30. Ben Kenobi – (Toshiro Mifune)
When George Lucas began writing the first Star Wars film, he was heavily influenced by the stories and characters of Japanese samurai movies of the time made popular by Akira Kurosawa. Because of this, Lucas had it in his mind that he wanted the mentor role of Ben Kenobi to go to the legendary Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune.
At an event in 2015, the late actor’s daughter Mika Mifune revealed that her late father had been approached for a role in 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,” said Mifune.
It seems that Lucas was intent on having Mifune appear in his film, going so far as to offer the role of Darth Vader to him, but it wasn’t meant to be. Mifune turned down both role offers and never appeared in a Star Wars film. Despite this, Kurosawa’s influence remains throughout the Star Wars franchise.
George Lucas went on to cast the late Alec Guinness in the role and the rest is history.