Live reading of The Empire Strikes Back casts Ellen Page as Han Solo, Mark Hamill as Obi-Wan

live reading empire strikes back casts ellen page han solo mark hamill obi wan star wars episode v the
Oscar-nominated director Jason Reitman’s live reading of the script for Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back earlier this week assembled quite an impressive list of actors — but it’s the casting that really made this an intriguing performance.

The event, which happened Thursday night, December 18, in Los Angeles, featured a live cast reading of the original script for The Empire Strikes Back penned by Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, and George Lucas. The latest in a series of live-reading performances organized by Reitman, this one was initially slated to feature Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul as Luke Skywalker, Spider-Man franchise actor J.K. Simmons as Darth Vader, Stephen Merchant as C-3PO, Dennis Haysbert as Lando Calrissian, and Kevin Pollack as Yoda. Original trilogy star Mark Hamill was a surprise addition to the cast in the dual roles of Emperor Palpatine and Obi-Wan Kenobi, with Rainn Wilson also joining the cast as Chewbacca.

Most significant, however, was the casting of Jessica Alba as Princess Leia and Ellen Page as Han Solo.

Yes, you read that correctly: The Juno and Inception actress reportedly played a slightly stammering version of the smuggler with a heart of gold famously brought to the screen by Harrison Ford in the original trilogy.

“In casting Han, the most important thing is: Who has the most interesting, ironic approach to life?” explained Reitman of casting Page in the iconic role. “And when I think of that, I think of Ellen Page. She’s a small human being who has the energy to fill Madison Square Garden.”

Unexpected casting has been the standard for Reitman’s live-reading series, which is intended to put new spins on classic screenplays using a cast that alters the way we think of the film. Previous events featured a cast of all-black actors — Laurence Fishburne, Terrence Howard, and Cuba Gooding Jr. — as the leading men in Reservoir Dogs, while another reading cast The Princess Bride star Cary Elwes (who originally played the film’s hero) as the villain of the story.

“For Leia, I just wanted to find an actress who was beautiful and also had the ability to be tough and funny, and I’ve seen Alba do all of that,” said Reitman of casting the Sin City actress as Leia, whose initial hatred of Han Solo develops into one of the series’ most memorable romantic threads.

“I needed somebody who would have chemistry with Ellen,” said Reitman. “Chemistry is chemistry, whether it be between a man and a woman, two women, or two men. I have no doubt that Ellen Page could have chemistry with anybody.”

The event also featured some memorable interpretations of the script according to The Hollywood Reporter, with Pollack portraying a fast-talking, hyperactive version of Yoda that was actually more in line with the original script’s depiction of the character. Merchant’s version of the android C-3PO also took a reportedly foul-mouthed turn.

Paul’s reading of Luke Skywalker was reportedly another highlight of the performance, with his delivery of the script’s sci-fi dialogue and tech-speak (intentionally) earning laughs from the audience.

Sadly, Reitman’s series of live-read performances aren’t recorded, so fans who were unable to attend the event will just have to imagine the weird, wonderful version of The Empire Strikes Back that played out on the stage.

Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (November 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Cassian Andor series and 'Mandalorian' details expand Star Wars' future

Disney has sky-high expectations for its Star Wars universe, with plenty of plans for the franchise on the big screen and television over the next few years. Here are all the upcoming movies and TV shows, both rumored and confirmed.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Buster Scruggs,’ ‘Missing Link,’ ‘Mowgli’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Mortal Engines, and the first trailer for Missing…
Movies & TV

Michelle Yeoh reportedly in talks for stand-alone ‘Star Trek’ show

Reports claims that actress Michelle Yeoh is in talks to reprise her Star Trek: Discovery role in a spin-off series. The series will focus on Georgiou being recruited into Section 31, a secretive organization within Starfleet.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Room 104,’ German thriller ‘Beat,’ and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Room 104 returns for a second season, Robert the Bruce fights for Scotland's throne, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

‘The Grinch’ steals the box-office crown from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch is the new box-office champion, knocking off Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and posting a better opening weekend than Jim Carrey's 2000 live-action film based on the character.
Movies & TV

The ‘Toy Story 4’ teaser trailer is here to fork with your emotions

Disney released the first teaser trailer for its latest addition to the Toy Story franchise. The quick glimpse of what's to come shows all our favorite toys back in action, as well as a strange -- and seemingly unhinged -- new character.

Everyone’s favorite Pokémon turns gumshoe in ‘Detective Pikachu’ trailer

The first Detective Pikachu trailer has arrived, and it looks like a video game movie could actually be good? Voiced by Ryan Reynolds, Pikachu is undeniably cute in what is shaping up to be a family-friendly buddy comedy.
Movies & TV

Stan Lee has died: Marvel Comics icon and legendary creator dead at 95

Stan Lee, one of the world's most important and iconic comic-book authors, has died at the age of 95. Creator of some of the most famous and beloved superheroes and villains of all time, Lee leaves behind an indelible legacy.
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.