Released in 1983, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi served as the culmination George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy. While it certainly isn’t held in the same regard by fans as Episodes IV and V, it remains a crucial piece of franchise history, and for that reason, many still look back at it fondly, despite their disdain for certain aspects of the film (i.e. Ewoks).
Nevertheless, regardless of whether you love Episode VI or hate it, there are plenty of fun facts about the film that even the most dedicated of fans might not be aware of. With that in mind, here are 10 things you might not know about Return of the Jedi:
Yoda’s Greater Purpose
Yoda, who was first introduced in Episode V, was originally omitted from the script of Return of the Jedi. However, the character was inserted into the narrative by George Lucas when he determined Yoda would be the most suitable one to confirm to Luke Skywalker that Darth Vader was, in fact, his father. He came to this decision after meeting with a child psychologist during the making of the film, who told Lucas that unless it was outright stated that Vader was Luke’s father in Episode VI, younger viewers would likely dismiss the revelation from Episode V as a lie.Advertisement
Lando’s (Almost) Greater Purpose
Much like we see with major motion pictures today, some cast members were given fake scripts during the filming of Return of the Jedi to prevent plot points from leaking out to the public ahead of the film’s release. One notable piece of misdirection, which did end up being leaked, was that Lando Calrissian was the main hero of the film. In fact, in the fake draft, he would have ended up being the “last hope” that Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi allude to in The Empire Strikes Back.
Whether he’s deserving of the title or not, the enigmatic bounty hunter Boba Fett is arguably one of the most popular characters from the Original Trilogy, save for the main cast. Few could have predicted this visually striking, yet largely useless character would have captivated audiences, and that includes George Lucas himself, who admitted he had no idea Boba Fett had become so popular. Had he realized this, Lucas said he would have given Boba Fett a far more noble death scene, rather than having him knocked into the Sarlacc Pit by a partially blinded Han Solo.
It’s a… Trick?
Perhaps the most quotable line from Return of the Jedi is the Mon Calamari Admiral Ackbar exclaiming, “It’s a trap!” upon discovering that, contrary to the Rebel Alliance’s intel, the second Death Star’s weapons are fully operational. However, in the original script, the line was actually supposed to be “It’s a trick!” After negative test screenings, the line was then changed during post-production, and for good reason, too; “It’s a trick!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
For Return of the Jedi, the scenes taking place on the forest moon of Endor were shot on location in the dense redwood forests of California. This, however, proved to be a rather risky endeavor for Peter Mayhew’s Chewbacca. When the cameras weren’t rolling, Mayhew had to be escorted by crewmembers due to the very real possibility that he could be shot by hunters mistaking him for Bigfoot.
May Contain Brief Nudity
As recently as 2017, George Lucas has gone on the record to say that Star Wars is a film for 12-year-olds, but just because he envisioned it as a family-friendly franchise doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent wholesome. In Jabba’s palace, when the Twi’lek dancer is thrown into the Rancor pit, her top comes partially undone. As such, viewers who pause the film at just the right moment are able to see the actress’ breast, as the shot wasn’t edited out of the final cut or the subsequent re-releases.
Darth Vader’s Unmasking – Part I
Issuing fake scripts wasn’t the only precautionary measure Lucasfilm took for Return of the Jedi. One of the film’s most heavily guarded secrets was the unmasking of Darth Vader, and to help preserve the integrity of the sequence, actor Sebastian Shaw wasn’t told what he would be doing until he arrived on-set. In fact, when he was asked by his good friend and fellow actor Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine, what he was doing, he told him that all he know was that it had something to do with science fiction.
Darth Vader’s Unmasking – Part II
Sebastian Shaw wasn’t the only one kept in the dark about Darth Vader’s unmasking. David Prowse, who was the actor inside the Darth Vader suit throughout the Original Trilogy, was apparently oblivious to the fact that, when his character was finally unmasked, Lucasfilm would use a different actor’s face. This, among other things, has led to a very strained relationship between Prowse and Lucasfilm that remains to this very day.
Ewoks vs. Wookiees
It’s no secret that the adorable, pint-sized, furry little Ewoks are one of the main points of contention hardcore fans have with Return of the Jedi. Seen as nothing more than a simple cash grab, these cuddly little critters appealed to children but failed to resonate with more mature viewers. However, they weren’t always intended to be in the film. Originally, the denizens of Endor were going to be Wookiees, but this was changed during pre-production. In fact, some believe the very word “Ewok” was actually derived from the word “Wookiee.”
The Birth of Coruscant
Coruscant, the home of the Jedi Council and eventually the capital city of the Empire, factored heavily into the prequels, and it can also be seen following the Rebel’s victory in Return of the Jedi during the celebration sequence. However, the only reason it wasn’t included in the 1983 theatrical release was that George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan simply couldn’t agree on a name for the city. Then, in 1991’s Heir to the Empire novel by Timothy Zahn, the planet was dubbed Coruscant, and it was later added into the film for the 1997 Special Edition.