Star Wars has made great strides towards diversity, but back in the ’70s and ’80s, the two-female-speaking-roles-per-Episode movies were very much boys-own stories. And predominantly white boys, for that matter.
But it turns out that George Lucas did consider a more diverse cast before shutting that idea down, with African-American actor Glynn Turman (The Wire, Gremlins, Super 8) coming very close to taking on the role of Han Solo.
“In those days it said ‘black actor’, ‘white actor’, ‘Hispanic actor’ for every role, but it didn’t say either for the Han Solo part,” Turman told Empire. “It didn’t specify ‘black actor’. I was rather pleased because I was just being called in as a talent.
“I remember George was very professional. We were all young then, so I thought he was this young guy doing his thing and I was impressed with that. He didn’t seem ‘Hollywoodish’. He seemed like a regular guy, which made him easier to talk to.”
In an interview with Creative Loafing, he added that he found out how close he came years later.
“That was in George Lucas’ book,” he said. “Apparently George Lucas had me in mind for the role, and then thought that there might be too much controversy between a white Princess Leia and a black Han Solo – because those were the times – and he didn’t want to get into that.
“At the time, I had no idea. I just went to the audition, did it and got out of there. Years later, I read his book and said, ‘What?’ I’m waiting to run into Harrison Ford and get my cut of his career!”
Star Trek famously portrayed an interracial kiss between Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner in 1968, nine years before Star Wars‘ 1977 release.
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