Al Pacino Walked Away from Over $20 Million Turning Down a Major ‘Star Wars’ Role

Star Wars is perhaps the most well-known entertainment franchise of all-time. The space opera epic has resulted in eleven feature films, a number of television shows, comic books, novels, action figures, and an endless variety of merchandise. Created by George Lucas, the franchise has produced an incredible amount of wealth for Lucas, his studio, and the actors that have starred in the high-grossing movies.

These actors include now household names such as Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), John Boyega (Finn), and many more. One of the most famous names in Star Wars history is Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford. Ford received the role despite being a somewhat unknown name in the entertainment industry, but he was not the only choice, as the role was first offered to a much more famous name, Al Pacino

Al Pacino smiling, looking off camera
Al Pacino | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

What is ‘Star Wars’ about? 

The Star Wars film franchise is split into three main trilogies, the original, prequel, and sequel. There are also two related side stories Solo: A Star Wars Story and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. All of the Star Wars films feature a core of main characters, and their adventures during various times of their lives. The central focus of the films is the Skywalker family and the struggle between the light and dark side of the force that looms large in their lives.

Besides the Skywalkers, a number of aliens, robots, and humanoid characters have contributed to the franchise’s worldwide success. One of these characters is the slick smuggler and captain of the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo. Han is also known for his romance with Princess Leia, which results in their child Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Ford was a major part of the initial trilogy’s success, and when the sequel trilogy was announced in January 2016, many fans wondered if Ford, Hamill, and Fisher would return to the franchise.  

Who is Al Pacino? 

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Known for such roles as Michael Corleone in The Godfather franchise, and Tony Montana in Scarface, Pacino is one of the most recognizable actors in film history. When Pacino was offered the role of Han in 1977, he had already appeared in a number of high-profile movies including both of The Godfather films. The role of Han is not the only iconic role that Pacino refused, as he was also offered leading parts in Apocalypse Now and Pretty Woman.

Of course, Pacino declined and went on to star in films such as Glengarry Glen Ross, Heat, Insomnia, and many others. The iconic actor’s more recent roles include appearances in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the Amazon Prime original series Hunters. Pacino has had a long and legendary acting career, and one that could have been even more iconic and wealthy if he had accepted the role of one of Star Wars’ most famous characters. 

What ‘Star Wars’ role did Pacino turn down? 

Ford has become synonymous, and wildly rich, with his role as Han Solo, but he was not the only actor considered for the role. According to Insider, Pacino confirmed that he was offered the part, and the role “was mine for the taking, but I didn’t understand the script.” Pacino was not alone in his confusion by Lucas’ script, as the writer and director had to fund the majority of the film with his own money.

That decision certainly paid off for Lucas, who was able to control the rights of the franchise under his own Lucasfilm studio, which he later famously sold to Disney for billions of dollars. As a result of that deal, Harrison Ford ended up with an impressive net worth after playing Han Solo. Ford was offered $25 million alone to return to the sequel trilogy, according to Variety, which could have been Pacino’s has things gone differently years ago. Pacino could have had that increased fame, glory, and money if he had just agreed to be in an unheralded space movie way back in 1977.