This year marks the 40th anniversary of George Lucas’s original Star Wars and if the excitement over Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is any indication, the series might last 40 more. Forty years is a long time to accumulate weird and interesting stories, some of which could have drastically altered what we currently know to be Star Wars. Here are 10 weird things about Star Wars that you probably didn’t know.
1. Return of the Jedi‘s interesting shortlist of directors
Despite Irvin Kershner’s fantastic work on The Empire Strikes Back, which is considered the greatest Star Wars film thus far, when it came to returning to the directing chair for Return of the Jedi he decided to turn it down. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2010, he explained, “After working for two years and nine months doing Empire, and having it take so much out of my life and having given me so much, I felt that it was a complete experience and it was time to move on.”
It’s certainly not an unfair stance, but before Lucas ended his directorial search with Richard Marquand, there were some fairly interesting and subversive choices that could have changed everything we know about the final film in the original trilogy.
Lucas’s search began with David Lynch, who was hot off an Academy Award nomination for Best Director for The Elephant Man. He was offered the project, but later declined to make Dune — a decision he might wish he could take back. Lucas then moved on to David Cronenberg who also said no so that he could pursue Videodrome and The Dead Zone. Lucas eventually settled on Marquand and both Lynch and Cronenberg later said that Lucas’s control of the film’s vision was a major factor in their decision to bow out.
2. Yoda was almost played by a monkey
Yes, you read that right. Everyone’s favorite little green Jedi was nearly played by a monkey with a cane and a mask rather than the iconic puppet from Jim Henson we know today. First revealed in J.W. Rinzler’s 2010 book The Making Of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, it appears that the monkey version of Yoda nearly made it to production before members of the team agreed that it was simply too ridiculous.
One crew member on The Empire Strikes Back who had worked with primates on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, was quoted by Rinzler as saying,”Look, the monkey’s just going to pull off the mask over and over again. It’s never going to work.” Although looking at the pictures compiled in an article by The Wrap, it’s clear that the monkey pulling the mask off would have been the least of their concerns had they gone through with it.
3. Ewan McGregor got carried away during fight scenes
Be honest, at some point you’ve whirled around a fake lightsaber making noises when no one’s around. Well, Ewan McGregor understands your plight because he apparently would do just that during actual takes. McGregor’s homegrown sound effects were apparently obvious enough that some post-production corrections were needed to remove it from the final films. But we can’t blame him.
4. The original Emperor was nightmare fuel
Star Wars aficionados will recall that the original release of The Empire Strikes Back featured a much different version of the Emperor in hologram form. It wasn’t until Return of the Jedi that Lucas utilized actor Ian McDiarmid, but many fans feel that the original version of the Emperor is far more scary. The character is a direct result of the creative methods they employed to create the uncanny villain.
In the lead-up to The Force Awakens, CinemaBlend compiled a series of vintage images that show exactly how that original character was created. Using compositing, make-up designer Rick Backer used prosthetics on his own wife and overlaid the eyes of a chimp. The result is an extremely unsettling human. This uncanny version of the Emperor paints him as a much more mysterious force than the film’s re-edits.
5. George Lucas and David Prowse hate each other
Don’t expect to see David Prowse at a Star Wars event any time soon because Lucas apparently hates him so much that he banned him from any official fan conventions or cast reunions, the NY Daily News reported in 2010. As the article mentions, the two have had their fair share of disagreements over Prowse’s accusations that he wasn’t paid fairly. “After enquiring, the only thing I have been told is that I have ‘burnt too many bridges between Lucasfilm and myself,'” Prowse’s website reads.
6. Grand Moff Tarkin liked to wear slippers
Okay, so you won’t see Grand Moff Tarkin wearing slippers in any actual frames from A New Hope, but the actual boots actor Peter Cushing was required to wear were apparently so uncomfortable that he wore slippers in every scene that didn’t show his feet. Hopefully that doesn’t change how you view the iconic villain.
7. Willrow Hood and the ice cream maker
One of the strangest and funniest things to come out The Empire Strikes Back was a character running in the background of Bespin holding what appears to be an ice cream maker. The image later sparked a cult following. The character would later officially be named Willrow Hood in the canon after fans built up an entire backstory revolving around ice cream. The canon then replaced the ice cream story with a more simple description of Hood as a gas miner. There’s even an event called the “Running of the Hoods” where fans dressed as Hood, along with ice cream makers, get together to, we assume, run and eat ice cream.
8. There are no clone trooper costumes
It might surprise you for a second before not surprising you at all, to learn that there isn’t a single clone trooper costume in existence from the prequel trilogy because none were ever made. Yes, every single clone trooper from the prequels is computer generated and not one clone trooper costume was ever produced. There’s not much else to say about this aside from the fact that it feels incredibly sad and, if we’re being honest, we all noticed.
9. Return of the Jedi’s ending could have been dark
Two early versions of the Return of the Jedi reveal a very dark ending after what ultimately became a happy one. One ending saw Luke taking off Darth Vader’s mask only to put it on himself, saying “Now I am Vader.” Yet another version had the Rebellion crumbling in its battle against the Empire with Han dying, Leia attempting to deal with her new role as queen, and Luke walking off into the forest. Apparently the big reason neither version made it to the final script was because Lucas no longer wanted to kill off main actors because of toy sales. While that’s usually an awful reason to make a creative decision, we got extremely lucky this time around.
10. Attack of the *NSYNC cameo
As if we needed a reason to hate the prequels any more than we already do, Lucas came mighty close to having a full on cameo by the members of *NSYNC in Attack of the Clones before he removed it from the final edit. However, some astute viewers have pointed out that they might still be in the background of at least one shot. According to reports, Lucas apparently put the cameo in to appease his young daughter but fan uproar might have led directly to their removal. Considering what we got, it might have been good for a laugh. And maybe tears.
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