So... who REALLY shot first?
As Star Wars: The Last Jedi's hype train hits its final stretch (not long to go now, right?), we can't stop thinking about the latest Star Wars instalment, nor reminiscing about favourite moments from the existing movies. But while there's little doubting that the Star Wars fandom is one of the biggest and most knowledgeable ones out there, even this cherished entertainment series has a mystery or two. So here we present not only the greatest Star Wars facts and info, but also one or two cheeky secrets about that galaxy far, far away...
30. Carrie Fisher refused to use modesty tape during *that* scene in Jabba's Palace
The Jabba Palace sequence in Return of the Jedi was hugely complex, involved 42 extras, 18 principal cast members, 10 puppeteers, nine mime artists, and 90 crew members... not to mention it took an entire month to film. Plus, there was one famous gold bikini that often wouldn't behave itself…
Carrie Fisher refused to use tit-tape to keep everything in place, which resulted in many sequences to be reshot because of, er, wardrobe malfunctions. Also, while we're on subject of the Return of the Jedi, did you know the Death Star 2 was 460% larger than the first (destroyed) one from A New Hope?
29. Harrison Ford broke his ankle… and JJ Abrams broke his back trying to save him
You probably know that Harrison Ford broke his ankle on the set of The Force Awakens in 2014, after one of the Falcon's hydraulic doors slammed down on his leg. What you perhaps didn't know is that JJ Abrams broke his back... while trying to rescue Ford. According to Vanity Fair, the director attempted to lift the door off Ford's ankle when he heard a 'popping sound'. A few days later he visited the doctor and was told he'd actually broken his back. A trooper to the end, Abrams never told the cast and crew, and returned to work wearing a back brace…
28. Rogue One wasn't always called Rogue One
Rogue One’s naming has a curious history, and remains the only Star Wars movie where the title of the film is actually spoken as a line of dialogue. One of the alternative titles of the movie was Dark Times, but that was rejected shortly into pre-production. And there was an opening crawl to the movie, but it was never used.
“Rogue One is a military call sign to some extent,” said director Gareth Edwards at the time, but he also acknowledged that it was the first Star Wars movie “that’s gone off-piste and is not part of the saga – or the Anakin story." So yup, that's why it's the "rogue" one.
27. Ewoks were never formally called Ewoks in Return of the Jedi
Hard to imagine Return of the Jedi without Ewoks, I know, but originally, an army of Wookiees was originally intended to help out on Endor. In the end, Lucas opted to use a smaller furry animal instead, and so the Ewok was born (yay). Interestingly, the word Ewok isn't actually mentioned at all in the film, though. So how did we learn about their name?
Turns out the name only appeared in the script directions, the movie’s end credits, and - later - other spin-off and promotional materials. We finally did a Wookiee battle to remember, though, in Revenge Of The Sith (which featured a young Chewbacca).
26. James Bond *did* have a cameo in The Force Awakens
Remember the scene from The Force Awakens, where Rey uses the force to free herself from Kylo Ren's interrogation chair? Daniel Craig (yes, James Bond) is the Stormtrooper who lets her out. Speaking in an interview during July 2015, he said: “Why would I ever bother doing something like that? Fucking hell! Pffft. Play an extra in another movie?” but it was none other than Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg who let the cat out of the bad, telling the Sun “I wasn’t a stormtrooper. Daniel Craig, he was a stormtrooper,” before adding: “I shouldn’t have said that.”
25. Even Hollywood actors get excited holding lightsabers
Shove a lightsaber in any grown man's hands and they're immediately transformed into a giddy kid. Even Ewan McGregor's not immune: during the lightsaber duels in The Phantom Menace, he kept unconsciously imitating the noise of the lightsaber during his fight scenes, even though George Lucas kept reminding him that the real sound would be added in by the special effects team in post-production. "I keep getting carried away," he said, blaming a life-long and unconscious habit forged by all the pretend lightsaber duels he had as a child. McGregor wasn't the only one, either. Apparently, Hayden Christensen kept doing the same…
24. Lucas scoured the world to populate the Star Wars universe with non-English words and languages
George Lucas' plundering of non-English languages for names is legendary, but as well as pinching the Dutch word for father for Darth Vader, he also used the Sanskrit word for warrior to name Yoda, as well as a host of other words magpie'd from Africa, Central America, and the Himalayas. As for Jar Jar? Well, that name has an even more curious origin; it was created by George Lucas's son. Meanwhile, John Williams turned to a 13th century Welsh manuscript for the chanting in his composition 'Duel of the Fates', and translated the lines "under the tongue root a fight most dread, and another raging, behind in the head" into Sanskrit.
23. Benico Del Toro was almost Darth Maul
The role of Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace almost went to Benicio Del Toro. The actor wasn't happy when Lucas removed most of Maul's lines from the film, though, and dropped out, only to be replaced by Ray Park who - in the end - only speaks three lines in the entire film. Interestingly, Del Toro now has a role in the upcoming The Last Jedi and while, as yet, we don't know much about his character the mysterious man in black, it's probably safe to assume he says more than three lines, right?
Meanwhile, did you know his double-ended lightsaber was a design lifted from comic book series Tales Of The Jedi: The Sith War.
22. The Last Jedi was called Space Bears during filming
During filming on Return of the Jedi, the film went under the working title of Blue Harvest in order to keep curious fans from attempting to get on-set or guess what the story could've been about (a title that was, of course, later used in Family Guys loving spoof). Meanwhile, the working title for Episode 2 was - believe it or not - Jar Jar's Big Adventure, which would certainly have put many fans off attempting to infiltrate the film's production, let's face it. The Last Jedi went under the working title 'Space Bears', and Rogue One was called 'Los Alamos'.
21. Kylo Ren's lightsaber might have looked like a new design, but it was actually a very old one
Kylo Ren’s lightsaber - with the two hand-guards poking out of the side - is an ancient design, not a modern modification, and is said to have been made sometime around 34 ABY. These features are known as quillions, a real-life word that's used to describe the crossguard on a sword. Apparently, they poke out of Kylo Ren's handle as a result of a cracked Kyber crystal housed inside. Barely able to contain the weapon's power, the lateral vents divert heat to either side of the hilt, and its those that give the lightsaber its unique appearance. As you may remember, it was hugely publicised in the lead up to The Force Awakens.
20. The word 'Wookiee' has the greatest origin story
Peter Mayhew was working as an orderly at a hospital in Yorkshire when he was cast as Chewbacca in A New Hope. According to Star Wars legend, Lucas knew he was perfect within 10 seconds of meeting the Englishman, mostly because he was 7'2" (so it appears that sometimes, size does matter). As for the word Wookiee, the name came about after Terry McGovern did some voiceover work on THD 1138, in which he said: "I think I ran over a Wookie back there". Lucky for us, Lucas liked the made-up word so much he noted it down for later use.
19. Spielberg was initially forbidden from working with George Lucas
Steven Spielberg was George Lucas' first choice to direct Return of the Jedi. However, because Spielberg was part of the Directors Guild (which Lucas had left on bad terms), Spielberg was forbidden from taking the gig. Years later, though, The Beard did end up helping on Episode 3. When Lucas realised how massive the film was going to be, he asked Spielberg to help him with certain sequences, including the epic lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan. Rumours reckon Spielberg went on to make War of the Worlds having gained invaluable experience with modern day visual effects.
18. Less is more… especially when it comes to digital effects
By the time Episode 3 rolled around, Lucas had become so reliant on digital effects that the film contains over 2,200 digital effects shots. That might not sound a lot, but to put it into context, that was more than the combined total of special effects contained in Episodes 1 and 2. By contrast, A New Hope had just 350 visual effects shots. Somewhat ironically, despite all the effects in Episode 3, it was the only Star Wars film not to receive an Oscar nomination in the Best Visual Effects department. Sadly, that dubious honour has now gone to Rogue One, too.
17. Every single Revenge of the Sith clone trooper was created via CGI
There's not a single live-action clone in Revenge of the Sith. No, really. They were all created using CGI, meaning that not a single clone helmet or costume was physically created for the threequel - every single one was artificially made via CGI. We can't decide if that saved a lot of money or cost a lot of money, but either way, it means if you see a helmet pop up on eBay, it's a fake...
Ironically, for The Force Awakens, the blasters fired by the First Order troopers were based on compressed air guns, so they actually packed a real punch when fired. So, no fakery there.
16. Lucas was sued by Universal Studios over R2-D2
The droid factory sequence in Episode 2 wasn't in the film's original script: it was added later by George Lucas. Speaking of droids, Lucas original idea for R2-D2 came after he saw Silent Running and its trio of drones (Huey, Dewey and Louie). The likeness of R2-D2 and the drones prompted a lawsuit from Universal Studios, which was retracted when Fox countersued, noting the similarities between Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars. Sadly, The Force Awakens was the first movie that didn't feature original actor Kenny Baker as R2... although he is in the movie's credits as an R2-D2 consultant.
15. Harrison Ford's dialogue frustrations gave us *that* memorable quote
Harrison Ford coined a phrase that stuck when he found himself struggling with Lucas's dialogue on A New Hope. Frustrated, he raged: "George, you can type this shit, but you can't say it!" It's a quote that's been attributed to both Ford and Carrie Fisher. Though we could buy either of them saying it, according to Anthony Daniels, it was Ford who voiced what everybody was feeling on set. Proving that she could also be a quip machine, Fisher joked about having her breasts taped down under her costume: as we all know, there is no underwear in space.
14. There are potatoes in space
The asteroid sequence in The Empire Strikes Back is legendary for its special effects stories. Over the years we've heard a whole host of stories leaking out from numerous SFX crew members, including rumours that one of the asteroids in the sequence is actually a shoe, while another is a potato. The shoe was reportedly chucked in when one of the SFX animators became really annoyed by Lucas' continuous requests to make adjustments to the sequence…
"I was always trying to stick stuff into shots,” said Ken Ralston in a 2003 interview with Star Wars insider. “Jedi has my tennis shoes and also a yogurt container as part of the ships in the background! Who would know? It’s like there’s all this stuff going on – and I thought, ‘Hey, it’d be fun.’ It was my way of just saying, ‘See what you can get away with?’ Some people noodle this stuff so much, fretting about it, but it’s like, you know, you can’t tell what this stuff is – just stick it out there!”
13. Luke could've been a dwarf, and Han Solo a green-skinned monster with gills
During scripting of A New Hope, the Force was originally envisioned as a kind of galactic holy grail called - wait for it - the Kyber crystal. We now know that Kyber crystals are the rare components at the heart of a Jedi's lightsaber, and Rogue One deals with the mining of them to form the heart of the Deathstar's giant laser. That wasn't the only thing that changed during pre-production. While the Force became more of an energy, Luke and his relatives were originally imagined as dwarves, while Han Solo was going to be a green-skinned monster who had a set of gills and no nose.
12. A lot of people were considered for the part of Han Solo before Harrison Ford was cast
Though he was originally envisioned as some kind of Swamp Thing (we really weren't kidding about the green skin and gills thing, we swear), Han Solo was later reimagined by Lucas to be a person of colour, which prompted him to audition the likes of Glynn Turman and Billy Dee Williams. After a change of heart, Lucas auditioned everybody from Jack Nicholson and Nick Nolte to Christopher Walken, before finally settling on Harrison Ford. Now we're getting Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo, and Donald Glover as the young Lando in the forthcoming spin-off movie.
11. Some actors appear from beyond the grave
In Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas originally wanted to resurrect Peter Cushing using stock footage and CGI in order for him to reprise his role as Tarkin, the character he played in A New Hope. Sadly, the footage of Cushing was deemed unusable and Lucas was forced to abandon his plan. Of course we now have CG Tarkin in Rogue One, which is - while technologically amazing - remains deeply creepy.
“This was done for very solid and defendable story reasons," said John Knoll, chief creative officer at Industrial Light & Magic. "This is a character that is very important to telling this kind of story. It is extremely labor-intensive and expensive to do. I don’t imagine anybody engaging in this kind of thing in a casual manner."
10. Flags outside Maz Kanata’s castle include reference to an international fan group
The flags hanging outside Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens contain a host of iconic symbols, and eagle-eyed fans have spotted Ziro the Hutt’s Black Sun tattoo, Boba Fett’s Mythosaur skull, and Hondo Ohnaka’s pirate symbol.
Less known, however, is the icon on the flag depicting the 501st Legion (and the Legion itself). Whilst a reference to the Clone War regiment known as Vader's Fist who fought the Jedi Order, it's also the name of an international fan organisation that prides itself on re-creating and wearing a host of Star Wars replica items, including screen-accurate Clone Troopers, Imperial Stormtrooper armour, Sith Lords, the bounty hunters, and, naturally, a range of heroes and villains.
9. Chewbacca's growls are bears, and R2-D2's whistles are a baby. No, really
It seems sound editor Ben Burtt's genius knows no bounds. He turned to numerous unusual sources to create the many (and we mean MANY) sound effects that he needed for Star Wars, many of which have now become as iconic as the story and visuals themselves. Chewbacca's growls, for instance, were a mix-tape of various large mammals (mostly bears), while R2-D2's signature whistles are actually baby sounds manipulated to sound electronic. Meanwhile, the lightsaber sound effect was achieved by combining the sound of a movie projector with the feedback made by holding a stripped cable by a TV set. Amazing, right?
8. The Star Wars theme was released as a single in the pop charts
A pop version of the original Star Wars theme that appeared in original A New Hope was remixed and released by Meco, the brain behind the disco version that included some of the Cantina Band song. In a sure sign of the film's sky-rocketing success, the song climbed to the number one spot on the Billboard Pop Chart in October 1977 and stayed there for two weeks, much to fans' delight. Time for a reissue, we say - maybe it could secure a spot as Christmas number one, anyone? We'd love this to pop up on our Spotify party playlist...
7. Yoda's wise old eyes were based on Albert Einstein
If Yoda looked familiar the first time you saw him (in The Empire Strikes Back), it's probably because part of his likeness was based on eminent scientist, Albert Einstein - in particular, his wise eyes. The puppet was so lifelike, in fact, that director Irvin Kershner often gave it directions instead of puppeteer Frank Oz. Interestingly, Oz only landed the job when original choice Jim Henson turned it down and recommended the puppeteer. Lucas was so impressed with Oz's work that he lobbied for him to receive an Oscar nomination. Sadly, it wasn't to be.
6. I have a bad feeling about this story...
The saga's most-repeated line is: "I have a bad feeling about this". It originated in Episode 4 (uttered by Luke), before being repeated by Han Solo in the same movie, then Leia in Episode 5, and C3-PO in Episode 6. The prequels continued the trend with Obi-Wan saying it in Episode 1 and Episode 3, and Anakin in Episode II. Han picked up the line once again in The Force Awakens when the Rathtars are set loose on the Millennium Falcon. In Rogue One, it becomes a joke, when K-2SO gets half way through the line and Jyn tells him "Quiet".
5. Cleaners kept tidying up A New Hope's dusty, dirty environments
During production of A New Hope, Lucas and his team constantly butted heads with the studio's cleaners, who kept cleaning up the sets, despite continuous requests to leave the environmental props alone. It was particularly annoying for Lucas, who wanted his sets to look dirty and lived in, contributing to the movie it's authenticity. Inspired by Gerry Anderson's work on Thunderbirds, Lucas attempted to dirty up everything that would go on camera. Very little escaped abuse to achieve the effect Lucas wanted; even the R2-D2 models were not exempt, as they, in particular, were often kicked around and rolled in dirt.
4. This princess wasn't afraid to fly coach class
The budget on A New Hope was so limited that when it came to location shooting, Lucas and his cast and crew decided to fly to England from the States in economy class rather than turn left when they got on the plane. When Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, discovered this, she was horrified, and called Lucas to express her disdain. Luckily, Fisher herself was nearby and took the phone from Lucas to say: "Mother, I want to fly coach, will you fuck off?!" Which is something we can all imagine Princess Leia saying, too, right?
3. Chewbecca nearly wore lederhosen in A New Hope
Can you picture what Chewbacca would have looked like if he'd been clothed? Well, according to Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, that's what almost happened. The actor has said that even though Chewie was more animal than human, the studio execs weren't happy about the fact the Wookie was essentially naked for the entirety of A New Hope, and even attempted to design him some shorts to go with the costume.
"I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox, 'Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookie?'", Hamill told Space.com. "All they could think of was, 'This character has no pants on!' This went back and forth. They did sketches of him in culottes and baggy shorts." Needless to say it never happened. Phew.
2. Yoda once wore vampire fangs in a fight with Christopher Lee
Though we'd already seen examples of Yoda's formidable power in The Empire Strikes Back, Episode 2 was the first time the little green fella wielded a lightsaber - something the puppet had trouble with previously, as you might well imagine. During rehearsals of Yoda's fight with Count Dooku, a small Yoda model was put in place for Christopher Lee to use as a reference… although this particular Yoda model had been given a pair of vampire fangs as a joke about Lee's historic role as Dracula. How Lee was able to take it seriously after that, we have no idea...
1. Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is actually a razor. For women
Ever been in the shower and thought that the communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) in The Phantom Menace looked sort of familiar? That's probably because it's actually a Sensor Excel Razor for women, only resprayed, redecorated and with a couple of solder lugs and gadgets glue on to give it an even glossier sci-fi sheen. So the next time you're cosplaying Jinn and looking for inspiration when pulling together your costume, there's no need to visit a fancy craft shops - just head to the razor aisle in your local supermarket and job done. You're welcome.