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inspired by What has been Harrison Ford's attitude toward Star Wars?

I've heard claims here and there about Alec Guinness's attitude toward the Star Wars franchise, with some claiming that he hates it or used to hate it, etc.

Did he like Star Wars and then grew to dislike it? Or vice versa? If he ever did dislike Star Wars, then why? etc.

Basically, what has been Alec Guinness's attitude(s) towards Star Wars?

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    I hope you're not planning on asking about every SW actor's opinions on the films.
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 22:32
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    @Kevin Guinness and Ford are the only one's I'd heard didn't like SW. Have you heard of any others? :)
    – RedCaio
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 5:44
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    Actually, I heard about Ewan McGregor not being a great fan of his role...
    – DaG
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 10:46

3 Answers 3

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He was contemptuous towards Star Wars before he even started!

Here's what he wrote in a letter to a friend when he was first approached for a role in the original Star Wars:

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.

And here's his commentary from while he was on set:

... 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?

(all emphasis mine; source)

And he remained unimpressed even years later.

From this 1982 interview:

But . . . the 'Star Wars' pictures. How did I like doing them? I liked the people very much. But, no, they're not really much fun to act in, not when you're put totally in the hands of technicians and asked to sit in a cylinder and imagine explosions. That's only amusing for a time.

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    Weren't you supposed to wait for my answer that said 'I don't have sources'? ;) Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 2:13
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    "even if Yahoo collapses in a week"?
    – Dronz
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 3:39
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    @Dronz "Yahoo" was a play that Alec Guinness had a part in (source, more info).
    – rakslice
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 4:11
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    Here in the 21st century, Yahoo's collapse has taken a decade or more.
    – hobbs
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 6:33
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In addition to rand al'thor's answer, one anecdote about Alec Guinness which I find funny, and which illustrates his well-known dislike for Star Wars is this one:

A kid approached him, asking for his autograph and claiming to have seen Star Wars "a hundred times". Alec Guinness gave the autograph on the condition the kid promised him never to watch it again.

A refurbished Star Wars is on somewhere or everywhere. I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned. Twenty years ago, when the film was first shown, it had a freshness, also a sense of moral good and fun. Then I began to be uneasy at the influence it might be having. The bad penny first dropped in San Francisco when a sweet-faced boy of twelve told me proudly that he had seen Star Wars over a hundred times. His elegant mother nodded with approval. Looking into the boy’s eyes I thought I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form and I guessed that one day they would explode.

“I would love you to do something for me,” I said.

“Anything! Anything!” the boy said rapturously.

“You won’t like what I’m going to ask you to do,” I said.

“Anything, sir, anything!”

“Well,” I said, “do you think you could promise never to see Star Wars again?”

He burst into tears. His mother drew himself up to an immense height. “What a dreadful thing to say to a child!” she barked, and dragged the poor kid away. Maybe she was right but I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.

I knew this anecdote from a newspaper article, but Wikipedia gives the source as the book "A Positively Final Appearance" (additional source).

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    I've seen at least one recounting of the Alec Guinness / fan conversation that pointed out that the timing worked out such that the child must have been watching the Star Wars film multiple times a day, clearly more than just a youthful fascination.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 4:14
  • "I detected little star-shells of madness beginning to form"... that part is pure gold.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 5:27
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    ROFL! That's just what I feel like saying to all the Star Wars fanatics on this site...
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 10:22
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    @randal'thor :D In all fairness, I am a Star Wars fan (OT only, pre most inane edits by Georgie). But I totally get what Guinness was saying, and he was hilarious (and a damn good actor). I disagree with him in his dislike of any escapist fantasy or scifi, not just the most absurd parts of Star Wars. Obsessive fans of any kind make me nervous as well, however.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 13:19
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    And that little boy grew up to be.........Hayden Christensen
    – Mike Clark
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 16:05
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Sir Alec admits that early on he didn't like the script and that the dialogue was rubbish, but that he made a connection to it and thought there was something there.

... the script arrived and I thought 'oh,, George Lucas, that's you know a name to conjure with, avant garde thing'. Then opened it, saw it was science fiction, I thought 'not for me' and started to read it and was held. Although the dialogue was appalling, but there was something about it that made you go on turning the pages. Now that's fairly rare in a script.

When I met Lucas we could talk the same language. I enjoyed doing it, but I don't think anyone had much confidence in the picture, except in a funny way, me. I didn't know it was going to be that successful, but I heard now that people dispargining the work. I said, 'now you mark my words it's been done with great taste, imagination, was something more to it than you think'...

I found this clip on a reel, and I am trying verify when the interview was done. Sir Alec's opinions may have soured on the film as it gained mega-popularity, but I am adding an answer to where he has at least a semi-positive attitude towards it.

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    +1 This is a great find. It's puzzling that it doesn't match anything else Sir Alec said, both before and during filming. Well, the part about all of the dialogue being "appaling" does match. In the part I quote in my answer, Alec does say Star Wars was at least "fresh" and "fun" when it was first shown, but I don't think he enjoyed acting in it either... (In any case: this is a GREAT find!)
    – Andres F.
    Commented May 16 at 14:21
  • i don't think this and the other statements he made are in opposition. He basically is saying it was something interesting; unlikely to be good; he liked most of the people; thought the reception was a little over the top. Not contradictory IMO.
    – Yorik
    Commented May 16 at 16:35

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