Star Wars is one of the biggest franchises in film history, which makes it hard to imagine what went down during its more humble beginnings. The latest installment, The Force Awakens, has already surpassed Titanic at the domestic box office (chances are it will soon beat Avatar’s record), and has already raked in an astounding $1.3 billion globally. But way back in the 1970s, nobody had a clue what a cultural juggernaut it would be. Here are some of facts that you probably didn’t know about the original Star Wars trilogy.
1. Luke and Leia Didn’t Always Use Stunt Doubles
Stunt doubles weren’t used in the scene where Luke and Leia swing to safety across the Death Star chasm. Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill performed that swashbuckling feat themselves in just one take.
2. R2-D2 Was Supposed to Be Inteligible
In early script drafts, R2-D2 could speak English, and spouted a rather foul vocabulary. While all of R2’s English words were removed and replaced by blips and bleeps, many of C-3PO’s reactions to his utterances were left in.
3. Peter Cushing Wore Slippers During Filming
Peter Cushing played the intimidating Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars trilogy, but out of frame he was wearing slippers the whole time since he found his boots to be uncomfortable.
4. Oops: Fox’s President Didn’t Secure the Rights From George Lucas
Alan Ladd, Jr., the then president of Fox, had to resign after it became apparent that he didn’t secure merchandising or sequel rights from George Lucas. George ended up taking Raiders of the Lost Ark to Paramount, their rival studio, and that, too, turned into a rather successful franchise.
5. Carrie Fisher Had Some Wardrobe Malfunctions
Carrie Fisher’s famous gold bikini wasn’t as comfortable as it was impressive. She didn’t wear any tape to keep herself in, which means she did a lot of flashing the cast and crew. This required a lot of reshoots to keep her nipples out of the finished product. Eventually, they started taping her breasts down with gaffer tape, as her revealing costume did not allow for any lingerie to be worn. She later quipped, “As we all know, there is no underwear in space.”
6. Not Every Studio Wanted Star Wars
Before Star Wars was picked up by 20th Century Fox, it was pitched to and passed by United Artists, Universal and Disney. The latter, of course, ended up purchasing the franchise years later, for an impressive 4 billion dollars. Bet they’re all kicking themselves over that now.
7. A New Hope Took Three Years of Pre-Production
1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope (the full title of the original Episode IV) went through three years of pre-production and wasn’t even ready when the time came to actually start shooting. There were tons of issues with everything from costumes to travel. Some of the crew had to triple up in hotel rooms. However, all the struggles were worth it as the super-successful film set the gold standard for visual effects in a pre-CGI world.
8. The First Version Had Tons of Edits
It is estimated that the final product of the original Star Wars film only shows 30 to 40 percent of the original shots. It went through lots of reshoots and massive editing to whittle things down to the final product. We wonder what magic was left on the cutting room floor.
9. Yoda Was Almost a Monkey
The original concept for Yoda was not the familiar puppet that he is today, but a monkey who would wear a mask. It’s probably a good thing that idea got scrapped.
10. Star Wars Kept Marvel Afloat
In 1977, Marvel released a comic book adaption of the Star Wars film, which ended up saving Marvel in a time when their sales were low.
11. One Minor Character Got a Big Backstory
In Episode V, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, there’s a scene where a bunch of extras flee Cloud City. One of them can be seen with what fans think looks like an ice cream maker. This minor miner has gained cult status is affectionately referred to as “Ice Cream Maker Guy” by uber-fans. He’s been given a name, Willrow Hood, and now it is assumed that he is a rebel agent safeguarding an important data cache. The character was even made into an action figure in 2009 because of his popularity.
12. One Sequence Took an Entire Month to Film
In Star Wars: Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, the Jabba Palace sequence took an entire month to film. A whopping 90 crew members, 42 extras, 10 puppeteers, nine mimes and 18 principal cast members were involved.
13. The Word “Ewok” is Never Used in the Original Trilogy
The Ewok species is identified in the credits and in the script but, oddly, no character actually ever says the word.
14. The Franchise Has a Running Gag Line
In each movie someone says the line “I have a bad feeling about this” or “I have a very bad feeling about this.”
15. Yoda Has No Species
Whatever Yoda is has never been determined exactly. He’s one of a kind.
16. There Were No Female Fighter Pilots
In the original trilogy, there were female fighter pilots written into the script but none of them were included in the first films. The latest trilogy seems to be making up for that.
17. Lucas Thought it Would Flop
George Lucas was so sure the first Star Wars would bomb that instead of attending the film’s premiere, he went to Hawaii with his buddy Steven Spielberg, where they sparked the idea for their collaboration Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
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