MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Directors George Lucas and Brian De Palma swapped lead actresses for “Carrie” and “Star Wars.”
The original “Star Wars” had one of the most legendary casting processes in film history. In a previous Movie Legend, we examined how Harrison Ford was selected to play Han Solo despite not actually being up for the role. However, perhaps even more interesting is how casting was managed.
Before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg became superstar filmmakers, they were part of a close-knit group of young directors that included John Milius, Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma, plus Francis Ford Coppola, to a certain degree. They helped one another with films, and even placed bets on how well their projects would do (always in a "your film is going to do better than mine” way; the most famous example is Spielberg ending up with a cut of “Star Wars” profits based on a wager he made with Lucas). That sense of cooperation led to a fascinating joint casting call for Lucas' “Star Wars” and De Palma's “Carrie." That led to the 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 “Premiere Magazine,” telling Tom Russo, "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 doesn’t appear as though Lucas ever even considered Spacek for the role of Leia. 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 the 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):
A few years before becoming the “Greatest American Hero,” William Katt was the male lead in “Carrie,” and auditioned to play 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...?"
The legend is...
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