HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 06: Jodie Foster speaks onstage during the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for WarnerMedia) 610265
Jodie Foster, Cindy Williams and Sissy Spacek
Jodie Foster established herself as an acting master at the ripe old age of 14.
Her performance as a teen prostitute in Taxi Driver in 1976 garnered an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress (Beatrice Straight won for Network) and attention from the Star Wars casting team, who thought Foster might be the perfect fit as Princess Leia, the role Carrie Fisher would make her own.
Another possibility for Leia was Cindy Williams, who like Harrison Ford, had appeared in American Graffiti (Williams played Laurie Henderson, the on-and-off love interest of Ron Howard’s character Steve).
Williams read for the part, but she also had a TV show set to debut in 1976, Laverne & Shirley, starring alongside Penny Marshall. That show ended up running until 1982, right around the time filming was wrapping up on Return of the Jedi.
Sissy Spacek also auditioned for the role. George Lucas and his friend, Brian De Palma, held joint auditions for Star Wars and a horror movie of De Palma’s, Carrie, adapted from a Stephen King novel, because both movies were looking for actors of a similar age range.
While Spacek missed out on Star Wars, she ended up starring in Carrie, turning in a career-turning performance.