut. I think I’m okay with that, since Matthew Wood delivered a fiendish voice for General Grievous. That is the voice for that villain and I don’t think anyone else could possibly replicate it. But come on, how can you not want to hear Gary Oldman’s General Grievous? We almost had it, just like many other things in the Star Wars universe. Personally, this is something I wish we got above all the other would-be Star Wars castings and ideas. It sounds like a minor element, but come on, Gary Oldman. Nuff said.

Again, I still think we could hear those audio recordings in some capacity in the future. Most likely, and if we do hear it, an old Lucasfilm employee will leak it. Heck, George Lucas probably has some of those recordings in a hard drive stored somewhere in his ranch. I think he needs to give us just one or two lines of Gary Oldman’s General Grievous saying something menacing. That’s all we need. It’s really lame that such a popular and respected actor like Gary Oldman couldn’t officially join Star Wars, but it’s an interesting thought that he was so close to playing General Grievous.

What are your thoughts, Star Wars fans?

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