We’re now only days away from the release of a little film called “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The hype is real, but there’s not much fans can do but wait patiently until opening night finally arrives.
Perhaps we can help pass the time a little. We’ve put together a list of 15 interesting facts about the original trilogy that even hardcore Star Wars geeks might not know. Whether they involve the troubled development of these films or some of the oddball minor characters that appear onscreen, these tidbits reveal just how unusual life is in a galaxy far, far away.
“Star Wars” (1977)
1. Peter Cushing (above) might have been intimidating as Grand Moff Tarkin, but only because his feet were never shown in the frame. Cushing found his boots uncomfortable and insisted on wearing slippers instead.
2. Lucas pitched the project to United Artists, Universal and even Disney before finding a home at 20th Century Fox. Disney could have saved themselves $4 billion if they had just locked up the rights to the franchise from the beginning.
3. The first film underwent extensive re-shoots and edits. According to the magazine Star Wars Insider, only 30-40% of the footage found in the final version was present in the original cut.
4.Harrison Ford‘s one complaint about flying the Millennium Falcon? The cockpit switches. They didn’t stay in place when he flipped them, so, according to EW, the production designers took this note to heart when designing the new cockpit for Han Solo’s iconic ship, and they made sure quality switches were installed. During his first day inside the cockpit, Ford tested out each switch to make sure they stayed in place when flipped. (And they did.)
5. Marvel began releasing a comic book adaptation of the film in May 1977, which eventually transitioned into showcasing the ongoing adventures of Luke, Han, Leia and the rest. The comic lasted many years and is largely credited with saving Marvel from financial ruin during a period of slumping sales.
“The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
6. Rather than being an intricately designed puppet, the original plan was for Yoda to be played by a monkey wearing a mask.
7. The reptilian bounty hunter Bossk wears a spacesuit that was actually borrowed from a 1966 episode of “Doctor Who” called “The Tenth Planet.”
8. Fellow bounty hunter IG-88 (pictured) was also built from spare parts. His head is actually one of the drink dispensers seen in the Mos Eisley Cantina from the original film.
9. Fox’s then-President Alan Ladd, Jr. was forced to resign after the studio discovered that he didn’t secure merchandising and sequel rights from Lucas. In retaliation, Lucas brought “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to rival studio Paramount.
10. One of the many extras seen fleeing Cloud City is carrying what looks to be an ice cream maker. This minor character has become a source of fascination with fans, and he’s acquired a backstory of his own as a Rebel agent safeguarding an important data cache.
“Return of the Jedi” (1983)
11. Many fans know that this sequel was going to be called “Revenge of the Jedi” until Lucas changed his mind at the last minute. But did you know “Star Trek II’s” subtitle was changed from “The Revenge of Khan” to “The Wrath of Khan” to avoid confusing the two franchises?
12. Three of the guards on Jabba’s sail barge are named Klaatu, Barada and Nikto. Those names are an homage to classic sci-fi film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”
13. This sequel was codenamed “Blue Harvest” during production to help maintain secrecy. The title was an homage to “Red Harvest,” a film that heavily inspired Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epic “Yojimbo,” which itself heavily inspired the Star Wars films.
14. Lucas originally had darker plans in mind for the ending of this sequel. Earlier script drafts featured Luke claiming the mantle of Darth Vader for himself, and Han and the Rebel troops perishing on Endor.
15. Both David Lynch and David Cronenberg were approached to direct this sequel. Lynch wound up directing the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” instead — which clearly was the best call.