Star Wars is mysterious, epic and timeless and we can’t seem to stop wanting to find out more about the franchise. If you haven’t watched it before, I recommend that you do because it will change your life forever. There are only a few movie sequels that we can count on our fingers that have lasted the test of time.
One of the most shocking secrets Carrie Fisher kept since 1976, is her romantic affair with Harrison Ford for three months while filming on set which is a moment she shared in her memoir The Princess Diarist.
But while you are still debating about favorite characters and collecting timeless Star Wars comic books, there are many hidden secrets throughout the entire saga that will greatly add to your enjoyment. Such as who made over $90 million off the franchise and what Lucas’ original plan was for the death of Vader.
For your entertainment, I also added shocking facts of favorite characters, the inspiration behind the film, and as for the rest of the fun facts? Well, you will have to continue reading.
15. George Lucas’ Best Kept Secrets
The genius George Lucas had a few franchise secrets he kept to himself. According to Business Insider, Harrison Ford was a carpenter before his big role in Star Wars and landed the movie role after he “helped George Lucas audition other actors for the principle parts.”
According to the book Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas, his ex-wife mentioned that Boba Fett and Darth Vader were about to be written into the storyline as brothers.
In Episode II the original plan was for Han Solo to be in his youth as an orphan raised by Chewbacca while living in Kashyyk.
When George Lucas asked the concept artist to draw Darth Maul, he told him to illustrate the “scariest thing he could think of,” according to the book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of Multi-Billion Dollar Franchise. It turned out terrible because he would have had a gray face with a receding hairline and red dreadlocks.
14. The Most Popular & Lucrative Character is Darth Vader
In any hit sequel, there is only one character that fans can’t seem to get enough. On Star Wars Day last year (May 4th), Twitter ran a survey to find out which character fans liked the most and 250,000 tweets were received. According to the venture beat website, other Star Wars characters on the list were Yoda, Han Solo, Kylo Ren, Rey, Finn, Captain Phasma, and Palpatine.
Darth Vader was the most profitable throughout the entire empire. His style influenced multi-colored DEVON luxury watches, his helmet was made into a two-sliced toaster and on the plastic wraps of hamburgers.
Lucasfilm has not published the exact amount of money the production company earned from Darth Vader merchandise, but the Star Wars franchise is estimated to be between $27 billion – $42 billion. With that said, we can guestimate that it is a small chunk of that amount.
13. The History of Emperor Palpatine
The original person that portrayed Palpatine was Marjorie Eaton in The Empire Strikes Back and the voice actor at that time was New Zealand actor Clive Revill. According to Wikipedia, Clive Reville “Was later replaced by Ian McDiarmid in the 2004 DVD version to maintain continuity with Return of the Jedi and the Prequel trilogy, though Revill is still credited.”
Ian’s youthful appearance was a setback for the makeup team because he had to sit for hours as a makeup artist put prosthetics on his face.
Did you know President Richard Nixon inspired Palpatine’s character? Most Star Wars fans thought he was similar to Hitler. However, both Nixon and Palpatine became successful right before a war and based on news critics, Nixon was involved in illegal activities while Palpatine was known for manipulating the masses as a Supreme Chancellor politician of the Galactic Republic (a fictional universe). The culture war between the Palpatine and Rebels mirrored the U.S. involvement in Vietnam when Richard Nixon was president.
12. Carrie Fisher’s Drug Addiction While Playing Princess Leila
As innocent as she seemed, the old saying looks are deceiving fits this point perfectly. In the book Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher admitted “I didn’t even like coke that much. It was just a case of getting on whatever train I needed to take to get high.” While her castmates could have ignored her obvious signs of help, John Belushi approached her and suggested that she clean up her act. Ironically, John died of a drug overdose in the early 1980s. Despite her drug habit, Carrie worked in some prominent roles that include The Terminator, The Blue Lagoon, The Princess Bride, and The Accused.
In 2010, Carrie Fisher was open to the press about how her fame in Star Wars lead to excess partying as she spiraled out of control on drugs even while she was acting in The Return of the Jedi. It is fair to say that despite this sad reality, her acting skills shined through and helped carry the movie to success.
11. The Drama Between George Lucas and David Prowse
A lot was happening behind the scenes between David Prowse who played Darth Vader and George Lucas. Sources revealed that an Olympian swordsman by the name of Bob Anderson replaced David Prowse in Episode V and VI. To save face, David said his fighting skills were not up to par, but there is a rumor that he had a strong arm and the proper Sith lightsabers he swung in the air would break when George Lucas was trying to stick to a movie budget.
According to the news site The Sun UK, one of David’s friends stated: “Dave never received much money for his role and was always shoved to the side.” One thing led to another, and George and David had a heated fight. As a result, George eventually banned David from Lucasfilm promotional conventions and events.
10. Luke Skywalker’s Father Was Not Darth Vader
One of the top mysteries that even non-Star Wars fans know is the belief that Luke Skywalker’s father was Darth Vader. It all started in the 1980s during the time when The Empire Strikes Back was in theaters; fans were in disbelief when Darth said the four famous words “I am your father.” At the same time, people were confused because in the first film Luke’s dad was dead. So, here’s how the producers kept their secret tight-lipped:
According to the Lucasfilm website, Darth Vader never said “I am your father,” he said “ Obi-Wan Kenobi killed your father,” which means George Lucas never had to reveal anything to the fans.
He kept the secret to himself so well that even cast members were running with the wrong information. The only people connected to the movie that knew the truth was Irvin Kershner and of course Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker.
9. The Phantom Menace Helped the Movie Meet Joe Black Sell Tickets
When Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace arrived in 1998, it was at a time when movie trailers were not accessible on the internet although now it is a sensation. The marketing team working behind the scenes of Meet Joe Black were strategic and decided to add the Star Wars trailer right before the movie started. A film critic wrote an article on the CINEMA BLEND website stating, “One dude was, even so, excited that he just couldn’t control himself when Yoda popped up on screen for the first time (even if he didn’t exactly look a whole lot like the Yoda from the original trilogy).”
The movie Meet Joe Black had an average amount of success because Brad Pitt was a part of the cast, but when Star Wars fans found out the film trailer was going to play, it became a bigger hit at the box office, even if some fans left right after the trailer.
8. Alec Guinness Earned Over $95 Million From A New Hope
Alec Guinness was not thrilled with the idea of forever being associated with Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t greatly benefit from the success of the film. According to the Daily Mail, he said it was a “fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.” He may have been Mr. Grumpy, but George Lucas went onto the record to say Alec was never late and inspired the cast with his epic acting skills.
We can’t believe he got such a negative reputation for his attitude when you consider his bank account ranked in $95 million to act in A New Hope. If that seems like a huge number, it could be due to the fact that Guinness earned 2% of the Box Office earnings. While he didn’t receive it all in one sum, it was split up throughout his career.
7. Luke Skywalker Almost Turned Into Darth Vader
In Return of the Jedi, there was an emotional scene that everyone that watched it can remember. Right before Darth Vader passes away, Luke takes off Darth’s mask, and the two engage in one of the most iconic moments of the series. The surprising news is George Lucas had different views for this particular moment.
George planned for Luke to take off Vader’s hat after he dies and wear it before saying “Now I am Vader.” Can you imagine Luke moving to the dark side with this ending? It would have caused fans to pass out in their movie seats. Not to mention that this kind of twist would go against what we know Luke to be. The Star Wars legacy would have been different and not in a good way.
6. Fun Facts About Darth Vader
What a perfect antagonist, the mysterious bad guy that people hate but love at the same time. According to the book Star Wars Trivia: Behind The Scenes Stories, Myths, And Amusing Facts, “In Jedi, listen carefully as Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This the only time the Jedi theme music plays over a shot of Vader, reflecting his return to the light side of the Force.” Also, the book reveals that Darth’s helmet in Revenge of the Sith “Was symmetrical for the first time.”
Although James Earl Jones did an epic job as Darth’s voice over, he asked George Lucas not to credit his name because he was new in his career in the entertainment industry and wanted to market himself as more than a voice over actor. Also, the writer, actor and director Orson Welles almost became Darth Vader’s voice actor.
5. The Native American Culture Inspired Star Wars Characters
The BBC News reported that the one of a kind cinnamon-bun hairstyle worn by Princess Leia was the same updo worn by Native American Hopi women of the Squash Blossom tribe located in Arizona. Despite the obvious similarities, George Lucas denies he was culturally appropriating.
A Native American tribe called the Miwok were also the vision behind the Ewoks. These Indigenous people lived in Humboldt County in what Californians now know as the Redwood National and State Park. George Lucas tried to replicate the scenery in this location in the Endor Scenes of Return of the Jedi.
Surprisingly, the artistic inspiration goes both ways. A Navajo painter by the name of Ryan Singer grew up in Arizona with a fascination for Star Wars. When he was younger, he thought Tatooine looked like a desert near the Tuba City of Arizona and illustrated this in his paintings.
4. Star Wars Ruined George Lucas’ Life
At first, it was George Lucas’ plan to be an executive producer by investing in the movie. Irvin Kershner would direct, and the daily responsibilities would have been Gary Kurtz job. The movie was so complicated in planning and executing that George became physically drained during the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. He also wanted to be a family man and spend time with his wife Marcia (at the time) and move forward with construction plans for the Skywalker Ranch. His plans went in the opposite direction, the budget for the film skyrocketed, filming went past schedule, and he had no choice but to direct the movie.
After reviewing the first set of cuts, the screenings were confusing which meant more money was spent to make updates. While trying to attempt to earn a return on investment, even the reshoots were not enough to satisfy George. His personal relationships, marriage, and health were breaking into pieces, but at least he created Star Wars?
3. R2-D2 Was Originally Supposed To Speak English
Our little friend R2-D2 was innocent, cute and a breath of fresh air. Despite this fact, he was a walking robot made out of metal, and his body language did all the talking as his personality shined through more than some of the characters that could speak.
When the original storyline developed, our little friend would have ended up speaking English in A New Hope as the comic relief in the movie. George Lucas decided to throw this idea in the garbage, and it’s a good thing that he did. If R2-D2 was a sarcastic jokester, it might have ended up like his character in the Family Guy cartoon.
According to The Independent, R2-D2 narrated the entire saga. In the book How Star Wars Conquered the Universe, George Lucas stated:
2. Tight Deadlines Made Cushing Hurt His Feet
Peter Cushing joined the Star Wars empire at the right time because Alec Guinness was beginning to be miserable about his job as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Peter may not have had the veteran acting skills as Alec, but his career was at an all-time high when he landed the part.
Despite Peter Cushing being the new kid on the block, he wasn’t afraid to be his true self on-set amongst Star Wars veterans. Sadly for him, however, Cushing wears a size 12-foot shoe, and the boots he was asked to wear were too small. To make matters worse, the designers on-set had no time to go out and buy a bigger pair. After filming a few scenes and suffering in pain, he decided to settle for a pair of slippers. It is why we see him shot from the waist up. The next time you watch A New Hope, remember that he isn’t wearing a pair of running shoes or work boots.
1. The Competition On Release Day
Did you know that the first Star Wars wasn’t expected to be a movie theater favorite? There were only 40 theaters across the United States that had an interest in showing Star Wars. One of the reasons for this is 20th Century Fox studio forecasted weak ticket sales because of the other movies that were playing at the same time. The competing films were Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds who declined Han Solo’s role in Star Wars, The Greatest a movie about the boxer Muhammad Ali’s life, and The Car which inspired by Steven Spielberg’s film Duel.
The studios also planned to release a bestselling book-to-movie adaptation called The Other Side of Midnight. To make it an even bigger uphill battle, there were also scandalous stories of Star Wars going over-budget and insinuating that it was not going to be successful. It looks like Lucas got the last laugh!