Star Wars and Al Pacino just don’t sound like they fit together, do they? Well, to be fair that’s what the actor felt back in 1977 when he was offered the role of Han Solo by George Lucas. Yep, Pacino had the chance to become the renowned Corellian smuggler as the folks at Looper have revealed, and passed on it. For Pacino back in the day this was kind of an obvious and favorable choice as it sounds as though he didn’t full understand the script and how to read for it. Besides that, Pacino had already been seen in a few notable movies that had made him the actor he was, and while greats like Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing both took on notable roles, the rest of the cast was largely unknown as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher weren’t really famous at the time. Harrison Ford had acted at that point but the chance to play Solo on the big screen gave him a serious leg up that elevated his career to a new height that may or may not have come had he said no. It’s odd then to think that Ford eventually grew tired of his time in the franchise and was ready to see an end to it, but there are other reasons for that. Seeing Pacino in this role however would have been nothing less than confusing for a lot of people since it’s usually been pretty obvious that he’s not much of a fantasy or science fiction actor. It might be typecasting him, but it’s for the best reason since he shines in dramatic movies, particularly those in which he gets to let that huge, expansive ego loose as he plays the part of a gangster or a cop, or someone with authority of some kind.
Most, if not all, Star Wars fans know that Han Solo isn’t much of an authority on that much, but he’s a cocksure individual that can back up his bluster a lot of the time and if he can’t, well, then he has Chewbacca at his side most times to help out with that issue. But the point is that Harrison has always had that cocky, kind of lopsided grin that’s made the character of Han Solo stand out, where Pacino’s smile has been fairly rare in some movies and even when it makes an appearance it’s not quite as carefree or impressive. The role of Han needed to go to someone that could be a smooth talker, a huckster, someone that was capable of talking his way out of a jam or just making it sound as though he was a little more impressive than he was. In other words it needed to go to someone that could really show a lot of emotion, and while Al Pacino has been a great actor for many years, and he does have a great range of emotion, it just doesn’t feel as though it would have been right for the part of Solo. He’s simply too reserved most times for the role, too hidden in a way until he needs to explode and really let his emotions out.
Plus, the look of the two men is so different that it would have still been difficult to accept Pacino had he said yes. Even when he’s not done up like Michael Corleone or Serpico or Scarface, he still doesn’t look like the kind of guy that would best represent Solo. Obviously looking at him back in the day would have been a lot different since there was no such character as Han Solo to use as a reference yet, but trying to put him in such a role even mentally doesn’t feel like it would fit. Pacino has always been great in more realistic movies that have a very criminal lean to them no matter what side he’s on, and this has been his strength for a long time. Harrison Ford on the other hand does have that sort of rugged, unrefined look that can be dressed up as a school teacher but also used to make him look like someone that lives on the fringes and scrapes by to get what he can and do with it what he will. In other words he has the look of someone that could be a tough as nails smuggler that has a quick wit and an even quicker draw.
The things you find out when they’re revealed or when you go digging are amazing really since until now a lot of people might not have known this ever happened, but George Lucas was really trying to land the best actors he could back in the day, and while he lucked out with a couple of people it’s actually fortunate that he didn’t get Pacino.