30 fun Star Wars facts that will make you more knowledgeable about a galaxy far, far away

The Skywalker saga is about to end. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will bring closure to the story of Anakin, Luke, Leia, Kylo, and Rey. But, before then, there's time to reminisce about everything that's come before. 

Below, we look at 30 Star Wars facts, ranging from those about the major installments, to others touching on the spin-offs.  These are, indeed, the Star Wars facts you have been looking for.

Carrie Fisher refused to use modesty tape while filming in Jabba's Palace

The Jabba Palace sequence in Return of the Jedi was hugely complex to film, with the scene involving 42 extras, 18 principal cast members, 10 puppeteers, nine mime artists, and 90 crew members. No wonder, then, that it took an entire month to capture on film. Plus, to make matters worse, there was a famous gold bikini that wouldn't behave itself.

Carrie Fisher refused to use tape to keep everything in place, which resulted in many sequences needing to be reshot because of wardrobe malfunctions. Also, while we're talking about Return of the Jedi, did you know the Death Star Two was 460% larger than the first (destroyed) one seen in A New Hope?

Harrison Ford broke his ankle… and J.J. Abrams broke his back trying to save him

Harrison Ford famously 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, however, is that J.J. 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, Abrams visited a doctor and was told he had actually broken his back. Despite this, Abrams never told the cast and returned to work wearing a back brace.

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. There was even 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, adding that it was the first Star Wars movie “that’s gone off-piste and is not part of the saga – or the Anakin story."

Ewoks were never formally called Ewoks in Return of the Jedi

It's hard to imagine Return of the Jedi without Ewoks, but originally an army of Wookiees were intended to help out on Endor. In the end, Lucas opted to use a smaller, furry animal instead, and so the Ewok was born. 

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 appears in the script, the movie’s end credits, and – later – other spin-off and promotional materials. We finally did get a Wookiee battle to remember, though, in Revenge Of The Sith.

James Bond had a cameo in The Force Awakens

(Image credit: LucasFilm)

Remember the scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens where Rey uses the force to free herself from Kylo Ren's interrogation chair? Well, underneath that Stormtrooper grab is Daniel Craig, the actor best known for playing James Bond. Speaking in an interview during July 2015, Craig said: “Why would I ever bother doing something like that? Fucking hell! Pffft. Play an extra in another movie?” 

However, 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.”

Even Hollywood actors get excited holding lightsabers

Shove a lightsaber in any grown man's hands and they're immediately transformed into a giddy child. Even Trainspotting actor 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.

Actors also can't help going "pew pew"

(Image credit: LucasFilm)

Like how McGragor couldn't help making Lightsaber noises, Laura Dern couldn't stop herself making gun noises. every time the Jurassic Park actress fired her gun she went “pew pew”.

Dern made the noice so much, that if you watch The Last Jedi very closely, you can see her mouth moving as her character fires a blaster. this was revealed by director Rian Johnson in his commentary on the movie. 

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.

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 didn’t even get to speak himself, with his only three lines overdubbed by Peter Serafinowicz. 

Del Toro went on to land a role in The Last Jedi and manages to have more than three lines. Score? Also, did you know his double-ended lightsaber was a design lifted from comic book series Tales Of The Jedi: The Sith War.

The Last Jedi was called Space Bears during filming

During filming on Return of the Jedi (initially titled Revenge of the Jedi), the film was titled 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. The Last Jedi went under the working title Space Bears, and Rogue One was called Los Alamos.

Kylo Ren's lightsaber comes from a very old design

Kylo Ren’s lightsaber – with the two hand-guards poking out of the side, known as quillions – is an ancient design said to have been first made sometime around 34 ABY. Apparently, the handguards 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.

The word "Wookiee" has a great 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.

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 E.T. director 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. Rumour has it Spielberg went on to make War of the Worlds having gained invaluable experience with modern day visual effects.

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 that staggering number of effects, Revenge of the Sith was the only Star Wars prequel not to pick up a nomination for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars (Rogue One, likewise, was not nominated). 

Every single Revenge of the Sith clone trooper was CGI

There's not a single live-action clone in Revenge of the Sith. They were all created using CGI, meaning that not a single clone helmet or costume was physically created for the threequel.

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. Episode 7, however, famously used more practical effects compared to Lucas's prequels.

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's 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.

The Lightsaber almost didn't hum

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

There was once a time when no-one knew what noice a lightsaber made. Ben Burtt, the sound designer on the first film, revealed that he didn't know the sound the blade, and only came across the iconic hum by accident.

"I was carrying a microphone across the room," he said. "When the microphone passed a television set which was on the floor, which was on at the time without the sound turned up, but the microphone passed right behind the picture tube and, as it did, [it] produced an unusual hum. That was a great buzz, actually. So, I took that buzz and recorded it and combined it with the projector motor sound and that 50/50 kind of combination of those two sounds became the basic lightsaber tone."

There are potatoes in space

The asteroid sequence in The Empire Strikes Back is legendary for multiple reasons. Over the years, we've heard a whole host of stories about what the asteroids were actually made of, with rumours that a shoe and a potato made up the astroids. 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. “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!”

Luke could've been a dwarf, and Han Solo a green-skinned monster with gills

During the writing stage of A New Hope, the Force was originally envisioned as a kind of galactic holy grail called 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.

A lot of people were considered for the part of Han Solo

Though he was originally envisioned as some kind of Swamp Thing, 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. Of course, come the spin-odd movie Solo, and dozens of young Hollywood actors were auditioned, including Miles Teller, but it was Alden Ehrenreich who landed the role.

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 flag depicting the 501st Legion. 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.

R2-D2's beeps are from a baby

It seems sound editor Ben Burtt's genius knows no bounds. He turned to numerous unusual sources to create the 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.

The Star Wars theme was released as a pop single

A remixed version of the original Star Wars theme was released by Meco. 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.

Yoda's eyes were based on Albert Einstein's

If Yoda looked familiar the first time you saw him, it's probably because part of his likeness – his eyes – was based on the eminent scientist, Albert Einstein. 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 after 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.

Cleaners kept tidying up A New Hope's 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 were often kicked around and rolled in dirt.

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...

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 said that even, though Chewie was more animal than human, the studio execs weren't happy about the fact the Wookie was essentially naked. 

"I remember the memos from 20th Century Fox, 'Can you put a pair of lederhosen on the Wookie?'", Hamill said. "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.

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. 

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 a pair of vampire fangs. Why? It was a light reference to Lee's iconic role as Dracula. 

Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is actually a women's razor

Thought that the communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace looked sort of familiar? That's probably because it's actually a Sensor Excel Razor for women that's been 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 shop, just head to the razor aisle in your local supermarket and job done.

Porgs started off as "Puffin People"

(Image credit: LucasFilm)

Everyone loves the Porgs. The inhabitants of Ahch-To, however, were basically designed out of convenience rather than anything else. According to designer Jake Lunt Davies, there were so many puffins on Skellig Michael that director Rian Johnson just decided to incorporate puffins into the movie.

"Everywhere you look there are hundreds of birds dotted around the landscape," Davies said. "From what I gathered, Rian, in a positive spin on this, was looking at how can he work with this. You can’t remove them. You physically can’t get rid of them. And digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let’s just roll with it, play with it." Thus, the Porg was born.

Need more Star Wars in your life? Here's how to watch all the Star Wars movies in order, and where they all fit into the Star Wars timeline.

Andy Hartup