What if Leonardo DiCaprio had played Anakin in the prequels?

Leonardo DiCaprio turned down George Lucas’s offer to play The Chosen One in Attack of the Clones. How would the prequels have turned out if he’d opted in?

Leonardo DiCaprio might be the most accomplished actor of his generation. With five Oscar nominations and one win to his name, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more esteemed (or bankable) star of his caliber.

And yet, his stardom could’ve skyrocketed even more if he’d taken George Lucas up on the chance to play Anakin Skywalker. Alas, Leo turned Lucas down, the role went to Hayden Christensen and the rest is history.

Christensen took some heat for his portrayal of Anakin in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Some blamed the poor writing; others were quick to point the finger at Christensen’s acting. Either way, it’s pretty safe to assume that DiCaprio would’ve been better suited for the role of The Chosen One.

So, how different would the prequels have been if Leo had stepped into the role of Obi-Wan’s apprentice? Think about it this way: DiCaprio was still basking in the massive success of Titanic, not to mention an acclaimed performance as the title character in The Man in the Iron Mask. If Leo had taken the Star Wars role, chances are he wouldn’t have been able to juggle both Catch Me If You Can and Gangs of New York (both released in 2002, the same year as Attack of the Clones), so he probably would’ve dropped one of the two.

With DiCaprio as Anakin, Lucas would have added a young but established actor to go alongside other stars such as Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan), Natalie Portman (Padme), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) and Christopher Lee (Count Dooku). We can assume that Leo would’ve fit in seamlessly with the rest of the cast; he also would’ve brought some more emotional and believable qualities to the young Skywalker, characteristics that Christensen was lacking.

As for the trilogy as a whole, I’m really not sure that the quality of the films (Attack of the Clones in particular) would’ve changed that much. An actor can only do so much, even if he’s as talented and revered as DiCaprio. Say what you will about Christensen, but he honestly did the best he could with that sub-par (putting it nicely) script.

However, I do think DiCaprio would’ve improved fans’ impressions and opinions of Anakin. Christensen’s performance made Anakin come off as a whiny teen who just got his credit card taken away, while Leo was more likely to make him seem like a tragic, sympathetic figure.

Unfortunately for all of us, we didn’t get to see DiCaprio’s take on the man who’d become Darth Vader. Still, I can’t help but wonder.

Would DiCaprio have made the prequels all that different? Would you have enjoyed Anakin more with him in the role? Let us know in the comments.