It's usually around this time of the year that movie buffs sigh and -- settling back on the rocking chair on their metaphorical porch -- reminisce wistfully about how they don't make summer movies like they used to. This, of course, inspires the daydream: What if they did? Specifically (as I was inclined to contemplate after a few deck beers) what if you made (or, for that matter, re-made) the three films that began with 1977's Star Wars today? The following's just an exercise -- think of it as the film nerd equivalent of Fantasy Football -- but here are a few picks for the leads in the original Star Wars trilogy, if you re-cast them today. Only two ground rules: No one who's been in a Star Wars film so far (sorry, Keira Knightley) and, well, no one from Serenity, either -- that's too easy. Alternate picks are included, too, if you want to go lower-budget ... and if you want to weigh in, there are fabulous prizes (well, prize) for the best cast of seven submitted by our readers. ...


1) Luke Skywalker: You want someone young and determined, who can grow into strength from uncertainty -- whoever gets this role has to be able to whine about the power converters and swing a lightsaber. My pick would be Ryan Gosling -- he's a good actor, has a strong presence, and his small-town Canadian roots would help him fill in what it's like to grow up on Tatooine. Alternate Pick: Shane West (ER; A Walk to Remember)  for the same reasons.

2) Princess Leia: Any Leia should be able to go from a diplomatic event to a gunfight and still look great doing either: Brains, pluck, sass and class. My pick would actually be Rosario Dawson, for all the above reasons, and as you can believe her as somene Han and Luke would fall for instantly. Alternate Pick: Evangeline Lilly, and not just for the barge bikini. But that'd be nice, too.

(More casting picks after the jump. ...)
3) Han Solo: Swagger, charm, self-centered self-interest, insouciance ... Who else but Vince Vaughn? You can buy him as a down-on-his luck smuggler, and you know he'd disparage 'ancient religions' with the best of them. Alternate Pick: John Cho (Better Luck Tomorrow, American Dreamz), who'd probably portray a Solo more slippery than swaggering.

4) Obi-Wan Kenobi: Wisdom, humility, good humor, elegance and the capacity for decisive action: Let's liberate Morgan Freeman from the voice-over booth, shall we? Freeman's not just great at exposition -- he gives off real warmth, and you can imagine him cutting someone's arm off. Alternate Pick: Bearded George Clooney. (Hey, Guinness got the best salary for Star Wars, didn't he? Spend the money; it'd be worth it.) Gravitas, baby!

5) Darth Vader: In the original films Vader was played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones -- why not hire someone who's got the bulk and the bass voice? Vincent D'Onofrio would be about right -- if you can play Orson Welles, you can play Vader -- and at 6'4, he's big enough. Alternate Pick: Michael Clarke Duncan, but then you get the whole Chasing Amy -style Star Wars racism discussion all over again. ...

6) Lando Calrissian: A businessman, but not unprincipled. A charmer, but untrustworthy. And anyone who's seen him in action would bet that Jason Lee could do a heck of a job. Alternate Pick: Orlando Jones -- you'd get a bit more comedy out of the part, but that would hardly kill Empire. ...

7) The Emperor: You don't have to cast the smiling, plotting bureaucrat of I-III;  you just need a presence with a chilling voice. And, Kevin Spacey's mockery aside, who better than Christopher Walken? Can't you see him hurling lightning with his bare hands while seducing Luke to the dark side? Alternate Pick: Terry O'Quinn (The Stepfather, Lost) -- he's got the voice and the presence as well, and would give a nice chill to the part.

The above is solely an exercise in time-wasting and summertime daydreaming ... so if your Wi-Fi reaches your hammock, weigh in below ... and if you'd like to name a cast, the best grouping as selected by our panel of experts will win a nifty Cinematical T-shirt!