Gary Oldman Almost Played an Iconic Villain in Star Wars

General Grievous made an immediate impression when he arrived in theaters in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. The cyborg wielded Jedi lightsabers from four limbs; something Star Wars fans had never seen up until that point. Although the character faced his demise in the same film from which he was introduced, he left a mark on audiences for years to come. Revenge of the Sith was a gigantic hit, which at the time was billed as the final Star Wars movie. The film generated $868 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of the year domestically and the second-highest-grossing film worldwide.

Following the release of Revenge of the Sith, the cyborg continued to make appearances in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which ran from 2008 to 2014, before being picked up for a final seventh season by Disney+ in 2020. Mathew Wood, sound editor and voice actor, played the role for all Grievous’s appearances. However, the part was almost given to someone else.

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While promoting his new Apple TV+ series, Slow Horses, Gary Oldman revealed in an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast that he initially was intended to be the voice behind the Separatist General. However, the actor spoke about losing the role due to union issues at the film’s shooting location in Australia. Oldman claimed he was able to record a few lines for the movie before leaving the project, adding that director George Lucas ‘was terrific.’

“Well, I did a voice for ‘Star Wars’… was it General Grievous? What happened was something to do with union stuff and non-union stuff. I was not going to be the poster boy for [breaking union rules]. [Lucas] directed me the whole thing; yeah, he was terrific.”

Although Lucas was forced to part ways with Oldman, at least Wood, a lesser-known voice actor, was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

Oldman Had Other Projects to Fall Back On

Despite missing out on his role in Revenge of the Sith, Gary Oldman had a few parts in 2005 that would become iconic themselves. First, the actor would play detective Jim Gordon in Batman Begins, which launched the ultra-successful Dark Knight trilogy by Christopher Nolan. The trilogy, which starred Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, would gross over $2 billion at the box office, and The Dark Knight would go on to become arguably be the best comic-book film ever put to screen.

Later that same year, Oldman would reprise his role as Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, another massive success at the box office, raking in $896 million over the film’s lifetime. Oldman can’t complain that he didn’t get his role in Star Wars, as the actor had a tremendous year in two of the biggest franchises in cinema. You can check out his latest role as Jackson Lamb in Slow Horses, now streaming in its entirety on AppleTV+.