<i>by Michael Doran, Newsarama Senior Editor</i> <p>We know, we know. Just because J.J. Abrams is now likely directing the next <b>Star Wars</b> movie doesn't mean he's rebooting it like he did <i>Star Trek</i>. By every indication if he has indeed reached a deal with Disney, it'll be to direct the already-written or being-written Episode VII. <p>But that doesn't mean the idea of a reboot of the original trilogy isn't intriguing. It'd certainly solve one problem, how to eventually move into the future of episodes VII-IX (and beyond) while maintaining strong ties to the original trilogy (and its cast), something that may be difficult to pull off now 36 years-and-counting removed from the first film. <p>So while it's likely sacrilege in some fans circles to even consider a reboot of the original trilogy out loud, we're going to ask you to spend a few moments in a purely What If?' alternate reality, and recast 10 key roles from the first three (and in some cases five and six) films with contemporary actors. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
We're going with two picks here, either of which would work for different reasons. Craig would be a fascinating choice simply for the cold-blooded, steely-eyed edge he uses to create heroic effect as James Bond. <p>While Craig has stuck mostly to good-guy roles, he seems well-equipped to inhabit a screen villain, and he'd be our pick for someone with the presence to seem on equal footing as Vader, and would laser-beam Alderaan out of existence just because he could. <p>That said, just say this line in your head in your best Christopher Walken impersonation: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration but don't worry; we will deal with your rebel friends soon enough.
He's already on Disney's radar, playing the role of Heimdall in the <i>Thor</i> films, and is amassing further genre credibility with parts in <i>Prometheus</i>, and <i>Pacific Rim</i>. <p>Lando is a complicated dude, and it'd be cool to see his conflicted, duplicitous nature play out before doing the full-on hero turn. Elba's got the appeal to keep audiences from immediately hating him and range to take him on a little mini-journey to full-on one of the gang.
We considered Hopkins for Obi-Wan, and while quiet, gentle dignity personifies Hopkins as a man and many of his roles, let's remember his most iconic movie turn was as crazy-eyed Hannibal Lecter in <i>Silence of the Lambs</i>. Just imagine that level of evil-incarnate menace under the Emperor's black hood. <p>Heck, you wouldn't even need the makeup. Just those Lecter-ish laser-evil eyes piercing your soul would make most anyone turn to the Dark Side.
It'd likely be too jarring to hear any other accent coming from the perpetually anxious, motor-mouthed protocol droid than a British one, but it might be just as jarring to hear an iconic/distinctive comedic Brit like ...say just about any living member of Monty Python or Rowan Atkinson. <p>We considered Sacha Baron Cohen given his ability to invent distinctive accents, and Hugh Laurie (whose comedic roots would play well here) but decided to go with comedian/actor Eddie Izzard. Not as well-known outside of Great Britain as he is inside (at least in the U.S. anyway), Izzard, with his stream-of-consciousness style of delivery, would be able to create a unique take on the hyper-verbal Threepio while allowing audiences to maintain mental distance between the actor and the droid.
OK, we know we're going to take hell for this one, but let's face it; the original trilogy is a bit of a, pardon the expression, "sausage fest." <p>We also considered a gender switcharoo for Lando and the Emperor, but we couldn't come up with a single gender-specific argument for Yoda. Why the hell can't Yoda be female? Hell, who's to say Yoda's race (which has never been defined in any media) even has male-female distinctions, or why a male can't have a female voice in whatever neck of the galaxy Yoda hails from. <p>Dench's work as M in the recent <i>Bond</i> films shows she more than musters as much mentor-ish gravitas laced with dry humor as any male actor of her maturity and stature.
Here's an actor who can comfortably slip into the sage mentor role (see Lucius Fox from the <i>Batman</i> trilogy) and who seems to be equally comfortable playing edgy than he does playing gentle, soft-spoken, and dignified. <p>At a reported 6'2?", Freeman would make for a more imposing physical presence than Sir Alex Guinness did, adding a little credibility to the climatic lightsaber duel with the 7 foot-ish Darth Vader, in a day and age where moviegoers might expect a little more action than the original Obi-Wan/Vader showdown offered.
It almost seems an impossible task to try to get the world to forget the iconic pipes of James Earl Jones as the Dark Lord of the Sith, but then again, when you hear the actor's voice in CNN or Verizon promos, or The Lion King or his famous baseball speech in <i>Field of Dreams</i>, is it Jones' voice you're recognizing or Vader's? <p>With a little electronic filtering, we think a few actors could pull off a new take arguably the most famous screen villain of all time. So here's another listen to it in your head moment... imagine this well-known Neeson passage of dialogue with the infamous mechanical/respirator-filtering mixed in. <p>I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. <p>Sold! (Well, if you can successfully look past the fact that he played Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode 1.)
We gave momentary consideration to Gerard Butler and Vince Vaughan ... yes, Vince Vaughan, for no other reason he's the guy who described the type of Han we'd like to see in a remake, while at the same time personifying the very type. <p>Recall his bar room pep talk to Jon Favreau in <i>Swingers</i> I don't want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everyone's <i>really</i> hoping makes it happen. I want you to be like the guy in the rated R movie, you know, the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from. <p><i>That's</i> Han Solo the rogue ... the guy who (yes!) shoots first. <p>Vaughan could pull it off, but Jackman's got the action-hero chops already fine-tuned. A little more sarcasm and swashbuckle added to Wolverine and boom! That's Han. <p>Fassbender is just too dynamic a screen presence to ignore, however. He's so far played mostly serious or menacing roles, but is there any doubt he's sitting on a virtual well of heroic charm? He's likely the next big crossover action hero/heartthrob, just as soon as he decides he wants to be.
Leia may be remembered for her Cinnabon hairdo in Episode IV (and the slave bikini in VI for the XY crowd), but what makes her such a memorable movie heroine was in large part Carrie Fisher's spunk. Sure, she may have needed rescuing from the Death Star, but she stood toe-to-toe with both Darth Vader and Tarkin, apparently didn't crack during a interrogation process that involved a droid armed with a hypodermic needle, and could fire a blaster with the best of them and trade barbs with Han, often at the same time. <p>With all due respect to Ellen Page (<i>Juno</i> was six years ago), Emma Stone currently has the market cornered on spunk and verbal wit among the young Hollywood starlet crowd.
Both the easiest and the hardest shoes to fill, Luke was really one of the least distinctive characters in the original trilogy. Mostly what's required is someone who can play youthful and pining in the first half of Episode IV and then transition to credible action hero from then on. <p>A lesser-known face would probably help the re-suspension of disbelief for fans as well. <p>Yelchin, having already worked with Abrams in <i>Star Trek</i> is an already veteran actor, but has yet to play a truly iconic role and at 23 still has can effect a youthful enough appearance to pull Luke off. <p>Hoult (also 23) has less credits to his name, is a rising star and will presumably be hidden under Beast make-up in the next <i>X-Men</i>, but he headlines March's Bryan Singer-directed <i>Jack the Giant Slayer</i> so getting to him before he truly breaks out may be wishful thinking.