Mark Hamill’s Star Wars Screen Test (Featuring Harrison Ford)

Watch­ing now-famous actors audi­tion for now-clas­sic films, you can’t help but feel a lit­tle thrill of false pre­science, know­ing how the sto­ry turned out — the sto­ry the film tells, cer­tain­ly, but also the sto­ry of the film itself, and those of the actors’ sub­se­quent careers. Today, hun­dreds of clips of screen test footage, none ever meant for pub­lic view­ing, have found their way onto the inter­net. We’ve fea­tured Mar­lon Bran­do’s for Rebel With­out a Cause, John Belushi’s for Sat­ur­day Night Live, and Audrey Hep­burn’s for Roman Hol­i­day, among oth­ers, here on Open Cul­ture. (And don’t for­get Andy Warhol’s dis­tinc­tive spin on the process.) Few films have become as beloved as the first chap­ter of Star Wars, and few actors have become as famous as Har­ri­son Ford, the man who played Han Solo. Above you see not Ford’s screen test, but Ford assist­ing in that of Mark Hamill, the future Luke Sky­walk­er, and per­haps the man most famous specif­i­cal­ly for act­ing in Star Wars.

“It checks out again,” reads Ford. “There’s no mis­take.” “You can’t find Organa Major?” reads Hamill. “I found it,” reads Ford. “It just ain’t there.” Star Wars enthu­si­asts, a group of some vig­i­lance, will imme­di­ate­ly notice that these stars-to-be read dif­fer­ent lines than they deliv­er in the fin­ished film. A bit of research on Wook­ieepe­dia tells me that Organa Major, known in most ear­ly drafts of Star Wars’ script as Ogana Major, would, in lat­er revi­sions, take the name Alder­aan and become — in Wook­ieepe­di­a’s words — “the home of many famous heroes, includ­ing Leia Organa Solo, Bail Organa, and Ulic Qel-Dro­ma.” Issues of nomen­cla­ture aside, to watch Hamil­l’s screen test is to behold the hum­ble ori­gins of a film that would rise to unbe­liev­able heights of cul­tur­al rel­e­vance, claim­ing a prime spot in the mythol­o­gy of the late twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry West. Yet its gen­er­a­tion-cap­ti­vat­ing per­for­mances begin with a cou­ple guys trad­ing lines on mud­dy gray Sony Por­ta­Pak video.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Kurt Rus­sell Audi­tions for Star Wars

Star Wars as Silent Film

Star Wars Uncut: The Epic Fan Film

Star Wars is a Remix

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.