Han Solo is arguably the most popular character in Star Wars, so much so that Harrison Ford visibly resents all the attention he gets for breathing life into the half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder. But had the cogs of history turned slightly differently, George Lucas would’ve not only cast someone else as Han Solo, the character would’ve been black.
In Empire‘s “Secret History of Star Wars” feature, it was revealed that George Lucas wasn’t looking for anyone with any specific background or ethnicity for the role of Han Solo and he wound up seeing a lot of people for the role.
One of the people Lucas saw for the role was a young black actor by the name Glynn Turman and was impressed by the guy’s audition. From Turman’s point-of-view, he thought Lucas was “very professional” and decidedly not “Hollywoodish,” which made his audition easy.
All the pieces were in place for Turman to get the role of Han Solo… except George Lucas got cold feet.
Due to how he envisioned the relationship between Princess Leia and Han, Lucas got nervous that controversy would arise from having an interracial relationship onscreen. This is pretty preposterous nowadays but keep in mind that the 70s were a much different time and folks weren’t quite as open-minded back then.
Lucas worried the controversy that may arise from seeing a black Han Solo getting together with a white Princess Leia will overshadow Star Wars as a whole and so he decided to cast Harrison Ford instead just to be on the safe side.
It’s an absolute shame we never got the black Han Solo George Lucas wanted as it would’ve made Star Wars one of the more progressive sci-fi films ever, but his concerns were understandable given the context (again, it was the 70s).
Still, we’re left with what might’ve been had Glynn Turman got to play that scruffy-looking nerf herder instead of Harrison Ford. He’ll likely be far more grateful and less grumpy when asked about the character compared to Ford that’s for sure.