How Disney kept Jodie Foster from playing Princess Leia

Jodie Foster finally confirmed that if not for Disney, she'd have played Princess Leia in Star Wars! Find out more!
Jodie Foster, star of HBO's \"True Detective: Night Country\" photographed at the London Hotel.
Jodie Foster, star of HBO's \"True Detective: Night Country\" photographed at the London Hotel. / Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY / USA TODAY

It’s been rumored for years, but at long last, Jodie Foster confirmed how, if not for a Disney contract, she’d have played one of the most iconic figures in Star Wars history. 

Fans of Star Wars know of the stories of the almost castings for the 1977 classic. Famously, George Lucas had hoped for Japanese movie legend Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan, and a younger Kurt Russell was a big choice for Han Solo. 

For Princess Leia, the list of actresses who auditioned is a who’s who of future stars: Stockard Channing, Geena Davis, Sigourney Weaver, and even Meryl Streep. Notably, all of them were in their 20s when they tried out for the role. 

It, of course, went to Carrie Fisher, who made Leia an icon, playing the role in the sequels and her final turn (using older footage) in Rise of Skywalker. Indeed, Fisher’s untimely death in 2016 ended up throwing off a few story plans for the last Star Wars film. 

Among the names rumored for years to audition was Jodie Foster, which would have been interesting as she was only 14 years old in 1976. For a long while, it was considered just a rumor, but now it’s true. 

Jodie Foster on her Leia chances

Jodie Foster is one of the best cases ever of a child star turned into an accomplished adult star. While she took a break to attend Yale, she came back big time with 1988’s The Accused, which won her the Best Actress Oscar. Three years later, she won a second for The Silence of the Lambs.

Since then, Foster has become a force on both sides of the camera, not just acting in films but also as a top director and producer. 

Appearing on The Tonight Show to promote the new season of the HBO crime show True Detective, Foster was asked by Jimmy Fallon about the rumors of the Leia audition and finally confirmed it. 

"I was, yeah. They were going for a younger Princess Leia, but I had a conflict. I was doing a Disney movie, and I just didn’t want to pull out of the Disney movie because I was already under contract."

Foster didn’t specify which film, but given the timing, it was either Freaky Friday (which premiered in 1976) or the 1977 comedy Candleshoe. It’s more interesting as this was about the time Foster had her breakout turn in Taxi Driver, which earned her her first Oscar nomination. 

Having Leia be so young would have changed a lot about the character, especially her romance with Han Solo. It’s likely why, even with the Disney contract, Foster may have been passed over for an older actress. 

Foster herself has no hard feelings, praising Fisher’s performance as far better. “I don’t know how good I would have been. I might have had different hair. I might have gone with a pineapple.”

So if not for a Disney contract, Foster might have become part of the Star Wars universe, making for one of the most intriguing “could have been” castings in Hollywood history. 

Star Wars Episodes 1-9 streaming on Disney+.