Star Wars fans are a force to be reckoned with. There are so many theories and storylines to follow that it can be hard to keep up with the galaxy far, far away.
You might totally nerd out over the Star Wars franchise, but when it comes down to naming Luke Skywalker’s sister (who isn’t Princess Leia), do you really know everything about it?
Click through this mind-blowing list of Star Wars secrets, production set trivia and crazy revelations from early drafts that only die-hard fans might know.
Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye
From the get-go, Lucas envisioned Star Wars as a saga that would span over three or six movies. Although he had to keep in mind that A New Hope could flop at the box office, and so he hired novelist Alan Dean Foster to write a sequel for the first Star Wars under one condition; it had to be low budget, avoiding big action scenes and expensive effects. The novel was titled Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye, and it was Lucas’ backup plan if Star Wars didn’t make big money. If he had to make it, Splinter would be turned into a movie that reused props and costumes from the old film.
The book follows the story of romantically-linked Luke and Leia who are shipwrecked on a planet called Mimban, where they learn of Kaiburr Crystals. The duo search for these rare stones that acquire the power to amplify the Force, but Darth Vader and the Empire are fast on their tail.
As you know, Star Wars broke the box office and so there was a huge budget for the sequel. Splinter still left fans with storylines that they would like to explore, such as Leia having a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader. Although this never happened, the concept of the Kaiburr Crystals did finally come into play during Rogue One.
Boba Fett’s first appearance wasn’t in Empire
Despite barely making an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back and then falling into a Sarlacc Pit in the opening sequence of Return Of The Jedi, Boba Fett has become a beloved fan-favourite. The true blue pop culture anomaly is so favoured that his helmet is now an iconic Star Wars staple. Yet did you know that Boba Fett’s first appearance was actually in an animated segment in the Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978?
Maybe not, since it is universally hated by Star Wars fans and Lucasfilm doesn’t even acknowledge its existence. Yet Boba Fett starred in one of the only watchable scenes when he became the first action figure to be released from Empire, making fans curious about the mysterious masked bounty hunters’ identity.
Poe Dameron was a short-lived character
In The Force Awakens, it seemed very odd that Finn was convinced of Poe Dameron’s death in the Tie Fighter crash, for him to pop up later without any real explanation. That’s probably because Poe Dameron wasn’t supposed to make a return to the film. In fact, everyone including J.J Abrams had killed off the character, until actor Oscar Isaac himself managed to convince them to let Poe Dameron survive the crash.
The character got his big return from what would have been a very anti-climactic death and ended up being one of the most charismatic figures in the Star Wars universe. This return came with a lot of changes however before the final version was settled upon, including Poe being described as a bounty hunter who would bump into Rey and Finn during their journey and Poe being a Jedi in training.
Liam Neeson didn’t read The Phantom Menace
If you were given the chance to play a major role in a Star Wars movie, you’d take it right? That’s exactly what actor Liam Neeson did when he was offered the role of Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It was set to be the biggest movie in cinematic history. George Lucas was returning to tell the story of Anakin Skywalker, of the Clone Wars, of the Sith resurgence, and of the Jedi. Without even reading the script, Liam Neeson signed the dotted line to join the cast.
Little did he know that this comeback that fans had waited 16 years for would have Neeson delivering bad dialogue about midichlorians and interacting with Jar Jar Binks. So perhaps ultimately it’s a good thing that Neeson didn’t read the script before reading the contract.
Yoda speaks the truth
While Darth Vader revealing that he is in fact Luke’s father might be a staple in pop culture now, it wasn’t so obvious when The Empire Strikes Back was still in cinemas. Fans didn’t believe that Vader was telling the truth, and apparently neither did the cast as even James Earl Jones (who voiced Darth Vader) said in an interview that he believes Vader is lying. To add fuel to the fire, fans sided with Obi-Wan’s story of Vader killing Anakin as the real deal – which we now know is a lie.
George Lucas even consulted a child psychologist who told him that kids under the age of 12 would dismiss Vader’s revelation unless it was clearly shown as fact. Therefore, Lucas relied on a character that fans believed more than Luke, Vader and Kenobi combined: Yoda. The scene where Luke goes back to Yoda and asks him to clarify Vader’s claims, to which Yoda responds “Your father, he is” was added to end any speculations.
Han Solo was killed off in carbonite
Remember when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite and shipped off to Jabba the Hutt as a trophy item? Well this was George Lucas’ way of securing the plot line incase Harrison Ford decided not to sign up for a third movie. This is surprising considering the immense success of A New Hope, but apparently even Lucas didn’t know who would return for another sequel.
Luckily, Ford did sign on for a third film and his character Han Solo played an integral part in defeating the Empire. Return Of The Jedi would have been a very different film had Ford decided to go a different way.
Rey was originally going to be called Kira
Back when Michael Arndt was penning the script, early placeholders for Rey were “Sally” or “Rachel”, which were obviously never meant to stick, while an early version of Kylo Ren was called “Jedi Killer” and Finn was originally named “Sam”. When it was decided that the new trilogy would be led by a female protagonist – something that George Lucas had in concept for a long time – rumours naturally spread that the lead character’s name would be Kira. Disney revealed that her name would be simply “Rey”, so you’ll have to wait until Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi to see if a “Skywalker” or “Kenobi” surname will be attached to “Rey”.
Kylo Ren’s original name is “Starkiller”
We all know Kylo Ren as the new, completely unhinged and troubled villain for the new Star Wars trilogy. Yet in the early drafts of The Force Awakens, the fallen Ben Solo as “Starkiller”. Sound familiar? The name goes way back to when George Lucas originally named Luke “Starkiller” instead of “Skywalker”, which also reinforces rumours that Luke had gone to the dark side by the end of Return Of The Jedi.
Early drafts of The Force Awakens spoke of Starkiller as a dangerously powerful Force wielder who could draw energy from nearby suns to augment and amplify his Force abilities. The character’s costume varied vastly from Kylo’s wraith-esque garb, but there were notes of a torture droid that followed him around, which evolved into Captain Phasma in the new movies. Starkiller might have become Kylo Ren, but audiences still got to see the name Starkiller used in The Force Awakens as the planetary-system-destroying hub of The First Order, Starkiller Base.
“Now, I am Vader” – Luke Skywalker
As if revealing Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father didn’t send the biggest shockwave through the cinematic landscape, George Lucas had another plot twist up his sleeve. That’s right, we’re talking about Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker revealing that they were in fact brother and sister – but it didn’t end there.
Lucas has planned a more sinister twist for Return Of The Jedi that didn’t make it to the final cut. His hat-trick was going to be Luke Skywalker turning into Darth Vader by the end of the third movie. After Vader would come back to the Light and reveal his true face in front of his son, Luke would pick up the helmet and put it on himself, thereby proclaiming “Now, I am Vader”, in a twist that would mirror Vader’s heart wrenching reveal in Empire. As we all know, Lucas didn’t go for this ending and instead chose Luke to be seduced by the Dark Side.
Lando Calrissian: Clone Wars veteran
He’s cool, calm and super smooth, but Lando Calrissian almost wasn’t one of a kind. Lucas planned to make Lando Calrissian one of a thousand clones after Clone Wars was briefly teased back in 1977. He thought it would make sense that Han’s old buddy used to be a clone who fought in the War, and then settled into his own routine once the battle was over.
This reveal was decided against and Clone Wars later showed us that the clones were copy-paste versions of Jango Fett, father of famed bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Lando’s backstory will reveal more in May 2018 when Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover takes over the role from Billy Dee Williams.
George Lucas self-funded The Empire Strikes Back
Did you know that The Empire Strikes Back is technically an indie film? That’s right, one of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters ever made was funded entirely by George Lucas. Not only did 20th Century Fox allow Lucas to retain rights to all sequels, they also gave him access to the ancillary income (money from toys and merchandise sales) because they “saw no future” in the series. It may have been embarrassingly short-sighted for the studio, but Lucas took every dollar made from his movies and built Skywalker Ranch, along with philanthropic programs for film students. The terms changed slightly after Empire due to the budget spiralling out of control, but it’s refreshing to know Lucas had full creative control and so much faith in his production.
NSYNC was in Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones
Star Wars movies are no strangers to cameos, and who wouldn’t want to be in a Star Wars flick? In the past we’ve seen Keira Knightly, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Rose Byrne and many others score cameos or secret roles in the movies, but some didn’t make the final cut. Along with poor special effects and a convoluted storyline, George Lucas decided to add boyband NSYNC into a small scene in Star Wars Episode II at the request of his daughters. Thankfully in the end he waved “Bye Bye Bye” to Justin Timberlake and the boys.
Luke’s floating hand in space
Some very interesting debates and theories have come from the “Force Flashback” that Rey experiences when she comes into contact with the Skywalker lightsaber for the first time. Obi-Wan speaks of Rey’s “first steps”, Darth Vader remnants echo through time and space, and we’re left with a shot of the feared Knights of Ren before Rey is pulled back to reality. Yet did you know that the scene was originally meant to show the journey of the lightsaber and how it got to Maz Kanata?
Early drafts of the script described a much longer sequence that opens with Cloud City and the events of The Empire Strikes Back. The saber falls to the planet’s surface where it is discovered by a villager. It then travels from villager to junk dealer to collector to pirate, all across the galaxy, turning from weapon to relic to artifact of legend until it comes into contact with Maz Kanata. Other drafts show evidence that J.J Abrams wanted to open The Force Awakens with a shot of a severed hand floating through space, still gripping the lightsaber, but thankfully this slasher-esque shot was dismissed.
Luke’s sister wasn’t always Leia
Even the most die-hard Star Wars fans can’t seem to figure out who Yoda was referring to when he said “There is another” in response to Obi-Wan claiming Luke Skywalker was their last hope of defeating the Sith. After Return Of The Jedi, there was a little clarity that Yoda was probably referring to Princess Leia, who is Luke’s sister and a potential Jedi.
Yet if you look back to before the trilogy was complete, you might find another answer. There was a time when Leia wasn’t meant to be Luke’s sister at all, and his true sister was a completely new character called Nellith Skywalker. George Lucas initially planned a sequel trilogy that would take place after Return Of The Jedi with Nellith taking place as the hero figure instead of her brother, Luke. Much like Luke, Nellith was hidden at birth in another part of the galaxy, away from the gaze of the Empire. Audiences would first learn of her existence and have a first hint of another saviour during the Dagobah training scene. If this did happen, would Luke have eventually turned to the Dark Side only to have his sister challenge his power, much like he challenged his father’s?
Sadly, filming The Empire Strikes Back took a toll on George Lucas’ personal life so he scrapped the trilogy, thus removing the concept of Nellith Skywalker completely. Yet Nellith’s character probably explains why there was a budding romance between Luke and Leia before they revealed their family ties. Even crazier still, we now have a female protagonist in Rey leading the new Star Wars trilogy four decades after the original Star Wars was released, suggesting that Lucas never gave up on his concept.
Anakin and Vader were different people
There has been much controversy by cynics as to whether or not George Lucas intended for Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker to be the same person from the start, or whether this was decided after the first movie. You might believe that Lucas always had this planned, but there is evidence to say otherwise, such as in the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back, which was written by legendary sci-fi author Leigh Brackett. The first draft shows Anakin appearing as a Force ghost to teach Luke the ways of the Jedi and the Force, which is a different character altogether.
Yet when it came down to decision time, George Lucas flipped the script and somewhere in the rewrites Anakin and Vader were turned into the same person. Of course there is further speculation about this, leaving the possibility that Lucas intentionally portrayed the characters being separate in the initial script to make the plot twist even more shocking for everyone involved.
Yoda was going to be played by a monkey
The role of Yoda was actually going to be played by a monkey! The directors were going to have the monkey carry a cane and wear a mask, but instead decided to go against this. Frank Oz, the original voice of Yoda, used his puppetry skills for the character and the likes of dwarf actors such as Warwick Davis played Yoda for walking parts.
TIE Fighter Engines
The distinct sound of the TIE Fighter engines in the films isn’t actually the sound of an engine at all. It is a mixture of elephants calling and cars driving on wet pavement.
The One Line Mark Hamill Wanted Removing
During an appearance on the Tonight Show in 1977, not long after A New Hope was released, where the youthful actor tells host Johnny Carson there was a piece of dialogue just too abhorrent to speak in the screenplay.
His pleading must have worked as the line is not in the film, but it was so bad, the snippet was ingrained in his memory.
“Boy, I’ll never forget it as long as I live,” Hamill told Carson. “I sometimes dream about this line.”
He goes on, “Harrison says, ‘look kid, I’ve done my part of the bargain. When I get to an asteroid you, the old man, and the droids get dropped off’. And my line was: ‘But we can’t turn back, fear is their greatest defense, I doubt if the actual security there is any greater than it was on Aquilae or Sullust and what there is is most likely directed towards a large-scale assault.”
Mark Hamill Hated This Scene
Star Wars fans who always thought the wampa arm amputation scene was a little much in the opening of The Empire Strikes Back are not alone. Star Mark Hamill also was not pleased with the moment. “
When filming the scene I was assured my lightsaber swipe toward camera (creature not on set) would simply singe fur 2 scare him off-Horrified to later see amputation & unnecessary cruelty-Wampa was HUNGRY (not EVIL)-Luke would never do this! #StillAngry2017,” Hamill tweeted.
Return Of The Jedi was renamed
Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi was originally titled ‘Revenge Of The Jedi’ and even had posters and advertisements around with that name on!
When Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, was filming lightsaber scenes he used to get carried away and end up making the sounds of the lightsaber himself, which sadly got edited out in post-production.
Tupac auditioned for a role
American rapper and actor 2Pac surprisingly auditioned for the role of Mace Windu!
Remember the waterfalls that surround the capital city of Naboo? Well, they’re actually made of salt!
Did you spot this phrase?
Even if you’ve watched every single Star Wars film, we bet you didn’t notice that the phrase ‘I have a bad feeling about this’ is said in every single one!
No. 1 hit
A disco version of the Star Wars theme tune actually hit the charts in 1977 and became number 1 in the charts for two weeks!
Special release date
Each Star Wars film has been released one week after George Lucas’ birthday on May 14!
Alec Guiness’ thoughts
Alec Guiness, who at one time played the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi, admitted that he thought Star Wars was ‘fairy-tale rubbish’.
Harrison Ford’s paycheque
Remember when Harrison Ford appeared in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope? He was paid a staggering $10,000 for his appearance!
Slippers over shoes
Actor Peter Crushing who starred as Grand Moff Tarkin found the boots he wore as costume so uncomfortable that he used to wear slippers during many scenes when he could and asked for his feet to be cut out the shot!
Injuries on set
When Mark Hamill was filming the scene in the trash compactor he held his breath for so long he ended up bursting a blood vessel in the side of his face!
Some of the buildings that were used in the Tatooine scenes are actually still standing in Tunisia and used by locals.