There’s never been a better time to be a “Star Wars” fan.
The franchise is currently dominating the pop culture landscape, with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hitting theaters December 2017 and the Young Han Solo movie following in 2019.
To help fill the wait until those movies finally hit, here are 11 interesting facts you might not know about the “Star Wars” movies.1. While Sir Alec Guinness was never shy about voicing his disdain for “Star Wars,” the original movies made him a very rich man. Guinness’ contract granted him 2% of the box office receipts, or close to $100 million when all was said and done.
2. By contrast, James Earl Jones received a paltry $7500 for his work voicing Darth Vader in the original film. Still, it wasn’t a bad gig considering that Jones wound up recording all of his lines in a few hours.3. Ewan McGregor isn’t the first member of his family to appear in the Star Wars movies. His uncle, Denis Lawson, played Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in the Original Trilogy.
4. Everyone knows that the fuzzy teddy bears on Endor are called Ewoks, but that word is never actually uttered in any of the “Star Wars” movies.5. The Skywalker family was originally named “Starkiller” in early drafts of the “Star Wars” screenplay. The “Starkiller” name has been used in various other pieces of Star Wars lore, finally making its movie debut in “The Force Awakens” thanks to Starkiller Base.
6. The working title for “Return of the Jedi” during filming was “Blue Harvest.” This is a reference to “Red Harvest,” the 1929 novel that inspired the classic samurai film “Yojimbo,” which itself was a major influence on “Star Wars.7. Most fans probably know that Mark Hamill’s face was scarred in a car accident prior to filming “The Empire Strikes Back,” which is why the Wampa attack was added to the script. But that wasn’t the only time Lucas had to account for one of Hamill’s injuries.
8. The actor held his breath for so long while filming the trash compactor scene in “Star Wars” that he burst a blood vessel in his face. Lucas had to rearrange the scene in order to hide that injury.9. Paramount Pictures changed the subtitle of “Star Trek II” from “The Vengeance of Khan” to “The Wrath of Khan” after learning that Episode VI would be titled “Revenge of the Jedi.” Unfortunately for them, George Lucas wound up switching to “Return of the Jedi” during post-production.
10. Both Jar-Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best and C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels appear out of costume as background extras in the cantina scene in “Attack of the Clones.”11. Yoda went through several name changes during the course of writing “The Empire Strikes Back.” At one point, it was established that his full name is “Minch Yoda,” and before that he was known simply as “Buffy.”
12. A number of big-name directors were considered to helm “Return of the Jedi,” including David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and even Steven Spielberg. In the end, Lucas settled with a less conventional choice in the form of Welsh director Richard Marquand, who caught Lucas’ eye with his 1981 film “Eye of the Needle.”13. Kenner had to cancel its original Boba Fett action figure because the rocket-firing feature was deemed a choking hazard. Very few prototypes exist, making it one of the holy grails in the toy collecting community.
14. Before Frank Oz was brought onboard to bring Yoda to life via puppetry, Lucas considered (*rolls eyes) relying on a trained monkey to play the elderly Jedi Master.15. If you’ve ever wondered why Darth Vader actor David Prowse never shows up at Star Wars Celebration or similar events, it’s because he’s been banned after a series of disagreements with George Lucas. Apparently, the two never got along while filming the original movies.
16. Lucas squabbled with the Directors Guild of America over his decision not to include opening credits in the original “Star Wars.” Lucas ultimately opted to leave the Guild, and he more or less cut ties with the traditional Hollywood machine after that point.
17. One of the early drafts of the “Return of the Jedi” screenplay ended with Luke donning his father’s mask and declaring himself to be the new Darth Vader.
18. That abandoned twist did sort of make its way into the Expanded Universe comics. The mini-series “Dark Empire” saw Luke fall to the Dark Side after a cloned Emperor Palpatine returned to threaten the galaxy.19. Many of the sets in “The Phantom Menace” had to be rebuilt after the designers realized Liam Neeson was too tall to fit through the doorways.
20. For some reason, Yoda’s feet change shape over the course of the “Star Wars” saga. In “Phantom Menace,” Yoda has three toes on each foot. In every other film, however, he has four.21. The Prequels were so CG-heavy that Lucasfilm never actually constructed any physical suits of armor for the Clonetroopers. They were created entirely via digital effects.
22. The tiny Pacific nation of Niue actually accepts collectible Star Wars coins as legal tender.23. If you aren’t watching the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels,” you might not know that Darth Maul actually survived his apparent death at the end of “The Phantom Menace.” Maul returned to continue his feud with Obi-Wan Kenobi during the height of the Clone Wars.
24. Many of the alien dialects in the movies actually have roots in real-world languages. For example, the Jawas speak a variation of Zulu, while the Ewoks speak a mixture of Nepalese and Tibetan.25. Grand Moff Tarkin actor Peter Cushing found his costume’s military boots very uncomfortable, so he wound up filming most of his scenes while wearing a pair of fuzzy slippers instead.
26. The Tantive IV (below), the ship carrying Princess Leia and the droids in the opening moments of “Star Wars,” is based on the original concept design for the Millennium Falcon.
27. Among Jabba’s many henchman in “Return of the Jedi,” there’s a trio known as Klaatu, Barada and Nikto. Those names are a reference to the shutdown code in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (above).
28. Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator in “The Phantom Menace” was actually just a re-purposed Gillette shaving razor. Don’t believe us? See for yourself below:
29. Acclaimed thespian Orson Welles (above) was among those originally considered to voice Darth Vader. Ultimately, Lucas decided Welles’ voice was too recognizable.
30. There’s a background extra during the escape from Cloud City in “The Empire Strikes Back” who appears to be carrying an ice cream maker. Fans have since developed an elaborate back-story for this character, casting him as a Rebel spy carrying vital information to the Alliance.31. An early draft of the “Return of the Jedi” script featured both Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi returning to life to assist Luke in overthrowing the Emperor.
32. At one point, Lucas considered relying on an all-Japanese cast for the original Star Wars, reflecting the the heavy influence Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films had on the movies. Lucas even considered Kurosawa mainstay Toshiro Mifune to play Obi-Wan Kenobi.33. Artist Ralph McQuarrie created concept art for a medieval-style castle for Darth Vader that would have appeared in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Obviously those designs were scrapped, but they did inspire Vader’s Mustafar fortress (above) seen in “Rogue One.”
34. Believe it or not, the opening crawl in the original “Star Wars” was created entirely through practical effects. Lucas and his team had to film while moving die-cut letters across a black paper background, and the whole process took hours to pull off.
35. Darth Maul actor Ray Park had his own idea about who should play Anakin Skywalker in “Attack of the Clones.” Park sparred with an Indiana stockbroker named Jeff Garner and, despite Garner’s complete lack of acting experience, forwarded his name to Lucasfilm.
36. Hayden Christiansen actually wore the Darth Vader suit in the villain’s final appearance in “Revenge of the Sith.” He was forced to walk on stilts in order to properly convey the character’s imposing height.37. “Empire Strikes Back” had plenty of problems with production running behind schedule and going over-budget. Some of those problems were exacerbated by “The Shining” director Stanley Kubrick, who took over some of Lucas’ studio space after a fire at Elstree Studios.
38. Mark Hamill campaigned for Lucas to introduce a love interest for Luke in “Return of the Jedi.” Lucas declined, but Luke did eventually gain a wife and family in the Expanded Universe novels.39. R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker was originally slated to play lead Ewok Wicket W. Warrick. But after Baker fell ill from food poisoning, the part shifted to Warwick Davis instead. Davis has gone on to play a number of characters throughout the series.
40. Lucas is at least somewhat aware of the disdain many Star Wars fans have for Jar Jar Binks. He even jokingly subtitled “Episode II” as “Jar Jar’s Big Adventure” for a while.