Recently, acclaimed actress Jodie Foster made the surprise revelation that she was offered the iconic role of Princess Leia in the original 1977 Star Wars film, but ultimately turned it down due to scheduling conflicts.
At the time, Foster was 14 years old and just starting her acting career. Princess Leia became one of the most beloved characters in cinema history and was memorably portrayed by the late Carrie Fisher across multiple Star Wars films over the decades. Fisher’s performance defined the character to generations of fans.
Foster shed light on this little-known casting near-miss while appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. She explained the full story behind passing on the part and why she doesn’t regret the decision.
Background on the Star Wars Audition Process
In 1976, writer/director George Lucas was casting for his ambitious, unconventional space fantasy film Star Wars. For the crucial roles of heroic Luke Skywalker, headstrong Princess Leia, and roguish Han Solo, he sought young actors with promise but not high profiles.
Many now-famous performers auditioned or were considered, including:
- Kurt Russell
- Sissy Spacek
- Amy Irving
- Cindy Williams
- William Katt
- Full list of rumored candidates
Lucas looked at over 500 hopefuls before settling on his final trio of leads. Foster was one of the many ingénues asked to try out.
Details on Foster’s Audition and Offers
Foster first publicly acknowledged her Star Wars opportunity during a 2015 interview with MTV. However, in her Tonight Show appearance, she expanded significantly on the specifics.
The Oscar-winning actress contextualized by saying, “I already had a career at that point. I had done like eight movies already.” Indeed, starting with a role at age 3, a teenage Foster had established herself in acclaimed films such as Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver.
Still, the Star Wars audition tempted her:
“They brought me in as one of the finalists for Princess Leia… I actually talked to George Lucas about it. And I turned it down and I recommended Carrie Fisher strongly, and I don’t even know if Carrie Fisher was actually after me. But in my mind, I was convinced that she would be better than I was. And I also got worried that I wasn’t bad-ass enough.”
So Foster declined the part, suggesting friend Fisher instead. Variety later reported Lucas then formally offered the role to Foster, but she found the proposed long-term contract problematic given her burgeoning career:
“There was already a television series planned and there were all these things. And I was getting pigeonholed into this role for like three or four years.”
No Regrets Over Turning Down Such an Iconic Role
While Princess Leia became one of the most famous characters ever, inspiring cosplay and merchandise galore, Foster stands by her choice not to embody her on the big screen.
As a minor, the intensive commitment to the Star Wars universe would have greatly hindered Foster’s ability to accept other interesting projects being offered. Foster succinctly rationalized to Jimmy Fallon:
“I don’t know if I would’ve ended up growing the way that I wanted to grow as an actress in that way had I actually taken that job at 14.”
Indeed, in 1977 itself Foster starred in the thriller The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. This cemented her maturation into more adult roles, as did subsequent picks like Carny and Foxes. Being tied down to family-friendly Star Wars duty may have made such transformations impossible in the eyes of the industry.
So while imagining an alternate reality with Foster delivering Leia’s spunky speeches can be fun for fans, the actress is doubtlessly thankful events proceeded as they did. Her esteemed career—including The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs, Contact and many more—speaks for itself.
Carrie Fisher’s Enduring Princess Leia Legacy Lives On
Given her long background in entertainment as Hollywood royalty, Carrie Fisher turned out to be perfectly cast as the regal but hot-headed Princess Leia Organa.
Fisher immediately made the feisty character an icon with her instantly legendary double side bun hairdo alone. And she infused the rebel leader with her trademark wit and pathos over the original and sequel Star Wars trilogy episodes spanning 1977 to 1983.
Tragically, Fisher passed away suddenly in 2016 at only age 60. But her history-making portrayal as Leia still inspires new generations discovering the ever-growing Star Wars universe. Disney even crafted a beautiful conclusion for the character across their recent sequel films, allowing Leia to wield the Force and complete her victorious arc.
While Princess Leia achieved immortality through Carrie Fisher’s eyes, Jodie Foster’s choice to follow her own professional path also proved wise. Both actresses left behind lasting legacies appreciated by billions across the globe.
Jodie Foster’s surprising reveal of nearly starring in perhaps the most famous film franchise ever makes for an intriguing case of alternate history to consider. Would her incarnation of Leia have matched Fisher’s swagger and spunk? Would being so linked to blockbuster popcorn flicks have diminished Foster’s quest for more serious fare?
In any case, Foster cutting her own path led to all-time great performances over the subsequent decades. And Carrie Fisher brought Princess Leia to life so unforgettably that Foster passing the torch was surely the will of the Force. Foster herself agrees with a smile, judging her choice ultimately served the part very well indeed.
What Happens Next
Looking ahead, Foster continues her prolific acting career, while the Star Wars juggernaut marches on under Disney’s guidance.
- Upcoming Foster films like True Detective season 5 hint she remains as compelling as ever
- Disney+ Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian and Ahsoka keep advancing the space saga
And Leia’s legacy is in good hands via General Larma D’Acy, portrayed by Amanda Lawrence in The Rise of Skywalker and beyond.
So the intersection of these two cinema powerhouses will doubtless fuel interesting discussion for years to come, even as their destinies diverged long ago.
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