Whenever a new Star Wars movie is announced, the Internet shivers. Given Lucasfilm’s preference to hire relative newcomers for the main roles and the gigantic entertainment machine that they run, playing a Star Wars characters is a guarantee of instant-fame, success, wealth and creative opportunities. So, with so many actors dying to be in one of the franchise’s movies, why do so many of them want to kill their characters and leave the galaxy forever?
This was the case for several stars of the Original Trilogy. Alec Guinness, who played Obi-wan Kenobi in A New Hope, was very happy to be killed before the end of the film. He had never really wanted to be in a film about space wizards, he didn’t connect with the much younger cast and crew, he simultaneously disliked the dialogue, which he considered “fairytale rubbish” and hated that George Lucas was constantly rewriting it and he didn’t take too kindly to the Tunisian desert
Even Harrison Ford wanted to kill Han Solo since The Return of the Jedi in 1983. In a 2010 interview, he mentioned that there wasn’t much to Han, and he had never been very interesting to him. However, Lucas refused to kill him in the Original Trilogy. In Ford’s opinion, this was because the director “didn’t see any future in dead Han toys.” In 2016, he added that Han’s death in The Force Awakens was a way to provide a purposeless character with a noble end. “I figured that his utility had been exhausted, bled out, and, well, I was willing to die for the cause,” Ford explained. “Bring some gravitas, some base.”
Another actor from the old guard that also pitched his own death was none other than Anthony Daniels. Daniels was convinced that C-3PO should die in The Rise of Skywalker. “Before this film, it seemed like the writers had slightly run out of steam with C-3PO. I didn’t want him to just become a wall decoration. I thought he should have a big send-off or send-off that gave you finality, and of course, at the time, J.J. said, ‘No way.’”
The main actors from the prequels are a mixed bag. On the one hand, Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman never returned to Star Wars after Revenge of the Sith. While they sometimes mention their colleagues on social media, neither of them has mentioned the possibility of going back to the franchise. On the other, many actors, including Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton and Temuera Robinson from the prequel era are slated to appear on Disney+.
The youngest generation has been much more vocal about their reasons not to go back. Adam Driver would like his fans to forget that he ever played Kylo Ren so that he can focus on other creative projects. John Boyega categorically refused the idea of participating in a Disney + series, and added that Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac would have to be part of any Star Wars project for him to seriously consider it. In the case of Ridley and Issac, they thought of The Rise of Skywalker as the closing chapter of this part of their acting career, because the story, as far as they were concerned, was done.
One reason actors may be less inclined to return to a galaxy far, far away is because of the intense attention bestowed on them. Detractors of the sequels managed to hound both Daisy Ridley and Kelly-Marie Tran, the actress that played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, from social media. This kind of stress might have played a part in their decision, but the intensity and exclusivity linked to promoting a Disney-Lucasfilm production might have also played a part. When an actor signs a contract to appear on a film, to include one clause that determines how many days or hours the actor will dedicate to promoting the film, as well as a second rider demanding the actor’s exclusivity for a certain period of time. This ensures that during production and promotion the actor can only work in that specific movie.
In any case, wanting to disappear from the galaxy usually doesn’t work in the Star Wars universe — just look at Yoda, or Obi-wan, or Luke Skywalker. Dead Jedi come back as Force Ghosts, Sith Lords get their groove and clone vats back for a final act and even Han Solo gets to be a redemptive vision in The Rise of Skywalker. Even the actors that have passed away in the real world were brought back to the big screen through the magic of technology. So chances are that, even if the production and press tours are exhausting, fans behave like trolls, the characters seem flat and Disney cracks the whip to impose a Mickey Mouse Club code of conduct on their stars, they’ll be back.
Alec Guinness, Harrison Ford, Anthony Daniels and Daisy Ridley are all actors who wanted to get out of Star Wars. But what were their reasons?