A lot of people are excited for Disney’s new take on “Star Wars” come 2015.Since the news of The Walt Disney Company’s $4 billion acquisition of Lucasfilm, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamill, and J.J. Abrams have all expressed interest in seeing where the franchise will go.
If Alec Guinness, the actor who played Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi, were alive today, he most likely wouldn’t share the same sentiments.
After all, he wasn’t even excited about the original series.
Going through actor Guiness’ biography – the book isn’t anything new, it’s from 2003 – he laid out the details of George Lucas offering him the now-iconic role of Kenobi and his feelings on the part.
He didn’t seem too taken with the sci-fi flick. A few days after he was offered the role of Ben Kenobi in 1975, he wrote to long-time friend Anne Kaufman, referring to it as “fairy-tale rubbish” and to George Lucas by the wrong first name.
From Alec Guinness: The Authorised Biography (page 504):
“I have been offered a movie (20th Cent. Fox) which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and N. Africa, starting in mid-March. Science fiction – which gives me pause – but is to be directed by Paul [sic] Lucas who did “American Graffiti, which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps.”
Guinness goes on to recall Twentieth Century Fox offered him $150,000 plus two per cent of the producer’s profit in January 1976 for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi – double what they offered him the week before.
After he began filming in March of ’76, he wrote to Kaufman again to share he wasn’t “enjoying the film.”
” … new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper – and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April … I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet – and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (? – No!) – well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel 90 – and treat me as if I was 106. – Oh, Harrison Ford – ever heard of him?”
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