You may have seen Saturday Night Live’s versions of the auditions for Star Wars—Kevin Spacey does Christopher Walken doing Han Solo, and so on—but have you ever seen the actual auditions for Star Wars? I didn’t know any of them were online until I saw Open Culture post Mark Hamill’s screen test yesterday.
In addition to showing off the chops that got Hamill the part—they don’t always come through in the final film, but here he’s remarkably natural—the video also offers a look at an earlier version of Star Wars. Here what would become Alderaan is still Organa Major, a name that sounds more like something around the corner from a Uranus joke than the locus of a major tragedy. The dialogue is even more cumbersome than in the final film—Harrison Ford would go on to complain, “George, you can type this s—, but you sure can’t say it”—but thankfully the actors don’t seem to require much of Lucas’s famously inadequate coaching.
Compare Hamill’s audition with that of William Katt (The Greatest American Hero, Carrie). Katt conveys a lot of emotion from underneath that hair, but the deep-voiced actor doesn’t have the same natural boyishness that’s so central to Skywalker’s character, and which makes his transformation so dramatic.
For a different vision of what could have been, you can also see Kurt Russell’s audition for the role of Han Solo. Any fan of Russell’s knows he can play a rogue with the best of them—it wasn’t long before he would become a star in the roles of Snake Plissken and R.J. MacReady—but here it’s hard not to compare his more fidgety Han Solo with the scruffy-looking rascal we came to love.
(For more Star Wars auditions, go to YouTube.)
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