In the “Star Wars” universe, like any franchise, there are close-call casting decisions that don’t make the grade or simply go another way. Actress Jessica Henwick (“The Matrix Resurrections”), for example, lost out to Daisy Ridley for the Rey role in “The Force Awakens” but did play a small pilot in the film instead. There was also the original casting process for the first film that saw young actors reading for both Brian De Palma’s “Carrie” and “A New Hope” at the same time, so there might be a version of “Star Wars” in another universe with Nancy Allen and John Travolta in the lead roles.
During a conversation promoting his most recent Apple TV+ series, “Slow Horses,” British actor Gary Oldman revealed in a Happy Sad Confused podcast chat that he had been initially meant to appear in the “Star Wars” prequels. What role? None other than the CGI villain General Grievous, who first made his live-action debut in “Star Wars: Revenge of The Sith.”
“Well, I did a voice for ‘Star Wars’…was it General Grievous?” Oldman said, unable to fully recall the name of the character at first. Oldman explained that ultimately, some of the Australian rules of union filmmaking, where the film was shot, prevented Lucas from using his voice. “What happened was something to do with union stuff and non-union stuff,” he said. “I was not going to be the poster boy for [breaking union rules].”
But to hear it from Oldman, he recorded his lines and spent time with George Lucas. “[Lucas] directed me the whole thing; yeah, he was terrific,” he said. “No regrets about that but the other stuff is rumors,” the actor said, dismissing his purported involvement in the more recent sequel trilogy.
Matthew Wood, who recently played Bib Fortuna in “The Book of Boba Fett,” ended up voicing Grievous in both live-action and animation incarnations. Oldman would pursue other franchise roles around the same time joining Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy as Jim Gordon and playing Sirius Black in the “Harry Potter” movies, kicking off with Alfonso Cuarón’s “The Prisoner of Azkaban.”
Could we see the veteran actor return to “Star Wars” in the future? Only time will tell. In the meantime, check out the career-spanning conversation below.