By the time George Lucas was ready to tackle the Star Wars prequel trilogy, the franchise was a household name and had a much bigger budget to work with than the original films did. With that meant more room to bring on big-name celebrities, and casting the likes of Anakin Skywalker, a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Padmé Amidala must have come with a ton of pressure.
Just as A-listers in the making were nearly cast in the original trilogy, plenty of familiar faces almost joined a galaxy far, far away with The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. But when it was time to cast an adult Anakin, newcomer Hayden Christensen was reportedly a no-brainer. According to StarWars.com, casting director Robin Gurland is quoted as saying she looked at around 1,500 candidates for the part, but ultimately Christensen stood out among all the rest.
"“When Hayden came for his first meeting, I opened the door, and I just suddenly became flushed, because I knew. I sat him down and looked at him through the camera, and all of a sudden, I could feel goosebumps. I couldn’t get too excited, because it’s just the initial meeting, but by the end of it, I just knew that Anakin had walked in the door. I literally picked up the phone and called George and said, ‘Anakin just walked in.’ But I had to continue on, because casting is kind of a never-ending process.”"
But what about all the other actors vying for the role? Who got close to scoring the role of Anakin Skywalker? Well, a handful of major stars. Let’s get into them.
Leonardo DiCaprio turned down Star Wars
Interestingly enough, Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio actually turned down the chance of portraying Anakin Skywalker. As he explained to Short List in 2015, the actor had a meeting with George Lucas about the role before deciding it wasn’t for him. When asked why, DiCaprio kept it vague by stating, “[I] just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”
It doesn’t look like DiCaprio has said anything else about this near-stint on Star Wars, nor whether or not he’d be open to joining the franchise at some point in the future. Based on all of his success since the prequel trilogy debuted, we don’t think he’ll be pressed for work anytime soon.