WI: Toshiro Mifune accepted the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi?

Yes, Toshiro Mifune was offered the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. According to his daughter, he regretted not taking it - but what if he had?

How does this effect the history of not only Star Wars but also representation in Hollywood? Now one of the big name heroes, one of the most iconic characters in the big screen, is played by a legendary Japanese actor. I’d love to see what kind of energy he brings to the character. Would he be as wide and sagely as Alec Guinness was? Or more energetic?

This is one of those things that’s fascinating to think about.
 
I imagine it would change the dynamic of the film. Guinness played obi wan as a wizard hermit, a Merlin to Luke's Arthur. The role in this alt version would need to be handled well and not become a western pastiche of a sage samurai archetype. It may have shifted the film into a more niche position in the minds of the cinema going public of the era, and more of a 'genre' piece than a broad commercial success, as the audience might not be as open to a samurai film in space at that time; Guinness' involvement made, iiuc, the film more 'respectable' rather than a b movie space saga, and with attitudes at the time that may not have been the case if Mifune had the role, sadly. The 1970s is not the 2020s.

It's odd how many people don't see it as a samurai film already, not just because of the basically copy paste structure of the hidden fortress, but the fact Darth Vader explicitly wears essentially samurai armour with a gas mask. Originally, I believe, he had the mask because his first appearance was meant to involve jumping across space to board a ship, and if you take off that mask its very very clearly samurai gear with some buttons glued on.

That said, if it were done, it would mean a tremendous performance of course. A calm, deep obi wan with the capacity for sudden, brutal violence when needed. A measured, balletic physicality, compared to Guinness' world weary, melancholic spiritual take. There would probably have been a much stronger focus on the fight between Vader and obi wan, which might have been longer and more physical.
 
I imagine it would change the dynamic of the film. Guinness played obi wan as a wizard hermit, a Merlin to Luke's Arthur. The role in this alt version would need to be handled well and not become a western pastiche of a sage samurai archetype. It may have shifted the film into a more niche position in the minds of the cinema going public of the era, and more of a 'genre' piece than a broad commercial success, as the audience might not be as open to a samurai film in space at that time; Guinness' involvement made, iiuc, the film more 'respectable' rather than a b movie space saga, and with attitudes at the time that may not have been the case if Mifune had the role, sadly. The 1970s is not the 2020s.

It's odd how many people don't see it as a samurai film already, not just because of the basically copy paste structure of the hidden fortress, but the fact Darth Vader explicitly wears essentially samurai armour with a gas mask. Originally, I believe, he had the mask because his first appearance was meant to involve jumping across space to board a ship, and if you take off that mask its very very clearly samurai gear with some buttons glued on.

That said, if it were done, it would mean a tremendous performance of course. A calm, deep obi wan with the capacity for sudden, brutal violence when needed. A measured, balletic physicality, compared to Guinness' world weary, melancholic spiritual take. There would probably have been a much stronger focus on the fight between Vader and obi wan, which might have been longer and more physical.
Alec Guinness portrayed Obi Wan in a rather sage fashion. If anyone was like Merlin, it's Yoda.
 
iirc Lucas has said Han would probably be black if Toshiro got the role.

Biggest difference tho? That lightsaber duel on the Death Star. Oh baby......
 
iirc Lucas has said Han would probably be black if Toshiro got the role.

Biggest difference tho? That lightsaber duel on the Death Star. Oh baby......

Black Han Solo? Just wondering would The Return of the Jedi dare show any passionate relationship between black Han Solo and white Leia yet in 1980's.
 
He would have played Obi-Wan more in line with Sanjuro Tsubaki, I reckon.
Nah. Sanjuro’s very different from Obi-Wan. He’d probably play him as a wise, sagely, but still more badass character.

What interests me as the subtleties of the This imagined performance. Alec Guinness did plenty with Obi-Wan, giving life and experience to the character in ways no one else could. What would Mifune bring?
 
had Toshiro Mifune take the role of Obi Wan Kenobi
it would alter Star Wars deeply

The lightsaber duel would be completely different.
David Prowse and Alex Guinness oriented on classical sword fight between medieval Knights.
Toshiro Mifune was trained Japanese sword fighter, this give a complete different dynamic to Duel as in original

to Compair original
vs Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo (A Fistful of Dollars)

Also would Toshiro Mifune presents, alter the face of Jedi Order and Sith
it would give them Japanese touch, special Darth Vader would now obvious be a Samurai with Gasmask on Life-support
(just like character Graal in Italian Star Wars Nock-off The Humanoid from 1979)

Also making the Jedi order and it evil counter part more like two Chinese Shaolin orders fighting each other.
other Asia cultural influence the Yin and Yang = Jedi and Sith would be present in this version of Star Wars
 
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You answered this yourself in 1980, not 1930

Even in 21st century inter-racial relations are almost taboo on Hollywood. I just can imaginate that being bit bigger in 1980 even if not as big as it was in 1930 when it would had been big no. Of course if Lucas decides go same way as in OTL... That would make intresting things.
 
Even in 21st century inter-racial relations are almost taboo on Hollywood. I just can imaginate that being bit bigger in 1980 even if not as big as it was in 1930 when it would had been big no. Of course if Lucas decides go same way as in OTL... That would make intresting things.
I really doubt it would be taboo

It is no longer the time when blacks take seats reserved for them
 
We’d still have pushback. Significant amounts of it.
Agreed. Inter racial relationships were looked down upon up until at least the 90s in many places sadly.

Remember, Lucas says it was meant to be about 600 different things depending on who's asking. His original version had vader as unrelated to luke, han dying, and Leia not as Luke's sister but his love interest. Black han would probably have fitted the trope of heroic black sacrifice to save the white protagonist; crashing into a turret on the death star or taking on a whole squadron of tie fighters. Then luke would get the girl. Have you seen the initial costume designs too? It was basically space ABBA.
 
Agreed. Inter racial relationships were looked down upon up until at least the 90s in many places sadly.

Remember, Lucas says it was meant to be about 600 different things depending on who's asking. His original version had vader as unrelated to luke, han dying, and Leia not as Luke's sister but his love interest. Black han would probably have fitted the trope of heroic black sacrifice to save the white protagonist; crashing into a turret on the death star or taking on a whole squadron of tie fighters. Then luke would get the girl. Have you seen the initial costume designs too? It was basically space ABBA.
Just because Mifune gets casted doesn’t mean those stay.

And the first two got changed over the course of the series.
 
What if Mifune ended up hating the role even worse that Sir Alec Guinness so he doesn't even comeback as a force ghost?
 
Just because Mifune gets casted doesn’t mean those stay.

And the first two got changed over the course of the series.
Just based on:
The earlier assertion that Migune as Obi Wan means a black Han
In the late 70s, it would be difficult to have a mixed race relationship in a major film
Therefore, Leia stays as Luke's love interest because theres no chance of it being Han
Han therefore becomes disposable and the original plan to kill him off is less likely to be nixed
A Japanese obi wan makes it more possible that a Japanese vader gets cast
Vader therefore isnt Luke's father


In other changes, the jedi are now less like templars or knights or, indeed, wizards, but very explicitly samurai. Thus theres less focus on the magic side of the force, with its force chokes, force push/pull, force ghosts, etc, more on meditation, stillness, duty and a capacity for ruthless, lightning fast and intense violence. With a performer like Mifune, they would want to maximize the potential to showcase his perfectly choreographed fighting style, so obi wan is less the wise wizard, more the silent warrior.
 
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