20 Facts You Didn't Know About Star Wars

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Photo credit: Lucasfilm In a handful of months, we'll have another installment in what may be the greatest space saga ever told (Blasts fired, Trekkies!). For now, let's wind the clocks back to a long, long time ago, and check out 20 fairly obscure tidbits about the Star Wars films.

  1. Darth Vader is made up of three people. (And one of them is officially banned from Lucasfilm events)

    Photo credit: Lucas Arts The Darth Vader we know and love is composed of the voice of James Earl Jones, the body of British Weightlifting champion David Prowse, and the face of Sebastian Shaw. During the original trilogy, the majority of the time Vader is onscreen is played by Prowse who was upset that his voice would be dubbed over by Jones. Prowse's strained relations with Lucas hit a fever pitch when he accidentally appeared in an anti-Lucas documentary, The People vs. George Lucas. Since then, Prowse has been officially and permanently banned from any Lucasfilm and Star Wars-related events.

  2. Darth Vader was supposed to be voiced by someone else.

    Photo credit: Lifetimetv.co.uk

    Can you imagine Darth Vader without his iconic James Earl Jones voice? When Lucas was dreaming of his first Star Wars film, he was dreaming big. In an interview, Jones revealed that Lucas' original choice for Vader's voice was none other than legendary actor Orson Welles of Citizen Kane fame.  Eventually, Lucas realized that Welles' voice would be too recognizable for Vader and audiences might get distracted. That was when he contacted Jones for the job.

  3. Yoda has the same voice actor as Ms Piggy

    Photo credit: Muppet Wiki

    Legendary muppet creator Jim Henson may have overseen the design and creation of Yoda, but the actual build was made by a member of Lucasfilm productions.

    Henson's close friend and veteran voice actor for the Muppets, Frank Oz, supplies the voice of Yoda. He also voices Ms Piggy, Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear, and Animal.

  4. No one is sure what species Yoda is.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    After six films and many, many galaxies explored, you'd expect to see other characters that look like Yoda, right? No? As it turns out, Yoda may well be the only one from his species, and even his particular breed of alien remains a mystery. 

  5. In the original trilogy, it took four puppeteers to operate Jabba the Hutt

    Photo credit: Cinetropolis

    Jabba was originally made of a hard fiberglass shell covered in a latex skin, large enough to fit three people inside. Two people worked the arms and body, one worked the head, eyes, tongue, and mouth, and another one worked from outside Jabba via remote control. Jabba was the most expensive creature created for Star Wars. 

  6. Luke Skywalker was originally named Starkiller. And was supposed to be female.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    In the earlier drafts of the first Star Wars movie, Lucas was playing around with numerous names for what will ultimately become the hero of his films. His original idea was to have a girl named Starkiller rise up the Jedi ranks and bring balance to the Force. Executives at 20th Century Fox weren't too hot with the idea. Lucas eventually switched his hero's gender and name and a New Hope was born.

  7. The Ewok race is never named in the films.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    Lucas created the adorable race of teddy bear-looking primitive hunter-gatherers as a counter-point to tall, technologically advanced Wookies. Production notes and the expanded universe recognize these li'l vicious cutie pies as Ewoks, named after the Native American Miwok tribe who lived in the area the crew was shooting in. However, the name of their race is never mentioned in the films.   

  8. Harrison Ford used to be a carpenter before acting in Star Wars. He doesn't do any woodworking anymore.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    In his AMA, Harrison Ford told the story of how he was primarily a carpenter while acting in odd films. After appearing in George Lucas' previous film American Graffiti, Lucas approached him with the role for Han Solo. Ford has acted in numerous movies since then, but admits to have lost the time and practice necessary for woodworking. 

  9. To this day, Mark Hamill gets ribbed for his line about the power converters.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    In hisAMA, Mark Hamill reveals that he still gets teased for the one line in Star Wars: A New Hope where Luke tries to weasel out of cleaning a couple of droids to pick up power converters in Toshi station."I get ribbed for that line because it was so whiney. And I remember at the time, I had to make it as juvenile as possible so that I can show how Luke matures later. So it should be embarrassing. It should be whiney and childish. But boy, has it come back to haunt me." 

  10. Studio Executives wanted Chewie to cover up.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    Mark Hamill noted that studio executives were concerned about Chewbacca's nakedness and were pushing for a character re-design to at least cover up the Wookie's lower body. Fortunately, more logical minds prevailed and no one decided to give the films an R rating for Wookie nakedness.

  11. Rapper Tupac could have been Mace Windu.

    Photo credit: blackcelebritygiving.com

    Rolling Stone reports that rapper Tupac Shakur met with George Lucas to read for the role of Mace Windu in 1996. An engineer from Tupac's home studio Death Row Records claims to have spoken to Tupac about his films, and Tupac said he was doing a reading for Lucas for a role of a jedi.

    The role inevitably went to Samuel L. Jackson, but Tupac auditioning for Star Wars just before he died in 1996 may just be plausible given the 1997 release of The Phantom Menace.

  12. George Lucas was not a very good script writer.

    Photo credit: realestate.aol.com

    Star Wars follows the classic narrative arc of the timeless Hero's journey. It uses elements from cowboy films, space operas, pirate stories, and throws in a lot of humor and exploding planets. It may well be one of the greatest films ever made, but George Lucas' scripts may have been more than a bit lacking. Hamill reveals that the scripts rarely gave him any idea how Luke Skywalker should be feeling in particular scenes."I would talk to George about, say, Luke and what he is feeling... 'Should I be jealous that this guy is hitting on the Princess?' George would say, "That's interesting. We'll talk about it later." Which, of course, we never would!"

  13. There is a space disco version of the Star Wars theme, and it was very popular.

    Photo credit: Rodriguez Fine Art Prints

    Star Wars: A New Hope blasted into theaters in 1977 and was an unprecedented cultural hit. 1977 was also the year disco music was flooding dancehalls and climbing radio charts everywhere. Is there any surprise that a disco version of the popular Star Wars theme exists? American music producer Meco arranged the classic movie theme, spliced it with sound effects from the films, and added funky disco beats to create the Star Wars and other Galactic Funk album which held the number 1 spot for disco jams in 2 weeks.  


  14. Han Solo was meant to die but was saved to sell toys.

    Photo credit: mcw toys

    In the original plot for Revenge of the Jedi, Han Solo was supposed to be rescued from cabronite only to die in a blaze of glory in the middle of the film. That was supposed to be a moment of extreme sacrifice, and Luke would be left alone like a lone cowboy riding into the sunsets.

    Before production rolled out, however, Lucas was concerned that Solo's death might impact the sales of Han Solo toys. Would kids really want to buy the action figure of their fallen hero? Instead of risking it, Lucas revised the story and gave Solo a reprieve.

  15. The films' iconic opening text crawl made George Lucas quit the Directors Guild of America.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    Back in the 70s, the Directors Guild of America required all films produced by its members to have an opening credits sequence. Lucas didn't want any of that before the text crawl that brings viewers up to speed with the happenings in the galaxy. Tensions between Lucas the and Guild led to Lucas quitting, and the opening text crawl has since become synonymous to Star Wars films.

  16. Star Wars almost started a real war.

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm

    While Lucas' crew was shooting in Tunisia, the neighboring Libyan government became concerned about the very large military-looking vehicle parked right near their border. Imagine the panicked diplomatic phone calls. After receiving threats of Lybian military mobilization, the Tunisian government politely asked Lucas to find a different space to park their Jawa sandcrawller.

  17. Behind the scenes of Star Wars, a future award-winning filmmaker got his first big break.

    Photo credit: HBO

    Fresh out of high school, a young David Fincher landed a job doing menial tasks and assisting the camera operator for "a bunch of hippies shooting a film in the desert." He was working for Industrial Light & Magic, the Lucas-founded effects company working on Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Years later, Fincher would be working on numerous contemporary classics like Se7en, Fight Club, and The Social Network.

  18. Gary Oldman was supposed to voice General Grievous

    Photo credit: mashable.com

    Who doesn't love Gary Oldman? Check his performance as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman franchise and you'll notice that even the little skin flaps of his neck are acting their hardest. So when news broke that Oldman was going to voice a villain in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,  a lot of people got excited, including Oldman. Unfortunately, Lucas' consistent anti-union practices went against the rules of the Screen Actors' Guild, of which Oldman was a member. Oldman chose to play within guild rules and the film had to go on without him. The voice of General Grievous was played by Matthew Wood.

  19. Yoda has a first name.

    Photo credit: Lucas Arts

    All the special people only go by one name. Like Beyonce. Or Bono. So it stands to reason that Jedi Master Yoda would only have one name, right? Not really. All the other jedi have two names. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Qui-Gon Jin. Mace Windu. It turns out, Lucas had a first name ready for Yoda, but decided to leave it out to reinforce the idea of Yoda's special stature. It was probably for the best. For those wondering, it was Minch. Minch Yoda.  Let that seep in for a minute.

  20. Yoda wasn't supposed to be in Return of the Jedi

    Photo credit: Lucasfilm Ever notice how Yoda doesn't seem to do much in Return of the Jedi? Turns out, he was supposed to do far less. Nothing, in fact. The ol' Jedi Master wasn't supposed to appear in the entire film, but Lucas met with child psychologists to consult the ultimate twist of the film. SPOILER: Vader is Luke's father. Psychologists told Lucas that unless someone trustworthy (like Yoda) affirms Vader's claim to be Luke's father, audience members under 12 years old would assume Vader was lying. Yoda was brought in to affirm Luke's greatest nightmare.