Harrison Ford Was Initially Used to Find Han Solo, Not Become Him

Although Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo is such a perfect marriage of actor and character that it seems like a no-brainer decision to cast him in hindsight, it makes sense why Lucas was reluctant to consider the actor for “Star Wars” given his performance as Bob Falfa in “American Graffiti.” Although flashes of Ford’s trademark charm and intensity can be seen in the character (and, of course, Ford’s natural rugged handsomeness is very much on display), Falfa is ultimately an antagonistic and a somewhat pathetic character, a local bully of a drag racer whose arrogance outpaces his skill.

When it came time for Lucas to start casting “Star Wars,” he (in)famously pooled resources with pal Brian De Palma, who began casting his adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie” during the same sessions. These auditions were haphazard enough that even Mark Hamill, the future Luke Skywalker, was confused as to which movie he was actually auditioning for.

Still, Lucas provided some structure by using Ford as “a foil” (as the director put it in a vintage interview) for the other actors auditioning for Luke to read against. Since many of Luke’s audition scenes were shared with the Han Solo character, Ford was most often reading the part of Solo for the various Lukes, and as Lucas recalled, this landed the actor the part:

“And I shot the screen tests, and y’know, when you watch the screen tests of him playing the role and the other actors who were up for the role playing the role, there was just no question about who was the best. And, y’know, so I hired him for ‘Star Wars.'”

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