Fact: Star Wars is awesome. Fact: Lightsabers are one of the best fictional weapons ever invented. Fact: Han Solo and Princess Leia both rock and may be the ultimate power couple. Fact: Stormtroopers have terrible aim. Fact: The Star Wars franchise has had an outsized cultural impact since the first movie was released in 1977.
These are all obvious truths about Star Wars that any fan already knows. So, are there any surprising pieces of trivia and lore left to discover?
Of course there are! Every Star Wars episode, or even the whole Star Wars franchise, has countless facts and stories. From the funny to the truly surprising, let’s break down some things you may not have known about your favorite franchise. Or maybe you already do know them…the force may be strong in you.
#1 Many People Thought Star Wars Would Flop, Including George Lucas
Obviously, George Lucas believed in Star Wars to some extent or he never would have made it. But the early buzz about the film was not good. The studio didn’t believe in it. Lucas’ friends didn’t believe in it. And, at some point, neither did Lucas.
What convinced him things were going to work out? According to Lucas himself, despite a strong opening box office, he didn’t believe the movie would be a hit until he got a call from Alan Ladd Jr., president of 20th Century Fox, that confirmed the film’s continued success. Lucas was vacationing in Hawaii, but after the call, he turned on the TV to a news report about his movie’s impressive performance.
One person who did believe in Star Wars: Steven Spielberg. He told Lucas beforehand that he thought the movie would be huge. He was also in Hawaii with Lucas.
- Lucas recalled this story during an interview with Stephen Colbert in 2015.
This is definitely a Star Wars story that lived to prove some people wrong.
#2 Anthony Daniels Could Not Sit Down While Dressed as C-3PO
This one falls into the funny Star Wars facts category. Apparently, the suit that actor Anthony Daniels wore to play the droid C-3PO does not allow him to take a chair. The cumbersome nature of the suit could also explain some of C-3PO’s distinctive gait.
In scenes where C-3PO is seated, you do not see him below the waist. This is because Daniels had to sit without the suit on and then be dressed in the top portion for these scenes.
- Another fun C-3PO fact is that the suit worn in the original trilogy wasn’t all gold. His right leg was actually silver.
#3 James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher Met While Filming…The Big Bang Theory
James Earl Jones is Darth Vader, right? Well, kind of. While Jones lent his distinctive voice to the role of the evil Darth Vader, he never actually stepped foot into the Vader outfit. The physicality of Vader was provided by bodybuilder David Prowse. That means Jones never needed to be on set so he and Carrie Fisher never actually met.
That is until they both guest-starred on an episode of The Big Bang Theory.
They both appeared in The Convention Conundrum during the show’s seventh season. And when they finally met, what greeting did the two legends share? Fisher, upon seeing Jones, raised her arms in the air and yelled: “Daddy!”
- Another person James Earl Jones reportedly never had occasion to meet is the very man who provided the body of Darth Vader, David Prowse.
#4 Harrison Ford Tried to Destroy the Millenium Falcon
Han Solo nearly destroyed his ship, the Millenium Falcon, many times throughout the Star Wars films through acts of bravery (and, sometimes, recklessness). However, it may have been in the most peril from the actor who portrayed Han Solo.
According to Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford got so angry one day on set that he tried to take a saw to the iconic ship. Since the actual ship is made of wood, Ford’s attack could have been fatal. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the Millenium Falcon lived to fly another day.
#5 Yoda Went Through Many Iterations
We all know Yoda. Little green guy, talks in riddles, and occasionally has some crazy lightsaber fights. But that wasn’t always the case. According to Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner, the original idea for Yoda was “9-feet tall with a huge mosaic beard.”
However, Giant Yoda never came to pass and they decided to go small and green and created the Yoda we all love today.
Kershner also went into the original idea for how they would have Yoda move: train a monkey and put it in a Yoda costume, then animate the lips.
- Kershner was also not overly impressed with the philosophical teachings of Yoda, describing them as “quite simplistic” and “not very profound.” Harsh, his criticism is.
#6 Return of the Jedi’s Original Ending Would Have Been Very Different
Scripts go through a lot of changes, so putting too much stock into an early version of a film’s ending can be silly. Still, when an ending would have changed the whole direction of an ongoing franchise, it’s worth mentioning.
You're probably wondering what the ending of this Star Wars film would've looked like. Originally, Return of the Jedi didn’t have quite the happy ending we’re accustomed to. Instead of Darth Vader redeeming himself, the original version had Luke slaying Vader…and taking up the mantle himself. This switch to the dark side would then have put Luke in direct conflict with his sister Leia and the rebels. This would've definitely been an interesting ending to the Star Wars movie. And you thought the ending of Empire Strikes Back was dark.
Another dark note from the original ending: Han Solo was slated to die.
- While there is a full-circle feeling to the idea of Luke Skywalker falling into the same trap his father once did, considering we eventually get this story with the prequel trilogy (and to some extent with Kylo Ren in the newest trilogy), it’s likely for the best that Return of the Jedi provided the ending it did.
#7 R2-D2 Was an Ewok
Okay, R2-D2 was a droid, not an Ewok, but the actor who played R2-D2 pulled double duty during the filming of Return of the Jedi. While the actor played R2-D2 in all of the original and prequel films, he also played the Ewok Paploo during Return of the Jedi.
#8 Profit Sharing Between Lucas and Spielberg
As discussed earlier, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg were friends—and Spielberg was one of the only people to believe in Star Wars before its release. Spielberg was also working on his own movie during the time Lucas was working on Star Wars: Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Lucas, during a set visit to Spielberg’s movie, was convinced that Spielberg’s film would be a blockbuster that would dwarf the box office of Star Wars. In response, Spielberg made a deal with his friend: he would trade 2.5% of his points on Close Encounters for 2.5% of Lucas’s points on Star Wars.
- Star Wars went on to make $775 million at the global box office.
- Close Encounters was also a success, though not to anywhere near as large an extent. It made $304 million.
- Adjusted for inflation, this trade netted Spielberg around $40 million.
#9 Roll the Dice
During The Last Jedi, Luke retrieves a pair of golden dice from the Millenium Falcon and, by the end of the film, passes the dice along to his sister Leia. These dice, coming from the Millenium Falcon, are a symbol of their fallen comrade (and Leia’s love) Han Solo. But, you can be forgiven if you were a little confused by this detail as the dice had not appeared in a Star Wars film since they were originally shown in A New Hope, 38 years before their reappearance in The Last Jedi.
#10 Carrie Fisher Drowned in Moonlight, Strangled by Her Own Bra
Did you know there’s no underwear in space? According to Carrie Fisher, that’s the justification George Lucas used for not allowing her to wear a bra under her dress while filming.
Of course, there was more to his explanation than just this simple statement, as Fisher recounted in her memoir Wishful Drinking, “What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn't—so you get strangled by your own bra.”
Fisher found this story amusing enough that she also said that she wanted her obituary to be that she “drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
- Sadly, Fisher’s actual cause of death was a heart attack in 2016. She was 60 years old.
#11 Star Wars = $$$$
Between all the Star Wars films, estimates say that the box office alone has generated around $10 billion. That doesn’t count any of the Star Wars TV shows, books, toys, or other franchise-related products. Star Wars may take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but in this galaxy, Star Wars is a brand you can take to the bank.
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Do or do not. There is no try.
Insider. George Lucas was convinced 'Star Wars' would flop and refused to believe it was a hit until he got a call telling him to turn on the news. https://www.insider.com/when-george-lucas-knew-star-wars-was-a-hit
Reader’s Digest. 25 Star Wars Facts Only True Fans Know. https://www.rd.com/list/star-wars-facts/
USA Today. Anthony Daniels confirms it: C-3PO's always had a silver leg... 'til now. https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2015/12/15/anthony-daniels-c3po-star-wars/77341766/
Giant Freakin Robot. Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher And James Earl Jones Only Met A Few Months Ago. https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/scifi/star-wars-carrie-fisher-james-earl-jones-met-months.html
Showbiz Cheat Sheet. ‘Star Wars’: Mark Hamill Said Harrison Ford ‘Got So Mad’ He Tried to Destroy the Millennium Falcon Set. https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/mark-hamill-said-harrison-ford-got-so-mad-he-tried-to-destroy-the-millenium-falcon-while-filming-star-wars.html/
Entertainment Weekly. The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner was a true-life Obi-Wan Kenobi. https://ew.com/movies/2017/04/28/star-wars-empire-strikes-back-irvin-kershner/
Comic Book Resources. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi's DARKEST Ending Was Awful. https://www.cbr.com/star-wars-return-of-the-jedi-darkest-ending-awful/
IMDb. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi Full Cast & Crew. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086190/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm
Time. George Lucas Lost a $40 Million Bet to Steven Spielberg Over Star Wars. https://time.com/43618/george-lucas-steven-spielberg-star-wars-bet/
Vanity Fair. Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Meaning Behind Han’s Golden Dice. https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/12/star-wars-last-jedi-what-are-the-gold-dice-millennium-falcon-han-solo-history-meaning
Vox. Carrie Fisher dead at 60, strangled by own bra (is the obituary Carrie Fisher wanted). https://www.vox.com/culture/2016/12/27/14094400/carrie-fisher-dead-obituary-request-strangled-bra
Investopedia. Why Is the Star Wars Franchise So Valuable? https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/102215/why-star-wars-franchise-so-valuable.asp