Christopher Walken Was Happy To Lose The Han Solo Role To Harrison Ford

Everyone's favorite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder is far from the Han Solo that George Lucas had in his head when he first started writing his script for 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope." In Lucas' initial draft, titled "The Star Wars," Han was "a huge, green-skinned monster with no nose and large gills." By the time Lucas wrote his second draft, dubbed "The Star Wars: Adventures of the Starkiller," Han had become a human Corellian pirate described as "a burly-bearded but ruggedly handsome boy dressed in a gaudy array of flamboyant apparel."

The iteration of Han in Lucas' fourth draft, "Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Starkiller," is more or less the version Harrison Ford would ultimately play — "a tough James Dean-style" 30-something human pilot-for-hire who's "simple, sentimental, and cocksure of himself." He's a character not all that far removed from Bob Falfa, the trash-talking, over-confident drag racer Ford memorably portrayed in Lucas' 1973 breakout hit "American Graffiti." This was also why Lucas was hesitant to cast Ford in his space opera, as he hoped to distance the film from his tender, wistful ode to his teen years.

Indeed, Lucas cycled through a who's who of up-and-coming names in the '70s before realizing there was only one man for the job. Some of his choices made sense enough, like Kurt Russell (an actor who made a career out of playing Han Solo-types). Others, like Sylvester Stallone, knew they were ill-fit to pilot the Millennium Falcon right off the bat. Out of all the known contenders, however, Christopher Walken is easily the strangest pick. One need only imagine Walken delivering lines like "Never tell me the odds!" in his unique intonations to grasp my meaning.

'I would have been terrible'

The same year "A New Hope" opened in theaters, Walken played a small but noteworthy role in "Annie Hall" as the titular character's brother Duane. A rather odd fellow, Duane inexplicably admits to Annie's boyfriend Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) that he often fantasizes about crashing into oncoming traffic while driving at night. Walken delivers this confession with the utmost sincerity, which makes it all the funnier when (you guessed it) Duane ends up driving Annie (Diane Keaton) and Alvy to the airport shortly after.

After winning an Oscar for his intense turn as a traumatized Vietnam War veteran in 1978's "The Deer Hunter," Walken settled into his groove as a character actor who specializes in playing oddballs, some more over-the-top eccentric and baleful than others. But could there really be a bizarre reality somewhere in the multiverse where, instead of being known for his fixation on cowbell and stashing gold watches in, uh, unusual parts of his body, Walken is famous for blasting Imperial Stormtroopers? Is it even possible, in that same reality, it was Walken and not Ford who would go on to play Jack Ryan, chase the one-armed assassin who killed his wife, and toss Gary Oldman off his plane?

If that timeline exists, it seems Walken has a hard time picturing it. "I'm very glad Harrison Ford got [the role of Han Solo]," he told The Guardian in 2021. "I would have been terrible." He also shrugged it off when his interviewer tried to suggest otherwise, saying he's quite content with the career he's had. "It's all about accidents. I've had some good accidents," he added.

Walken might've been all wrong for Han Solo, but could Harrison Ford casually dance and fly around a ritzy hotel? I think not.