Depending on your specific fandom(s) the name Mark Hamill will likely mean one of two things to you. To some he's the finest voice actor ever to portray the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, the Batman: Arkham video game franchise and more animated iterations of the famous Batman villain.
But to the majority of people Hamill is iconic as the actor to portray Star Wars franchise hero Luke Skywalker - appearing in four of the seven films in the universe as the Jedi who lost a hand to his father, Darth Vader.
Of course these two aren't his only big roles but they are perhaps his most prolific. The conclusion of [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) when Luke turns to face Rey (Daisy Ridley) and lowers his hood was the most anticipated moment of the entire film for a lot of people, and it was our first look at the 64-year old Mark Hamill as the older Jedi master Luke Skywalker. And somehow, despite his incredibly limited role in the movie, he did not disappoint.
But our image of Luke was nearly very different.
According to the official Star Wars website actor/director Charles Martin Smith (American Graffiti, The Untouchables) and actor/musican William Katt (The Greatest American Hero, Carrie) were in line to portray Skywalker before the part went to Hamill for "his earnest line delivery".
And another big Hollywood star has spoken up recently about his experience almost playing one of the most iconic characters in sci-fi history. As it turns out 80s cult action movie star Kurt Russell did in fact audition not only for the role of Luke Skywalker, but for that of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) too.
In 1976, when A New Hope was in the early stages of casting, Russell (along with the other "usual suspects in their twenties" rolled up to audition for the film. From the sounds of things George Lucas was quite impressed with his performance, as Russell tells The Daily Beast that the director couldn't decide whether to cast him as Luke or Han.
However at the time he was also being offered the part of Morgan 'Two Persons' Bodeen in TV Western The Quest, a role that Russell was very interested in. Eventually Russell told Lucas to take him out of the running as he decided to take the role in The Quest, and claims that he's still unsure if he would've gotten offered either of the roles in the end.
"I was in there on Star Wars and remember asking George [Lucas] one day, 'Do you think you’re going to use me or not?' And he said, 'I don’t know which part I prefer you in. I don’t know if I like you as Han and this guy as Skywalker, or this guy as Han and you as Skywalker. I don’t know.' I said, 'I gotta make a decision on this Western and I gotta go to work,' and he said, 'I just can’t give you an answer.' So I said, 'All right, I’m going to go take this Western and there will be one less guy to think about.' I don’t know if he would’ve hired me."
Though it's certainly odd to think of Luke Skywalker being played by anyone other than Mark Hamill it's not an unbelievable stretch to see Russell in the role. He's certainly looking the part for an older more grizzled Luke nowadays, what with the fantastic facial hair he's been sporting for The Hateful Eight.
Unfortunately we don't have any footage of what Russell would've looked like as Luke Skywalker, but there is a tape of him reading for Han Solo available online and - though it's impossible to imagine anyone but Harrison Ford in the role - he's actually pretty good.
Check it out below!