10 Things You Might Not Know About The Empire Strikes Back

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Released in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back is arguably the most popular film in the entire Star Wars franchise. Still, despite its immense popularity, there are quite a few fun facts about Episode V that even the most hardcore fans might not be aware of.

That being said, here are 10 things you might not know about The Empire Strikes Back:

  1. Lightsaber Lobbing

    A particularly classic early shot in Empire is when we find Luke trapped in the Wampa’s lair and he uses the Force to retrieve his lightsaber – the first time we see him successfully use the Force in this manner. To film this scene, though, Mark Hamill (obviously) didn’t will the weapon towards him but rather threw it away from himself, and the film was then run in reverse. Ironically, we see Luke actually toss his lightsaber away during his first scene in The Last Jedi.

  2. Yoda: Jedi Master and Oscar Nominee?

    It’s no secret that Frank Oz delivered a stellar performance as the voice actor and puppeteer of Yoda. However, his performance didn’t just resonate with fans but also with George Lucas, who was so moved by it that he lobbied hard to try to get Oz an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Unfortunately, the Academy didn’t feel that a puppeteer was a real actor, but it all worked out in the end, as Oz couldn’t have cared less about a potential Oscar nod.

  3. Asteroid Belts (and Shoes)

    In the theatrical version of the film, one of the asteroids the Millennium Falcon encounters while running from the Empire is actually a shoe. This is apparently because the VFX team became so frustrated by Lucas’ repeated requests to redo the scene that one of them threw their shoe into the shot out of frustration. Sadly, this was corrected in later editions of the film.

  4. Han Snowlo

    Although several crates of snow were brought to Norway for the Hoth scenes, they were hardly necessary, as blizzard conditions were rampant during filming. In fact, at one point, the weather was so bad that the train route the actors used to travel to the set had to be closed down. As such, Harrison Ford had to ride to the set via snowplow on at least one occasion.

  5. Sesame Wars: The Muppets Strike Back

    In a fun bit of cross-promotion, several Star Wars characters made guest appearances in episodes of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show in 1980 – both of which Frank Oz worked on. R2-D2 and C-3PO appeared in two episodes of the former, while Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca did so in an episode of the latter. 

  6. Lando Solo

    The decision to cast a black actor for the role of Lando Calrissian apparently stemmed from the fact that Lucas originally envisioned Han Solo as a black man before ultimately casting Harrison Ford in the role. Ironically, Billy Dee Williams, who went on to play Lando, had previously auditioned to play Han in A New Hope.

  7. Daddy Drama

    To maintain the secrecy of Empire’s big twist, only five people were entrusted with the knowledge that Darth Vader was Luke’s father: George Lucas himself, Mark Hamill, Darth Vader voice actor James Earl Jones, director Irvin Kershner, and writer Lawrence Kasdan. Not even Darth Vader body actor David Prowse was privy to this information, as the line he said to Hamill while shooting, which was later dubbed over by Jones, was “Obi-Wan killed your father.” Prowse took exception to Lucas withholding this information from him, as he said knowing it beforehand would have likely affected his body language while they were shooting.

  8. Daddy Drama, Part Deux

    Those in the know are likely aware that it wasn’t always intended for Darth Vader to be revealed as Luke’s father. However, what some may not know is that in Leigh Brackett’s original draft of the script, Anakin Skywalker (an entirely different character than Darth Vader) was going to appear as a Force ghost who helped train Luke to be a Jedi. In later revisions, once it was decided that Vader and Anakin would be one in the same, the original Anakin concept was divided between Yoda (the one who trains Luke) and Obi-Wan (the Force ghost). 

  9. ‘I Know’

    Contrary to popular believe, Han responding to Leia saying she loves him by telling her “I know” wasn’t actually ad-libbed. Originally, Han’s line was “Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back,” but before the scene was shot, Ford and Kershner decided on the revision. The reason? Well, funny you should ask…

  10. Han No-Show

    Han saying, “Just remember that, Leia, because I'll be back” was scrapped (at least in part) because, at the time, Ford wasn’t entirely certain he would be back for Return of the Jedi. It’s widely known that Ford had been lobbying to have Han killed off as early as A New Hope, so just in case he really didn’t complete the trilogy, not only was his exchange with Leia revised but his character was frozen in carbonite, essentially giving Lucasfilm an easy out if Ford decided not to sign on for Episode VI