Al Pacino, one of Hollywood’s most legendary actors, recently revealed that he turned down a million-dollar deal to star in the iconic sci-fi film franchise Star Wars.
Hollywood legend Al Pacino recently reflected on the major Star Wars role he passed up in 1977 with George Lucas‘ first movie set in the far-off galaxy. Pacino apparently received the offer before Harrison Ford, even though Ford ultimately received the role of Han Solo. Pacino has now admitted that he received the Star Wars script and was purportedly offered a sizable sum of money to be the captain of the Millennium Falcon.
According to Variety, Pacino recently acknowledged receiving a script for 1977’s Star Wars at a speech at New York’s 92nd Street Y. Similarly, Pacino asserts that before Harrison Ford’s audition for the part, he was given a sizable sum of money to play Han Solo:
“Well, I turned down ‘Star Wars.’ When I first came up, I was the new kid on the block, you know what happens when you first become famous. It’s like, ‘Give it to Al.’ They’d give me Queen Elizabeth to play,” Pacino said. “They gave me a script called ‘Star Wars.’ … They offered me so much money. I don’t understand it. I read it. … So I said I couldn’t do it. I gave Harrison Ford a career.”
Pacino being a frontrunner for the role of Han Solo in the 1970s makes a lot of sense, especially given the friendship between Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola wrote and directed the Godfather films while playing Michael Corleone in the first two Godfather films as well as his role in Serpico.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine the precise sum Lucasfilm gave Pacino. Harrison Ford allegedly received just $10,000 (just over $50,000 after inflation) for his role as Han Solo in the original Star Wars film. Ford’s largest role, though, was in Lucas’ American Graffiti, which would have kept him out of the running to play Solo if it weren’t for the urging of casting director Fred Roos. Ford had a few smaller appearances in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. Pacino, in contrast, possessed significantly greater star power and would have most likely received a much higher salary.
What is known is that Harrison Ford received a 25-million-dollar deal to reprise his role as Han Solo in the Disney sequel trilogy. As a result, Pacino considers that sum a substantial salary that he missed out on. Surprisingly, the first Star Wars, with its revolutionary special effects of the time, did cause the movie to go over budget from 8 to 11 million. If Pacino had accepted the role of Han Solo, the rumored increase in actor compensation up front would have discouraged Fox from continuing to back Lucas’ vision when additional money was required to finish the effects.
Regardless of “what might have been,” Pacino unquestionably attributes Harrison Ford’s Hollywood success to himself, and he’s probably right. Al Pacino turned down a million-dollar deal to play the role of Han Solo in Star Wars, which opened the door for Harrison Ford to take on the role instead. Ford’s image in Hollywood was enhanced by his performance as Han Solo, which opened the door for other big-budget parts like Indiana Jones. As a result, Ford’s performance in Star Wars undoubtedly elevated him to the status of a major movie star, if not greater.