Little-known sci-fi fact: Toshiro Mifune turned down Vader role

Darth Vader is the quintessential sci-fi villain now. His voice, his clothes, that helmet ... everything about him is iconic. But apparently George Lucas had an entirely different actor (and concept) in mind that would have made Star Wars remarkably different.

It's a well-known fact that Lucas was heavily influenced by filmmaker Akira Kurosawa when crafting his space opera. Slightly less known was that Lucas was interested in casting one of Kurosawa's favorite actors, Toshiro Mifune, in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

But what we didn't know is that Mifune wasn't only up for the role of Kenobi. In fact, according to Mifune's daughter, Mika Mifune, Lucas was so desperate to have Toshiro on board that he offered him the role of Darth Vader. In fact, the Vader helmet was supposedly designed with Toshiro in mind, save for one important detail—there would have been no mask.

While Tohiro Mifune ultimately declined because he thought the film was for kids, we're still left with so many questions. How else would the film have changed if he'd said yes? Could Mark Hamill have been cast with his blond locks as the part of Luke Skywalker? And if he was, would we have lost the incredible twist of Vader being Skywalker's father?

We'd love to see the alternate universe where that film got made, but we probably wouldn't want to live there. How about you?

(via Kotaku)

And check out these other little-known sci-fi facts:

Lucas originally wanted FOUR trilogies

Why Soylent Green was called Soylent Green

R2-D2 appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Gandalf wasn't going to be named Gandalf

A computer glitch almost killed Toy Story 2

The incredibly filthy joke hidden in Willy Wonka

Kirk wasn't Wrath of Khan's only father

The accident that gave us the lightsaber

Scully stood on a box to film X-Files

Kirk's Trek hot rod was Catwoman's, too

James Cameron played the Alien Queen

Why HAL 9000 sang 'Daisy' in 2001

What inspired Alien chestburster scene

3 ways George Lucas' wife saved Star Wars

The brawl that got Mel Gibson the Mad Max gig

James Doohan was shot six times on D-Day

Tolkien killed a Beatles LOTR movie

How Ghostbusters pissed off Isaac Asimov

The lyrics to Star Trek's opening theme

The famous "Wilhelm scream"

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