Alec Guinness only did Star Wars for the money

Original Obi-Wan Kenobi star Alec Guinness got candid about acting in Star Wars: A New Hope in a series of letters to an old friend

obi-wan alec guinness

As Obi-Wan Kenobi, Alec Guinness originated one of the most famous Star Wars characters in the franchise — but letters the Stars Wars movie actor wrote to friend Anne Kaufman suggest it wasn’t exactly the Force that compelled him to take on the iconic role — but rather, the promise of financial compensation.

He discusses being offered to join the Star Wars cast in one letter dated December 1975, where he awkwardly gets George Lucas’ name wrong: “I have been offered a movie which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and North Africa starting in mid-March. Science fiction – which gives me pause – but it is to be directed by Paul Lucas who did American Graffiti, which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps.”

He then wrote a second letter in March 1976, where they were in the thick of filming the science fiction movie. “I have returned to London this evening for my stint at the studio for the rest of the week. Can’t say I’m enjoying the film – new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper – and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April even if Yahoo collapses in a week…”

He then continued by asking his friend if they’d ever heard of Harrison Ford — who, in the years since, has gone on to star in classics such as the Indiana Jones movies.

“Another bright day has dawned. . . I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet – and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford – Ellison (? – No!*) – well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety – and treat me as if I was 106 – Oh Harrison Ford – ever heard of him?”

We all like to go get that bread — at least Alec was honest about it. You can see the latest chapter in Obi-Wan’s story in Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is streaming on Disney Plus now.