Luke Skywalker Almost Became Mozart in Miloš Forman’s Amadeus
One of the first major Hollywood productions to shoot in Prague, Czech director Miloš Forman’s Oscar-winning Amadeus is still one of the most successful, frequently cited by the local Film Commission and Tourism Board as a highlight of foreign filming in the Czech capital.
Forman cast then-little-known actors Tom Hulce as Mozart and F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, but did you know that we could have gotten a much different cast?
After being presented at London’s Royal National Theatre in 1979, Peter Shaffer’s acclaimed play had its Broadway premiere in late 1980 with Ian McKellan as Salieri and Tim Curry as Mozart.
The hugely popular Broadway show ran for more than 1,000 performances over the next three years, and the roles changed hands numerous times. Towards the end of the run, Star Wars’ Mark Hamill replaced Curry as Mozart opposite John Wood as Salieri.
It was at this time that plans for a film version were underway under the visage of Czech director Forman. And while Dustin Hoffman campaigned for the role of Salieri, Hamill vied to play Mozart in the movie.
Hamill even met with Forman before the role was cast, when the Czech director asked him to read with actresses who were auditioning for Mozart’s wife, a role eventually played by Elizabeth Berridge.
“So I read with actress after actress after actress,” Hamill said in a recent interview with the Irish Times.
“And after several hours I said: 'Miloš, you know I’ve played Mozart?' And he laughs.”
It was not meant to be: Forman had always intended to cast lesser-known actors in the lead roles, and nipped Hamill’s ambitions in the bud.
“No, no, no, no, you must not to be playing the Mozart because the people not believing that the Luke Spacewalker was the Mozart,” Hamill said in a 1985 Night Flight interview, mimicking the Czech director (skip to 1:15 in the first video on the linked page to hear Hamill’s nifty Forman impression).
Hamill, at least, was gracious that Forman was upfront with him about his decision.
Being cast in the iconic Star Wars role cast a shadow over his subsequent career, but Hamill will return to the screen next week in The Last Jedi, which hits Prague cinemas on Thursday, December 14.