Happy 100th Birthday Sir Alec Guinness, May The Force Be With You

Alec Guiness would have celebrated his 100th Birthday today and even though he was one of the main characters that made Star Wars what it is today, he was not a fan of the movie at the time the production was taking place.

Of course, Sir Alec was not only known for playing the Jedi Master, Obi Wan Kenobi, he played many iconic roles prior to joining George Lucas in that “fairy tale rubbish”, as he dubbed the blockbuster then.

Alec Guiness along with Sir Lawrence Olivier, and John Gielgud were the three British actors that successfully transitioned from major Shakespeare theater productions such as Hamlet, Richard II, Great Expectations, The Merchant of Venice and others to a career in Hollywood blockbusters.

Guinness was also a war hero serving as a seaman in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during World War II and he commanded a landing craft taking part in the invasion of Sicily and Elba.

After his time serving England in World War II, Alec Guiness continued with his work in theater and embarked in a Hollywood career with roles in films such as The Bridge Over The River Kwai, for which he was awarded the Oscar.

Later on the legendary actor would appear in such notorious films as Doctor Zhivago, Lawrence Of Arabia, and A Passage To India.

But the role that brought Alec Guiness worldwide recognition was that of Obi Wan Kenobi, the old Jedi Master who takes young Luke Skywalker under his wing in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Considering, Guinness was known as a character actor up until that point in his career, it was highly unusual to see him playing such a frivolous role and for many it was simply shocking to see an actor of his caliber in a movie about interstellar space ships.

Obi Wan almost didn’t happen for Alec Guiness and he only accepted after they doubled his salary. As a matter of fact, the British great thought so little of the film that he shared some pointed thoughts with a friend prior to joining George Lucas’ movie:

“I have been offered a movie (20th Cent. Fox) which I may accept, if they come up with proper money. London and N. Africa, starting in mid-March. Science fiction – which gives me pause – but is to be directed by Paul [sic] Lucas who did American Graffiti, which makes me feel I should. Big part. Fairy-tale rubbish but could be interesting perhaps.”

Sir Alec’s comment about one of the most successful films in movie history is somewhat laughable all these years later knowing how well it all ended up, however, one can understand his hesitance.

Guiness complained to his friend that he wasn’t impressed once production started:

“… new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wadges of pink paper – and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable. I just think, thankfully, of the lovely bread, which will help me keep going until next April even if Yahoo collapses in a week… I must off to studio and work with a dwarf (very sweet – and he has to wash in a bidet) and your fellow countrymen Mark Hamill and Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (? – No!) – well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing. But Oh, God, God, they make me feel ninety – and treat me as if I was 106. – Oh, Harrison Ford – ever heard of him?”

Any Star Wars fan will see the humor in Guiness’ words about his co-stars. Truly priceless stuff. Happy 100th Birthday Sir Alec.

[Image via Lucasfilm]