One day back in 1977 the world was forever changed. That was the day that the original Star Wars movie hit theaters around the country. The world has not been the same since that day and there are now hundreds of millions of fans around the world.
The movie franchise continues on today and the box office sales and the fan support is just as strong today as it was back then. Over time the world has become enthralled with Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Yoda, Darth Vader, R2D2, C3PO and of course Han Solo.
Harrison Ford made the Han Solo character what he is today but it almost didn’t happen. Ford wanted to kill off the character for several reasons, and he wasn’t getting paid a lot of money at the beginning, so we don’t really know how close Solo actually came to being killed out of the script. Luckily George Lucas was against it and the character lived (at least then!)
There are a lot of interesting facts about both Han Solo and the man that brought him to life. Some of them are better known by the hardcore fans but there are some that even they don’t know. Today we will shed some light on some of those facts about both Harrison Ford and Han Solo. You’re about to learn some things that might shock you so strap yourself in and may the force be with you!
15. Harrison Ford Wanted Han Solo To Die
The very famous Han Solo almost didn’t make it out of the original Star Wars movie. Can you imagine how the franchise would have turned out if Solo had died? Ford pushed very hard to have the character killed off but George Lucas told him that wasn’t going to happen. He said “Dead Han toys” wouldn’t be a big seller in the marketplace. It’s a good thing Lucas stuck to his guns because there is no telling how much was made off of just Han Solo memorabilia alone.
Ford told Conan one time about his reasoning for wanting Han to die. “It was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I thought the best utility of the character would be for him to sacrifice himself to a high ideal and give a little bottom, a little gravitas to the enterprise, not that there wasn’t some already but I just wanted in on some part of it. That was at the third occasion of filming the original three.”
In other words, Ford wanted the character to sacrifice himself in a way that he would be remembered throughout the entire franchise. His memory would live on forever as giving his life for the greater good.
14. Solo Was Frozen Because He Wasn’t Re-Signed Yet
Harrison Ford was not always a big fan of Han Solo. As you now know he wanted the character to be killed off in the first movie and when he wasn’t Ford did return for The Empire Strikes Back. However, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep playing the part so there was no guarantee that he was coming back for Return of the Jedi.
After the first Star Wars movie became a box office smash, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher each signed on for at least two more movies to follow up the original one. Ford signed on for the second one but not the third. This left a lot of things up in the air. George Lucas didn’t want the character to die but he didn’t know what was going to happen or be in place for the next movie. So he decided to play it safe and at the end of The Empire Strikes Back Solo was frozen in carbonite.
13. The Cloud City Scene Featured a Drunk Ford/Fisher
When the famous Cloud City landing scene was filmed for The Empire Strikes Back not everyone was on top of their game. Carrie Fisher told the world that she was renting a house during the filming of that movie and Eric Idle knew The Rolling Stones so he invited them over one night for some fun. Fisher immediately called Harrison Ford and told him to come over and the pair partied with the band until it was time to go back to work.
As Fisher tells the story she said “I said to Harrison, ‘The Rolling Stones are going to come over!’ And we had a really early call the following morning, but you have to measure the fun – Rolling Stones, or early call? Rolling Stones, or early call? And we decided on both.”
She added “We stayed up really late and got to the set about two hours later. And we weren’t hung over, we were still in our cups.”
For those nondrinkers out there that means they were still drinking. Carrie also said “And if you watch the movie you can see that. Harrison and I are smiling as we arrived in Cloud City. Doesn’t that sound like a euphemism?”
12. Ford Made $10,000 For The Filming of Star Wars
Back in 1977, Harrison Ford made only $10,000 for creating the iconic character that he did. That’s not really all that surprising when you realize that a lot of movie franchises pay low at first until they take off. On the other hand, it is a bit surprising when you consider the success that Ford already had, plus he had a relationship with the filmmakers due to his role in American Graffiti. That ten grand would be a little more than $40,000 in today’s money so it wasn’t really that bad, but not nearly what you would expect for the great role that he played.
Ford once told Good Morning America that his pay was broken down by $1,000 per week during filming. He said for that reason alone he almost turned down the role. Had the public known that back then they might have been pretty upset with him. Not many people made a grand a week back in those days.
He said that he was originally just going to help out in reading some lines but when they offered him the role and the pay, he almost walked away from the set. “A producer friend of mine that produced American Graffiti, somehow connived to get me to read the lines with people that were auditioning for the parts of Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. I thought I was just helping out. Then when the whole thing was over they asked me if I wanted to play Han Solo. I said yes… eventually.” He was shocked at what they offered him for pay though. “I said ‘How much?’ And they said ‘$1,000 a week’. And I said ‘No! No’… But I did. I did it for $1,000 a week. The first one.” Ford said he made a lot more for the second movie.
11. Harrison Ford Was Once a Stagehand For The Doors
It’s pretty well known that Harrison Ford used to make custom furniture before he made it big. In those days he had a friend named Paul Ferrara. That friend was doing a documentary on The Doors, who were very big back in 1968. During the filming, he realized that the one camera he was using wasn’t going to be enough. So he reached out to his buddy Harrison Ford and asked him if he would man another camera for the shooting.
Ford ended up filming several different shoots of the band and got to know them as time went by. Somehow he ended up being a stagehand for the band but it didn’t last very long. He once told MTV’s The Big Picture Show that “When it was over, I was one step away from joining a Jesuit monastery. I thought it was cool, I thought it was hip, but I couldn’t keep up with those guys. It was too much.”
The antics of The Doors are very well documented and only Harrison knows exactly what he saw and took part in. Jim Morrison was one crazy guy but I’ll bet he never realized that he was hanging out with the soon to be Han Solo backstage!
10. Ford Went Off-Script In The “I love you” Scene
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. During The Empire Strikes Back Han Solo proved that two words can be worth an eternity of remembrance.
In that famous scene at the end of the movie when Han Solo is being lowered into the carbonite mold to be frozen, Princess Leia reveals to him that she is in love with him. She looks at Solo and says “I love you”. Solo was supposed to tell her “I love you too” but he didn’t. Ford said that he didn’t think that the sentence was a good fit for what Solo would say, so instead he simply said, “I know.”
The ad-libbed line seemed to have a lasting effect on the fans of the movie franchise and it was never forgotten. The scene is one of the most iconic of all of the movies that have been made. If you ask any fan of the Star Wars movie franchise what their favorite scene is, that one will always be in their top two. Considering the fact that it’s not even how it was written, things turned out pretty well for all of those involved. Who needs writers when the actors can come up with the great lines all by themselves?
9. Harrison Ford is The Second Actor By That Name
Way back in the 1920’s and 1930’s there was an actor in silent films named Harrison Ford. He made his last movie in 1932 but he was known well enough that today’s era of movie makers didn’t want any confusion in the names of their actors. For that reason when the current Harrison Ford started making movies he went by the name Harrison J. Ford. He used that moniker until 1970 when he finally changed over to just plain old Harrison Ford.
Do you know what that “J” stands for? Jim maybe? Could it be John? Or maybe Jimmy or James? Nope. Harrison Ford doesn’t even have a middle name. The letter was completely made up for the sole reason of differentiating him from the silent movie actor from back in the day.
Anyone that watches either of the man’s movies wouldn’t confuse them anyway. The first one didn’t speak because he was a star in silent films. The current one speaks obviously, and he has been the owner of many famous sayings over the years. Not to mention the fact that the current Harrison Ford only appears in full-color movies.
8. Star Wars Comic Features Solo AND Indiana Jones
If you are a Star Wars fanatic you probably already know this one. Then again you may not. There are plenty of comic books on the movie series and some of the story lines in them are far different from the actual movies. Not only are they different, some of them are as far-fetched as the mind can stretch and some of them are just downright funny. Star Wars Tales #19 is one of the funny ones.
In the comic Han Solo and his longtime partner, Chewbacca, are flying through space trying to get away from an Imperial Fleet. As their chasers were closing in, the fleeing pair decided to make a jump into hyperspace with the Millennium Falcon. The Falcon is destroyed when they crashed into the Seattle area of the United States.
Without giving away all of the details, here is what happens. Han Solo is killed by some Native American’s, right there in the cockpit of his famous ship. It’s a bit cloudy what they did to Chewy though. When he screamed out after watching his friend get killed they were scared and named him “Sasquatch”. It’s not really known if he survived or not, but 126 years later Indiana Jones was hunting for “Sasquatch” and accidentally came upon the Falcon and found Han Solo’s dead body inside. Come on now that’s a little bit funny!
7. Ford Owns a Helicopter and Has Saved Two People
Harrison Ford likes to fly different kinds of aircraft, not just the Millennium Falcon. He once crashed one of his airplanes into a golf course but he wasn’t hurt that bad. Most people know of this incident because it was pretty well publicized. But did you know that he also owns a helicopter and he has rescued two people?
He likes to help out on search and rescue missions but doesn’t offer the type of help that hinders the authorities. He actually helps them out. Back in 2001 he helped find a 13-year-old boy that had gotten lost in Yellowstone National Park.
Less than a year before that, he actually made the rescue of Sarah George. She was hiking on Table Mountain in Wyoming when she was stricken by dehydration and altitude sickness. Ford took his chopper out and found the woman and saved her life. The local sheriff said that Harrison saved them $1,000 an hour, which is what it would have cost them to hire someone for the rescue.
George said “He was wearing a T-shirt and a cowboy hat. He didn’t look like I’d ever seen him before.”
Can you imagine being rescued by Han Solo and Indiana Jones at the same time? She must have though she was much worse off than she really was!
As this piece was being put together reports have come out that Ford was involved in a near collision in California earlier this year. He apparently came in on the wrong runway with his plane after being cleared to land on another runway that was close by. He came in just above an American Airlines jet that was carrying 110 passengers and was waiting to take off. Ford was obviously startled at what he saw and asked the control tower “Was that airliner meant to be underneath me?”
6. Ford Has Bugs Named After Him (And Has Named One!)
Harrison Ford has spent many years as an environmental activist. He has done so much work with them, as well as a ton of charity work, that they have honored him by naming two bugs after him.
He inspired the names of an ant and a spider. The ant is called a Pheidole harrisonfordi and the spider is called a Calponia harrisonfordi. You know that you have done some good in the world when you have insects named after you. He isn’t the only celeb to have insects named after him but it is still a pretty high honor.
The spider was named after him as a thank you for narrating a documentary that was done by the London Museum of Natural History. The ant was named after him because of all of his conservation work.
Ford was also once asked to name a newly found species of butterfly. He stuck with a basic name, a little easier to pronounce, when he named it after his daughter, Georgia.
Think about what kind of guy Harrison Ford is. He makes mega-hit movies, does conservation work, does free work, and rescues those in need. It’s almost as if he really thinks he is Han Solo or Indiana Jones. That’s not a bad type of person to be in our world at all.
5. Han Solo Could Have Been In Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars fans missed out on another Han Solo sighting when he didn’t appear in the final cut of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. Solo was living with all of the wookies on Kashyyk but nobody saw him.
George Lucas has admitted that what he thought was going to be an easy script to write, turned out much harder than he thought. The final script was much different from the original one that was written and Solo was one of the casualties of the editing process. It cast some light on his early years and showed you that he was actually raised with the wookies. That explains why he and Chewy were so close.
Solo was scheduled to have only one line in the movie. He was supposed to say “I found part of a transmitter droid near the east bay. I think it’s still sending and receiving signals.” It was only going to be a very small part, one that lasted less than a minute, but it was going to open up a world of new information of Solo’s upbringing. In the end, Lucas thought that it didn’t really offer anything to the movie so the part was cut and the public never saw it.
4. Harrison Ford Was Far From The First Choice To Play Han
It’s always fun to know who might have played a famous role had they not turned it down. There are so many movies made that it’s a rare occasion that the first person to be offered a role is the one who actually makes it famous.
George Lucas was very firm in his thought process of not wanting to use Harrison Ford in the Star Wars movies. Ford had already been used in American Graffiti and Lucas was against using the same actor to play different roles.
Can you imagine how Han Solo would have looked while being played by Nick Nolte? Or maybe Christopher Walken? How about Kurt Russell? Several people were actually considered for the famous role including Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino and even Bill Murray auditioned!
When Ford was finally offered the role, as you read earlier, he almost turned it down because the money wasn’t what he thought he deserved. The offer was $1,000 a week, which turned into a grand total of $10,000 back in 1977. That’s about forty grand in today’s money, which is still not a bad chunk of change. But Ford gave serious thought to rejecting the offer simply because of the money.
Maybe if Ford had rejected the part Al Pacino would have come around and changed his mind? The thoughts of others playing the role of Han Solo leads to a number of questions about how things could have been.
3. Ford Narrated The Trailer For The Empire Strikes Back
The original trailer for The Empire Strikes Back was something that caught the world’s eye. They were informed that the next movie of the then famous trilogy was coming soon and everyone was sent into an uproar. Most missed one that the original trailer was narrated by Harrison Ford, out of character from Han Solo.
The trailer is famous for not only Ford narrating it, but it also contained several scenes that didn’t even make the final cut for the movie. StarWars.com reported that “The trailer contains a few noteworthy gems, such as the famously cut “Threepio ripping the sign off the door” shot. Originally, the invading Imperials were to enter the door, sans warning sign, to be subsequently attacked by a pack of angry wampas. The sequence was ultimately cut from the film, but not before this small hint of its existence was forever immortalized by the trailer. Also noteworthy is the lack of any mention of Yoda (his appearance was still top secret) as well as the stylized Empire logo we’re all familiar with. Since the logo had not yet been finalized, an early, somewhat clumsy-looking title closes the trailer, promising Empire’s much-anticipated release “next summer.”
2. Harrison Ford Was Originally In E.T.
Harrison Ford was once married to Melissa Mathison, who wrote the screenplay for E.T the Extra-Terrestrial. She couldn’t do a movie without including Harrison and when Steven Spielberg got involved he agreed. Of course, Spielberg was already familiar with Ford’s work so it was a no-brainer at the time the decision was made.
The movie was known to not show the faces of most of the adults in the film until it was well underway, so all of Ford’s scenes were filmed with his back to the camera. He played the part of the school Principle. When Elliot released all of the frogs that were about to be dissected in school, Ford gave him a good chewing out about it. There was another scene when Elliot was levitating just out of Principle Ford’s view. Do you remember those scenes? Of course, you do! But wait, you can’t! They never appeared in the actual final movie cut.
When the final movie was being put together Spielberg decided to cut those scenes out because they needed to cut down the time and they really weren’t relevant to the main storyline. That’s two movies that Ford had small parts that got cut in the final edit. I wonder how much he got paid for never appearing in those final movies.
1. Who Fired First?
It’s been asked about as many times as “Who shot J.R.?” Who actually fired the first shot between Han Solo and Greedo? Well, it actually depends on which version you watch.
In an unedited version of the original Episode IV, it is very obvious that Han Solo fires the first and only shot, killing Greedo right away. Greedo has his weapon aimed at Solo but doesn’t fire at all.
Though George Lucas later changed the scene. In this version, Greedo fires the first shot but it missed Solo because he was leaning down. Han then rapidly fires the killing shot into Greedo.
So who really did officially fire that first shot? You might have to go with the first version because it was the original release of the scene. I guess technically that would make it the official answer. George Lucas obviously sees things a bit differently though since he changed it. Star Wars fans have argued over it for many years and some of them are pretty passionate about their belief.
Han Solo himself was once asked who actually fired that first shot. In the interview, Harrison Ford responded, “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” So there you have it. It’s up to you to draw your own conclusion!