Big Trouble in Little Endor? Kurt Russell could’ve been Han Solo in Star Wars

Man points his gun in Big Trouble in Little China.
20th Century Fox

The first Star Wars is a classic that kicked off a movie franchise that has earned billions of dollars just in ticket sales alone. But in 1976, it was a silly little sci-fi project from the kid who struck gold with American Graffiti in 1973. Still, it was appealing enough to attract some talent to audition for it, especially its three lead roles: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo.

Earlier this year, Jodie Foster revealed she had once auditioned for Leia and was good enough to be offered the part. For Luke, ’70s teen heartthrob William Katt unsuccessfully tried out for the part. However, it was the character of Han Solo that drew newcomers and veterans alike. (Can you blame them?)

Among them was a fresh-faced Kurt Russell, who, at this point in his career, was trying to make the successful transition from Disney child star (he was in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and Superdad) to legitimate actor. In a recently resurfaced audition tape seen below, Russell reads a key scene from Star Wars with an unidentified actress playing Leia.

After watching the clip, I have to say that Russell kinda nails it. No disrespect to Harrison Ford, but Russell has the same gruff manner, and innate charm, that made Han Solo one of the best sci-fi characters ever. I can see Russell saying “I know” to Fisher’s Leia at the end of The Empire Strikes Back and I can picture Russell as Solo looking confused as he figures out Luke and Leia are siblings in Return of the Jedi. Hell, I can even see an older Russell come back for The Force Awakens and play opposite a stoic Adam Driver as his bad boy son Kylo Ren. Man, when you think about it, the Sequel Trilogy really stinks.

Strangely, while I can see Russell replacing Ford as Solo, the same can’t be said for another iconic role of Ford’s: Indiana Jones. Similarly, Ford couldn’t quite pull off Snake Plissken from Escape from New York. Both actors aren’t interchangeable, and they each have their own distinctive qualities that have made them icons. But for Han? Yeah, Kurt Russell wouldn’t have been bad at all.