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

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.

ava

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.

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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 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.

life after death star

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.

new han solo actor

Moviefone sat down with screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan for a chat about all things Star Wars. While his quotes about Star Wars: The Force Awakens are awfully familiar (the man knows what he can and cannot say), he did chat about the upcoming Han Solo spin-off movie, which he is writing with his son, Jon Kasdan. Like everyone else, he's in total awe of directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord:

Yes, it's a year before Chris Miller and Phil Lord start on it. They have their own process and their own method, which I don't fully understand. You don't understand anyone else's process. They've done these extraordinary things — "The Lego Movie" was a one-off, and I think this is going to be like no other "Star Wars" movie ever. I think from now, until when they start shooting, it's going to go through a lot of changes. But it'll all be in the mode of Lord and Miller. That's what happens when you bring singular talents like that to the saga.

When asked if he thinks an unknown actor needs to be cast as the younger Han Solo, Kasdan had a perfect answer:

No, I think it has to be someone great.

Daisy Ridley still can't say much about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but in the interview above, she does chat about visiting the set of Rogue One and spending time with director Rian Johnson to prepare for Star Wars Episode 8.

tie figher cameo

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Star Wars: The Force Awakens went before cameras at the same time, igniting a friendly online rivalry between directors J.J. Abrams and Zack Snyder. However, Comic Book Movie thinks their playful little game may have spilled into the actual movie. Take a look at this screenshot from the latest Batman v Superman trailer. Is that piece of debris surrounding General Zod's World Engine supposed to resemble a TIE Fighter or is it just a coincidence?

star wars epic battles

A new series of images, titled Star Wars: The Epic Battles, have debuted over at the official Star Wars website. Although they've been created in conjunction with Toys 'R Us as part of a big interactive game for kids, these things are so full of references and jokes that any fan can appreciate them. They're gorgeous. Here are the basics:

Last December I got a call from Lucasfilm art director Troy Alders to see if I would be interested in creating new images for a secret project for Toys R Us. I was very interested and we began to discuss the project, which would become Star Wars: The Epic Battles. Collaborating with editors from Lucasfilm, Disney, and Toys R Us, we created four images, trying to find a way to make them fun and exciting –and our original idea of having about half the characters per image (as in the Celebration poster) soon melted away as each ended up with hundreds of characters, ships, details, and in-jokes.

Above is a glimpse at this amazing art. Can we buy a print of these? Please?

To give you an idea of just how insanely detailed these images are, here are some of the little in-jokes and references from one of them, the Death Star/Yavin poster:

• It's not really Yavin at all — it's actually the orbit of Endor — although it could be the Fourth Moon of Yavin. We just called it Death Star while we were working on it.

• There is a character washing an exterior window. There is a window washer character in all four pictures.

• On the surface of the Death Star, near the Y-wings and near the A-wing you can see LEGO pieces on the surface.

• You can see both halves of Darth Maul falling down the shaft where the tractor beam control is.

• Emperor Palpatine has a wampa rug.

• On the viewscreen in the Emperor's throne room you can see the Star Wars Rebels cast — who seem to be watching Luke and Vader's duel.

• Near the hanger where you can see the Falcon, there is a stormtrooper with a red balloon. Beneath that stormtrooper, you can see Darth Vader and Obi-Wan dueling — and there is a stormtrooper watching them while eating popcorn. Near them are a group of stormtroopers taking a selfie.

• A couple of levels below that you can see another stormtrooper with balloons — but this time walking a dog.

• In the very bottom right corner, you can see stormtroopers who have been shopping.

• At the very bottom, you can see detention block doors and two Imperial soldiers guarding Wicket the Ewok.

• Near the lower middle of the picture — below where the Death Star cafeteria is, you can see a Houseplant and two stormtroopers in front of a poster showing an First Order stormtroopers that says "Coming Soon" in Aurabesh.

• Below that, near the bottom center, you can see Han Solo being chased by a mouse droid — which is being chased by a house cat.

• Next to that, on a lower level you can see a fish tank that is filled with smaller versions of the Naboo fish and undersea creatures from Episode I.

• Dexter and his waitress droid are serving food in the Death Star cafeteria.

• Above the cafeteria, near Dexter, is a conduit in the shape of a "Hidden Mickey" — a collection of three circles that forms a very basic Mickey Mouse head. Artists throughout the years have put Hidden Mickeys in many Disney illustrations, movies, AND the Theme Parks. Since Disney bought Lucasfilm, I have put Hidden Mickeys in many of my illustrations.

• In the cafeteria, the food being served is actual meals that have been served at the Lucasfilm cafeteria. As well as Star Wars cereal such as C-3POs.

• The glasses are from Dexter's Diner. There is an Imperial Officer choking on some food that went down the wrong way. Near him is "Doctor Ball," the medical/torture droid.

• At the bottom left is the trash compactor. The dianoga is reading a Star Wars novel. The stormtrooper is trying to "clean the pool" of some of the junk that's found it's way down there.