star wars

Seven Samurai Legend Toshiro Mifune Turned Down Roles of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader

Toshiro Mifune, one of the great Japanese actors of the 20th century, is best remembered by western audiences for his roles in Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, and Yojimbo. With the ability to go from brooding to manic like [SNAP!] that, the actor carved out a legacy in the annals of world cinema. But Mifune’s endearing legacy was almost very, very different. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mifune’s daughter Mika says Mifune was offered a vital role in George Lucas’s Star Wars:

“I heard from my father that he was offered the role of Obi Wan Kenobi, but he was concerned about how the film would look and that it would cheapen the image of samurai, on which George Lucas had based a lot of the character and fighting style. … At the time, sci-fi movies still looked quite cheap as the effects were not advanced and he had a lot of samurai pride. So then, there was talk about him taking the Darth Vader role as his face would be covered, but in the end he turned that down too.”

An Obi-Wan played by Mifune instead of the begrudging Alec Guinness would have been fascinating, and the lightsaber fights would probably have turned out very differently, since Mifune actually knew how to sword fight. That Star Wars movie turned out to be a big hit, to Mifune’s surprise. Blasted samurai …

Toshiro Mifune Turned Down Obi-Wan, Darth Vader