Today, Star Wars is one of the most universally loved properties of all time. In 1977, though, the name Star Wars simply referred to the film we now know as A New Hope. Nevertheless, despite its immense popularity, there are still a number of interesting behind-the-scenes facts and bits of trivia that even the most dedicated Star Wars fans don’t know about the franchise-launching film.
With that in mind, here are 10 things you might not know about A New Hope:
No Hope for ‘A New Hope’
It’s hard to imagine a time when there was any skepticism surrounding the box office success of a Star Wars film. However, upon its release, George Lucas was so certain A New Hope would flop that instead of attending the premiere, he opted to go on a Hawaiian vacation with friend and fellow director Steven Spielberg. Coincidentally, it was on that very trip that the pair came up with the initial idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark, which also starred Han Solo actor Harrison Ford.
A Man of Few Words
Despite being the visionary mind behind the Star Wars franchise, George Lucas wasn’t known for his communication skills. In fact, on the set of A New Hope, his only real direction consisted of shouting “faster” or “more intense.” As such, when Lucas lost his voice during filming, the production crew fashioned him a set of cue cards with those two phrases written on them so he could hold them up when necessary.
The Origin of R2-D2
Few, if any of the unique names created for Star Wars films are random. In many cases, they stem from George Lucas’ own personal experiences from his work on past films, as evidenced by R2-D2. During post-production of American Graffiti, a member of the sound crew requested reel #2 of the second dialogue track, which – in filmmaking lingo – equated to “R2-D2.” Naturally, Lucas liked the sound of it and decided to make a mental note for future reference.
The Origin of Han Solo’s Golden Dice
The set of golden dice hanging from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon have always been of particular interest to Star Wars fans, largely because they appeared in A New Hope, and then inexplicably disappeared until The Force Awakens. Of course, the in-universe origin of the dice is that they’re the ones Han used in the sabacc game where he won the Falcon, but the true reason they were added to the film was to pay tribute to American Graffiti. In that film, Harrison Ford’s character has a skull hanging from his rear-view mirror, while Ron Howard’s character has a set of fuzzy dice.
It’s a Small World After All
George Lucas shopped A New Hope around to several studios before it was finally picked up by 20th Century Fox. Among them were Universal, United Artists, and Disney. Ironically, Disney would go on to buy Lucasfilm in 2012, and then Fox in 2017.
Death by Lightsaber
Two things strongly associated with Darth Vader are his willingness to kill and his trusty red lightsaber. However, ironically enough, A New Hope is the only Star Wars saga film in which we actually witness Vader use his lightsaber to kill someone (Obi-Wan Kenobi). The only other time we see him take a life via this method is in Rogue One, which isn’t part of the main saga but rather a spinoff film.
In A New Hope, the fan-favorite character of Wedge Antilles is actually portrayed by two different actors. The first, who isn’t credited in the film, is Colin Higgins, whom fans likely remember saying, “That’s impossible! Even for a computer.” However, Higgins left the project after just one day of filming and was replaced by Denis Lawson, and both men’s voices were eventually overdubbed by David Ankrum for consistency. Higgins’ version of the character, referred to lovingly by fans as “Fake Wedge,” was eventually canonized as Col in the 2017 anthology book From a Certain Point of View, with the in-universe explanation being that Col was often mistaken for Wedge by his peers.
R2’s Filthy Mouth
Although R2-D2’s dialogue in the Star Wars films merely consists of beeps and squeals, early drafts of the script for A New Hope actually had the loveable droid speaking English. Not only that, but apparently he also cursed like a sailor. In fact, if you pay attention to C-3PO’s reactions to many of R2’s lines, you can get the sense that he has some rather colorful vocabulary.
One of the most beloved scenes in A New Hope is the one in which Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie find themselves trapped in the Death Star’s trash compactor. However, filming that scene took quite a toll on Mark Hamill, who held his breath for so long when he was pulled into the murky water that he ended up breaking a blood vessel on his face. Because of this, subsequent scenes had to be shot from the opposite side, or – in the case of the medal ceremony – Hamill had to smile excessively to help hide the unsightly blemish.
The Evolution of Luke Skywalker
The version of Luke Skywalker we’re presented with in A New Hope is a farm boy who dreams of becoming a fighter pilot. This wasn’t always the case, though. Originally, Luke’s name was Luke Starkiller, but it was changed to Skywalker to distance the character from serial killers such as Charles Manson. Furthermore, the character was at one point envisioned as a woman, due to the lack of female characters in the film (this was at a time when Leia had been temporarily cut). Other potential versions of Luke that were left on the cutting room floor include a 60-year-old Jedi Master, a la Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a dwarf.