Harrison Ford is a name synonymous with the Star Wars movies. The franchise would be completely different without him, and he’s so perfect as Star Wars character Han Solo you’d think he was cast on the spot. Not the case, and according to Ford himself, it was a long process.
On an episode of Late Night with David Letterman in 1982, Ford was asked about doing Han, and reveals that he was not exactly the first choice. “I don’t think [George Lucas] saw me for Star Wars until he’d seen every other living actor between the ages of seven and 35,” he says, after pointing out how much of a surprise it was.
“Then he asked me, and I tested like everybody else, agreed to the conditions, and did it,” Ford adds. Legend has it that Ford was in the room while Lucas was sorting out other parts in the science fiction movie epic, but as a line-reader, and his competence with the script was what landed him an audition in the end.
Lucas and Ford had worked together already, on ’70s drama movie American Graffiti, but that was nowhere near the scale of Star Wars. On the back of a galaxy far, far away, Ford became the star of the Indiana Jones movies as well, making him a total Hollywood icon.
This Letterman interview was in the run up to ’80s movie Return of the Jedi, and if Ford had his way, it would’ve been a definitive end for Han. He wanted Han to be killed as a way of closing the book on the whole saga, but Lucas had other ideas.
“I did think the character itself was relatively thin. I would have liked to see some complication for the character; the only complication I didn’t get was to die at the end of the third one,” Ford told Starpulse in 2006. “I thought that would have given the whole film a bottom, but I couldn’t talk George into it.”
We’re glad about that, even if Ford probably wasn’t! Have a look at our guide to Indiana Jones 5 for more details on Ford’s archaeology ventures, and our articles on Ahsoka and the Andor season 2 release date for more from a long, long time ago.