How Star Wars Might Have Had A Different Darth Vader

The Japanese influence in Star Wars is no accident. George Lucas's hero is acclaimed filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and he was inspired by the Japanese director's films, such as The Hidden Fortress.

According to a famous bit of Star Wars trivia, Lucas even wanted actor Toshiro Mifune, who starred in many Kurosawa films, to act in Star Wars. The trivia, which has been repeated for years now, says that Lucas tried to get Mifune to play Obi-Wan Kenobi — something that Lucas confirmed. The choice makes sense. But what if Lucas wanted Mifune to play another character?

This weekend on world history quiz show Sekai Fushigi Hakken! (世界ふしぎ発見!), Toshiro Mifune's daughter, Mika Mifune, recounted how her famous father was first asked to play Obi-Wan Kenobi — an offer he turned down.

Then, Mika continued, Mifune was offered the role of Darth Vader. The villain's helmet was apparently designed with Mifune in mind, and if Mifune had taken the role, his face supposedly would have been visible. The inference is that Lucas really wanted the famed Japanese actor in his movie. But Mifune thought the sci-fi flick was going to be a kid's movie, hence him passing on the project.

Mifune as Obi-Wan Kenobi is a little easier to wrap one's head around. At that time, he was an international superstar and a hero of Lucas'. Vader has become inseparable from the suit and the voice of James Earl Jones, making it harder to see the character any other way.

Mifune daughter wasn't born until 1982, so her account isn't exactly first person — and it's something I don't ever recall hearing. If this bit of trivia is true and if Mifune had played Darth Vader, the character could have certainly developed differently during Lucas' writing process. For example, the Sith Lord might have had a badass beard.

For more on the development of Darth Vader, check out The Secret History of Star Wars.

ダースベーダーが三船敏郎だったら・・・ [起業への道を探るブログ]


    hmmm more of a Japanese influence... i might have enjoyed star wars if darth vader was a baddass future samurai.

    Last edited 15/01/13 8:17 am

      But he was...? All black futuristic armour based on samurai battle gear, sword made of a laser, assassin for evil empire, ring any bells?

        yeah, but he didnt have the same feel, he felt too.... white... i know thats a generalization, and probably doesn't make sense since the voice was done by James Earl jones... but he just felt wrong.

          It is definitely a 'western' interpretation of Kurosawa's style. Lucas took A LOT from Kurosawa in terms of story telling, editing, characters. Watching Hidden Fortress is strange, it's almost too obvious that Lucas ripped so much of it.

            He 'stole' from everything not just from Kurosawa
            Kurosawa films - Hidden Fortress R2D2/C3PO and Seven Samurai
            Westerns mainly The Searchers
            Cloud City is from 1930's Flash Gordon serials.
            Metropolis - C3PO look

    Hard to imagine him passing for Mark Hammil's dad... I'm just not seeing the resemblance :P

      They probably would have developed the character a little differently during the writing process...

      I was about to make the same comment, but it really depends on who the mother was.
      Could have made a huge difference to the prequels...

      Maybe Luke would have been played by someone else in this case.

        Jackie Chan

          I'd pay to see that. The lightsaber duels in official SW movies are terrible, and action is almost all I care about in movies (or, rather, good action can save a bad movie for me and bad/average action will ruin an otherwise good movie).

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