There used to be a running gag at Wizard about how I had never seen Star Wars. Obviously for a professional chronicler of geek culture, not having seen the holy grail of sci fi was considered an unforgivable sin, so my colleagues got plenty of mileage and outrage out of telling fans at conventions of my little omission. Folks would come up to the Wizard Wheel of Doom, ask for a Star Wars question, I'd shrug my shoulder, everybody had a good laugh and whoever I was working with asked the kid something about Ewoks or whatever.
I have actually seen Star Wars, of course. I saw the original trilogy a bit later in life than a lot of my peers (high school if I recall correctly), but I watched 'em all. I even saw all the prequels in the theater. And it was all good; I like Star Wars well enough.
I just don't love Star Wars, and believe me, I've gotten no small amount of grief over it (don't even get me started on Lord of the Rings, which I don't even like...)
Recently though, I got to thinking: I liked Star Trek well enough when it was a TV show/series of movies starring old dudes, but I really liked J.J. Abrams' remake, leading me to ask myself...if a Star Wars got remade with some younger, sexier actors and a more modern sensibility, could I dig it? And I'm not talking doing new Star Wars flicks with different characters or stories, because I think there's like a zillion books, video games and stuff that have done that. Nah, I'm saying remake those original three movies with the plots more or less intact but with a nip here, a tuck there, and a new cast.
Is that sacrilege? Well, no point in stopping now (besides, they're remaking Buffy and I'm cranky)...here's who I would cast!
Matt Damon as Han Solo
To be fair, my answer to who should star in pretty much every hypothetical movie ever is Matt Damon, but seriously, he'd be gold here! The Bourne movies showed that he's a total badass as an action hero, but if you think back to Good Will Hunting, he can also do the smirking rogue better than just about anybody. What I really like about Damon in this part though is that he's sort of a chameleon when it comes to how old he is, as in actuality he's pushing forty and can seem it, but can also be convincing as a character ten years younger; in other words, he could be the older brother figure to Luke and the love interest for Leia and it's not weird. Finally, Matt Damon is a bonafide movie star as well as a capital "A" Actor not unlike Harrison Ford who brings instant credibility and some box office appeal to boot.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Luke Skywalker
Unlike many of my friends (including my blogmates), I'm not a big devotee of the movie Brick, but I was pretty impressed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has certainly come a long way since 3rd Rock From the Sun. He's got presence and though I've admittedly read more interviews with him than I've seen movies he's appeared in, he seems to really have a devotion to his craft that you gotta respect. I think he has the range and capability to start a character arc as an upstart punk and grow naturally into a hero you want to cheer for.
Rachel McAdams as Princess Leia
I actually had Anne Hathaway here, but Megan convinced me that Rachel McAdams is a better choice. No question she's a great actress, but the kicker for me would be her ability to pull off the duality of this character, who has to be one part classy dame and the other part ballbuster; she did the former in Wedding Crashers and the latter in stuff like Mean Girls and The Family Stone. For all the success she has had in Hollywood and all the acclaim she has garnered, I still feel like Rachel McAdams is kinda looking for a breakthrough and this could be it. And yes, she's extremely easy on the eyes--how hot a couple would her and Matt Damon be?!
Taye Diggs as Lando Calrissian
As I understand it, what you really need here is a smooth operator, and Mr. Diggs can do that and more, son. This is a guy who I constantly feel bad for despite his fame, wealth and gorgeous wife, because I truly believe he's a phenomenal actor who only ever gets mediocre parts at best. He shines in whatever he does, making the most out of what he gets, but if he could just land a role in a true mainstream showcase, I really think Taye Diggs could be one of the biggest stars going today. He can hold his own with anybody else in this cast and look good doing it; Billy Dee would be proud.
Terry O'Quinn as Obi-Wan Kenobi
Fucking Locke training Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi? Fucking Locke swordfighting with Darth Vader?! Who can't get behind this?!! In all seriousness though, one of the aforementioned "nips" I would make is having Obi-Wan be a little harder-edged in that first movie, but retaining his zen cool, so I'd say Terry O'Quinn would have this on lock down. First person to bitch that he's not British gets a prize.
Sir Ian McKellan as The Emperor
So this is a creepy old British guy, right? Well, I'd never call Sir Ian old to his face, but he kinda is, he can play creepy easy, and he is very very British. Bonuses: nerds love him, he can act real good and he knows how to wave his arms around so CGI can be added thanks to X-Men and Lord of the Rings. This one was easy.
Some UFC guy as Boba Fett
Takes his mask off one time, gets a couple hundred thousand jocks to buy tickets.
Darth Vader as Darth Vader
No, I'm not going to cast some big name to dress up in the helmet and play Vader for two and three-quarter movies when I could just have a stunt guy do it and pony the cash up to James Earl Jones to keep doing the voice. When he has to pull the mask off at the end, we'll just CGI Arnold in.
Lo and behold, as I was writing this I learned that I'm not alone here. I look forward to George Lucas calling me and my forthcoming millions.