Star Wars Bits: Toshiro Mifune Turned Down Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader, J.J. Abrams Wants Ava DuVernay to Direct a Star Wars Movie
Posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2015 by Jacob Hall
Welcome back to Star Wars Bits, your regular dose of Star Wars news that won’t quite fit anywhere else! In today’s edition:
- The great Toshiro Mifune turned down two roles in Star Wars.
- J.J. Abrams wants Ava DuVernay to direct a Star Wars movie.
- Rogue One has started filming in a new location.
- Star Wars and Notorious B.I.G. get mashed up.
- Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan talks about the Han Solo spin-off.
- Daisy Ridley talks about acting in Star Wars and fan reactions.
Legendary actor Toshiro Mifune, best known for his collaborations with director Akira Kurosawa, could have been in the original Star Wars. This fascinating bit of trivia was recently revealed by his daughter, Mika Mifune, who says that he was originally offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi:
I heard from my father that he was offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai, on which George Lucas had based a lot of the character and fighting style.
This makes a lot of sense if you understand George Lucas‘ tastes. Lucas has never been shy about his love for the films of Kurosawa, so he was already familiar with Mifune’s work in masterpieces like Seven Samurai and Rashomon. The basic structure of the original Star Wars was even loosely based on Kurosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress. When Mifune turned down Obi-Wan, Lucas countered with another character:
At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride. So then, there was talk about him taking the Darth Vader role as his face would be covered, but in the end he turned that down too.
Although it’s hard to argue with the eventual casting of Alec Guinness and and David Prowse/James Earl Jones in those roles, we’d love to have a peek into an alternate universe where Mifune said yes to either character.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has promised a more diverse Star Wars universe and so far, she’s delivered. The casts of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars story are both filled with women and performers of various ethnic backgrounds. The galaxy is finally starting to look a little less white. Kennedy’s next big goal is to get a woman into the director’s chair on a Star Wars movie and J.J. Abrams (speaking with Yahoo) already knows whom he’d pick for the job:
One name that immediately comes to mind is Ava DuVernay, who I thought did just a mind-blowingly great job with Selma. And getting to know her a little since that movie… she is such a fan of genre films and storytelling.
While DuVernay is an incredibly talented and skilled filmmaker, would she have any interest in making a Star Wars movie? After all, Marvel Studios pursued her for Black Panther and that didn’t work out. However, Abrams qualified his statement by adding that DuVernay was a…
… knee-jerk reaction, because she loves the world so much and loves this genre and is such a talented storyteller. So if I had a say in this, which I don’t, I’d give her whatever she wants.
C’mon, Lucasfilm. Give DuVernay a budget and let her run wild in the Star Wars universe. She’s bound to create something interesting.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been filming in relative secrecy, so any little piece of news related to the production is welcome. The latest tidbit: the production has moved to Laamu Atoll, an archipelago nation located in the Republic of Maldives. Although the country’s minister of tourism won’t confirm that Rogue One is shooting there, he will confirm that a Hollywood movie is shooting there and that 200 locals are working on the set in some capacity. However, the film’s stars, including Forrest Whitaker and Felicity Jones, have been spotted at the Ibrahim Nasir airport. So there you go: at least one planet in Rogue One will resemble a gorgeous tropical island.
Two new images showing off the toy version of the speeder bike driven by Ezra on Star Wars Rebels have arrived online. And they look, well, exactly how you’d expect them to look. It turns out that creating a sculpt of an animated character tends to produce more accurate results than trying to create an action figure that actually looks like Harrison Ford or Oscar Isaac.
Some mad genius decided to mash up the music of Star Wars with tracks from the late, great hip-hop artist Notorious B.I.G. “Life After Death Star” has absolutely no right to work. This should be terrible. Somehow, against all odds, it’s not. You can download the whole thing for free right here.