Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: George Lucas and Brian De Palma swapped lead actresses for Carrie and Star Wars.
The original Star Wars has had one of the most legendary casting processes in film history. In a past Movie Legend, we talked about how Harrison Ford was cast as Han Solo despite not actually being technically up for the role. However, perhaps even more interesting is how the overall casting process was managed. You see, before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg became movie superstars, the duo were part of a small close-knit group of young directors that included John Milius, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma (plus Francis Ford Coppola to a certain extent). They helped one another with each other’s films, even betting with each other on how well their respective films would do (always in a “your film is going to do better than my film” way – the most famous example is Spielberg ending up with a cut of Star Wars based on a bet he and Lucas made). That sense of cooperation led to a fascinating joint casting call for Lucas’ Star Wars and De Palma’s Carrie, where the outgoing De Palma ran the actual casting call and then they would pick from the actors together.
This has led to the famous, much-repeated story that
originally Sissy Spacek was cast as Princess Leia in Star Wars and Carrie Fisher in the film Carrie. however, Fisher was not willing to do nude scenes and Spacek had no problem with this, so the two switched parts.
Is that true?
Carrie Fisher settled the story pretty well in an article Tom Russo wrote for Premiere Magazine, “Not only do I love being nude, I would’ve been nude then. Maybe. But anyway, it’s total bullshit.” Not only did the trade not happen, it does not appear as though Lucas ever even considered Spacek for the Leia role at all. In fact, the only main actress from Carrie that had a real shot at Leia was Amy Irving, who played Sue, the one girl at Carrie’s school who was actually nice to her. De Palma made that clear in that same Premiere article, where he notes that Irving was “the only case where [George and I] had similar desires casting-wise.”
Irving auditioned for Leia alongside actor Christopher Allport (reading for Han Solo)…
William Katt (a few years before becoming the Greatest American Hero) was the male lead in Carrie and he auditioned for Luke Skywalker (he read alongside Kurt Rusell, trying out for Han Solo)…
So no, no trade! But it does make for a compelling “What If…?” even if it was a What If..? that never existed.
The legend is…
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.