Kurt Russell Auditions for Han Solo!

It’s hard to believe that Kurt Russell is turning 60 years old today and while he has cemented his legacy by playing such iconic action heroes as Snake Plissken and Jack Burton, I’d like to present some rare audition footage that shows how close he came to being cast as Han Solo. Russell had been a very successful child actor in the 1960s and became a huge star by headlining numerous live-action Disney movies, but by the mid-seventies, he was ready to move on to bigger things and auditioned for a major role in a little film called Star Wars. Now, I’m sure we can all agree that Harrison Ford turned out to be the absolute perfect choice for Han Solo, but the idea of Kurt Russell playing the role does seem pretty awesome. However, the Kurt Russell in this audition footage is not the badass wise-cracking Kurt Russell we’d come to know and love in later years, but the Kurt Russell who’d just spent the last decade acting in cheesy Disney comedies. He does a decent enough job, but just does have not the cocky, wise-ass persona that Harrison Ford brought to the role. Russell was probably just a bit too young to play Han here and his interpretation makes the character somewhat indistinguishable from Luke Skywalker. It’s also worth revisiting a point I brought up in my “Top 10 Most Baffling Oscar Nominations” column: someone else had to have done some major uncredited rewrites on George Lucas’ original screenplay! The scene they’re rehearsing here is the one where Luke and Han discover that Alderaan has been destroyed, and man, is this scene a lot more wordy than in the finished film! It appears that Star Wars walked a really fine line between being an iconic classic and a colossal bore, but there’s only one lesson to be learned here: less George Lucas dialogue = much better movie!

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