Why Jodie Foster Turned Down the Role of Princess Leia in 'Star Wars'

The Oscar winner opened up about roles she's turned down, including the iconic role of Princess Leia.

Jodie Foster was almost the leader of the resistance! During an appearance on Wednesday's episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the actress and filmmaker, 61, opened up about roles she's turned down, including the iconic role of Star Wars' Princess Leia.

"You've [played] so many iconic roles, we love what you do. But I saw this on the internet, you were offered the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Is that true?" Fallon asked Foster.

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

While Foster didn't name the Disney movie that kept her from taking on the role, the timeline suggests it might've been Freaky Friday, which was released a year before Star Wars. The star said she was disappointed she couldn't take the role, but she acknowledged that Carrie Fisher, who went on to play the beloved resistance leader in the original Star Wars trilogy, did an "amazing job."

"I don't know how good I would have been. I might have had different hair, you know. I might have gone with a pineapple," the actress jokingly added, referring to the legendary brunette's Star Wars buns.

Princess Leia first appeared in the Star Wars franchise in 1977 and has since become one of the most iconic characters in the franchise. She was dubbed the 89th greatest film character of all time by Empire in 2008, and IGN listed her as their 8th top Star Wars hero.

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Fisher, who died on Dec. 26, 2016, at 60, played Princess Leia in five Star Wars films total: Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. Because she had died before filming began on The Rise of Skywalker, unreleased footage from The Last Jedi was used to include Leia in the film.

"We couldn't figure out how to tell the end of the Skywalker Saga without Leia and, you know, saying that she had passed away, saying that she was somewhere else…there was no way," director J.J. Abrams told ET at 2019's D23. "And we realized we could never recast it and we didn't want to do a CG character, so we actually realized there was footage we could use, that we could literally write scenes around and suddenly have as an active part of this movie and she's great in the film. And still, maybe now more than ever, it's impossible to me that she's gone because she's so alive in the film."

The late actress received multiple accolades for her portrayal of the space princess and war general, including two Saturn Award nominations for Best Actress for A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, two Saturn Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for The Force Awakens and a posthumous nomination for The Last Jedi.

Last May, Fisher posthumously received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which her daughter, Billie Lourd, tearfully accepted on behalf of her mother at a ceremony attended by stormtroopers, R2-D2, and C-3PO, and scores of Star Wars fans dressed to celebrate and honor the late actress.

Lourd shared how she appreciates that fans' love for Princess Leia will continue to live on after her mother's death and "get passed on from generation to generation, just like my mom passed it on to me and I am now passing it on to my children and hopefully they will pass it on to theirs."

She also highlighted her mother's writing career, which produced seven books, her scripts and her "legendary tweets."

"I wish there was a little book icon for these Hollywood Walk of Fame stars that I could put next to her film one," she said. "Her books and candor about her mental illness and drug abuse have inspired people all over the world to speak more openly about their struggles. It's one of the things about her I'm most proud of. One of my favorite quotes of hers is 'Take your broken heart and make it into art.' And she did just that. And I hope to pass that torch, or in this case, lightsaber of wisdom onto the next generation of fans."

"I can't wait to bring my kids here when they're old enough to understand how cool it is," Lourd finished. "And finally, thank you to the fans again for loving her like I do. Congratulations, Mom."

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Meanwhile, Foster has been making headlines as she promotes two new projects, including her highly acclaimed role in Netflix's Nyad, in which she stars opposite Annette Bening. Her work in the swimming drama is speculated to have put her in the running for the upcoming Oscars. 

Foster's also headlining the fourth season of HBO's True Detective: Night Country. The six-episode series will follow Detectives Liz Danvers (Foster) and Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) as they "confront the darkness they carry in themselves" while searching for eight missing men at the Tsalal Arctic Research Station in Ennis, Alaska. 

The award-winning cast features Foster and Reis alongside Finn Bennett and Fiona Shaw, Christopher Eccleston, Isabella Star LaBlanc, and John Hawkes, with guest star appearances from Anna Lambe, Aka Niviâna, June Thiele, Diane Benson, and Joel D. Montgrand.

Mexican filmmaker Issa López serves as writer, director and executive producer on the series, with Foster also executive producing.

Watch Foster's full interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon below.