20 Amazing Star Wars Facts Even Fans Don’t Know
Titrating trivia from a galaxy far, far away
The Star Wars movies just might be the analyzed, documented, and discussed science-fiction franchise ever created. And yet, there’s still so much about the films movies that even the most die-hard fans don’t know. Even if you consider yourself a Jedi master of Star Wars trivia—a certified historian of all things Skywalker and Solo—there are likely a few jaw-dropping tidbits that will still be news to you, and here are 20 of them.
R2-D2 once spoke English, and was kind of a jerk.
The R2-D2 we all know and love from the Star Wars movies speaks only in beeps and whistles, a robot language that most of his friends can understand. But in the original draft of Star Wars, written in 1974, R2-D2 spoke in complete sentences.
Even more alarming, he was not the lovable goof he would later become. He was actually kind of a bully, berating his pal C-3PO with insults like, “You’re a mindless, useless philosopher,” and “You’re nothing more than a dim-witted, emotion-brained intellectual. Why you were created is beyond my logic systems.” Sheesh, take the hostility down a notch, will ya?
The original Return of the Jedi ending saw Luke Skywalker turn evil.
The original trilogy ends on a happy note. The Dark Side is defeated and all of our favorite characters survive. But, according to J.W. Rinzler’s behind-the-scenes tell-all The Making of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, the seminal tome about how Episode VI was made, that wasn’t the original idea.
In early story meetings, writer-director George Lucas considered an ending for Return of the Jedi that was much, much darker. As he pitched it to co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, “Luke takes his mask off. The mask is the very last thing—and then Luke puts it on and says, ‘Now I am Vader.’ Surprise! The ultimate twist. ‘Now I will go and kill the [Rebel] fleet and I will rule the universe.'”
Kasdan loved the idea, telling his boss, “That’s what I think should happen.” But Lucas ultimately decided to go a different way, feeling like Luke going evil was a bit too dark since his franchise “is for kids.”
Boba Fett first appeared in a country fair parade.
Most people believe that legendary bounty hunter Boba Fett first appeared in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. But hardcore fans know it happened a little earlier, in the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978—and they’d be wrong, too. His history goes back a little further.
The first time anyone set eyes on Boba Fett was on September 24, 1978, during the San Anselmo Country Fair parade in California. The townspeople were only lucky enough to get an advance look at what would become one of Star Wars‘ most loved baddies because they shared a zip code with 52 Park Way, the original headquarters of Lucasfilm.
Duwayne Dunham, an assistant film editor for Lucas who wore the suit, said in an interview that he and a guy dressed as Darth Vader “were at the front end of the parade.” “We were leading the whole thing. We just walked side by side down the street,” Dunham explained. “It was a little funny.” There weren’t that many people at the parade, he recalled before adding, “I don’t think any press outside of the San Anselmo newspaper covered it in any way.”
Samuel L. Jackson had his lightsaber engraved with a bad word.
While doing an interview on BBC’s The Graham Norton Show, Samuel L. Jackson insisted that he still owned the purple lightsaber that his character, Mace Windu, used in some pretty epic battles in the Star Wars prequels. But the most shocking revelation? What Jackson claimed was engraved on his lightsaber, which is not suitable for young children.
Any longtime follower of Jackson’s career could probably guess it, though. As you may recall, back in 1994, Jackson appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, where he played an enlightened hitman named Jules Winnfield whose wallet is embroidered with the same words.
The original Darth Vader is banned from all Star Wars events.
When we think of Darth Vader, the first name that comes to mind is James Earl Jones, the voice behind the series’ most infamous villain. But the man in the costume was somebody entirely different, a British bodybuilder named David Prowse. And Prowse apparently isn’t among Lucas’s favorite people.
As Prowse revealed on his website (which has since been taken down), he has been banned from all “Lucasfilm associated events,” which includes conventions and other Star Wars celebrations. When he reached out for an explanation, Prowse said he was told “that I have ‘burnt too many bridges between Lucasfilm and myself’—no other reason given.” Lucas declined to elaborate, but rumors abound about the rift, with many believing that Prowse was a bit too vocal about his displeasure in learning that another actor, Sebastian Shaw, would be used for the Vader unmasking scene.
Yoda was almost a monkey.
Long before Yoda was created with animatronics and puppetry, by master Muppeteer Frank Oz, the plan was to hire an actual actor… a simian actor, that is. According to The Making of Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back, they planned to dress up a real monkey in a Yoda costume and mask. There are photos of the monkey in training and the weirdly hideous Yoda mask prototype.
Luckily, a crew member who’d previously worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey pointed out that the apes used in that movie’s opening were a huge headache, which was enough to convince Empire’s filmmakers to fire their Yoda monkey.
The first Star Wars almost caused an actual war.
To create the barren desert planet of Tatooine, Lucas found the perfect setting in Tunisia. What he didn’t account for was how even a little movie production could lead to socio-political tensions. Tunisia shares a border with Libya, which, at the time, was ruled by ruthless dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The Tunisian government received threats from Gaddafi, warning that a conflict was inevitable if they didn’t remove a military vehicle from the Libyan border.
The “military vehicle” in question was actually a Jawa Sandcrawler. Lucas agreed to move the prop because, well, inciting an international incident isn’t a great way to publicize a movie.
Chewbacca had to be protected from bear hunters.
Compared with the snowy tundras and barren deserts the Star Wars cast and crew had to endure, filming in the Redwood forests of Northern California, to create the forest moon of Endor for Return of the Jedi, must have been a cakewalk. Except for actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. During the several-month shoot, he had to be constantly chaperoned by bodyguards in bright vests, to protect him from hunters. That’s because, in costume, Mayhew could’ve easily been mistaken for a bear.
But more hilariously, the bodyguards had to protect the actor from people searching the forest for Bigfoot—yes, that Bigfoot, the mythical, ape-like creature that’s rumored to be hiding somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. We might be inclined to believe this was just another tall tale, but Mayhew himself actually confirmed the story on Reddit.
Sir Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan, hated Star Wars.
The great actor Sir Alec Guinness was accustomed to performing Shakespeare before he signed on to play Obi-Wan Kenobi. And, according to many accounts, he hated it. In a letter to friends, as obtained by Mashable, Guinness complained that “new rubbish dialogue reaches me every other day on wages of pink paper—and none of it makes my character clear or even bearable.”
What’s more, in an anecdote shared in his autobiography, A Positively Final Appearance, Guinness recalls meeting a young fan who asked for an autograph and claimed he’d seen Star Wars a hundred times. He agreed to give the child an autograph, but only if he never watched the movie again. “He bursted into tears,” Guinness wrote. “I just hope the lad, now in his thirties, is not living in a fantasy world of secondhand, childish banalities.”
*NSYNC was originally in Attack of the Clones.
As the request of Lucas’s daughter, he invited members of the boy band *NSYNC to make a brief cameo in the prequel Attack of the Clones on a break from their 2001 PopOdyssey tour.
Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake opted to pass on the opportunity, but the rest of the band agreed to be suited up as Jedi Knights. They even took part in an actual battle, fighting droids in the climactic Geonosis battle. Joey Fatone remembered that the only direction they were given was, “Pretend like you’re fighting droids.” Sadly, we’ll never know if they were convincing as Jedi—their scenes were cut from the final edit.
Nobody says the word “Ewok” at any point in Return of the Jedi.
Go rewatch the movie if you don’t believe us! Not once in the entirety of Return of the Jedi does anybody say “Ewok.” The name is used in the script—a stage direction reads, “A strange little furry face with huge black eyes comes slowly into view. The creature is an EWOK, by the name of WICKET”—but that’s it!
So, how did we all walk out of theaters knowing that those creatures were called Ewoks? The toys of the era confirmed the name, but it sure did seem like everybody was talking about Ewok long before we were buying the toys. (Somebody solve this mystery before we lose our minds!)
The Porgs only exist to cover up scene-stealing puffins.
All of those adorable Porgs that annoy poor Chewbacca in The Last Jedi weren’t originally part of the script. They were a last-minute addition by director Rian Johnson when he learned that their shooting location, the Irish island of Skellig Michael, is filled with hundreds of very friendly (and not at all camera-shy) puffins.
As creature concept designer Jake Lunt Davies explained in an interview, they decided to find a positive solution for what could’ve been a costly problem. “You can’t remove them,” Davies said of the puffins. “You physically can’t get rid of them. And digitally removing them is an issue and a lot of work, so let’s just roll with it, play with it. And so I think he thought, ‘Well, that’s great, let’s have our own indigenous species.'”
Chewbacca’s voice is a mixture of badger, lion, seal, and walrus.
When a Wookiee growls, it sounds like something both familiar and utterly unique. That’s the feat of sound designer Ben Burtt, who had to come up with a voice for Chewbacca that wasn’t just a recording of an angry bear.
“[Chewbacca] didn’t have articulated lips,” Burtt once recalled. “He could basically open and close his mouth. So you also needed to create a sound which would be believable coming from a mouth that was operated like his.” Burtt ended up mixing together the howls and roars of a couple of different creatures, including badgers, lions, seals, and even a walrus from Long Beach, California. That unique bellow has become so iconic that there are even YouTube tutorials, which have attracted millions of views, where you can get a step-by-step guide on how to talk like Chewy.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s communicator is actually a lady’s razor.
Some of the most futuristic props in the Star Wars movies were created with some very unusual materials. Like Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber, which was really just the handle of a vintage camera flash, or the medical droid’s mouthpiece in Empire Strikes Back, which was just an old-school microphone.
But our favorite bit of prop trickery is in The Phantom Menace. You may not have looked twice at the communicators used by Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). But if you did, you might have noticed that they’re shaped exactly like a Gillette razor. That’s because they are! Not literally, of course, but they were created from the resin cast of a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel Razor.
Darth Vader was almost a very famous actor.
Nobody’s real face has been shrouded in as much mystery and anticipation as Darth Vader. For seven years, the entire universe wondered, “What does he look like? Just how gruesome is he?” Lucas knew that, when the mask finally came off in Return of the Jedi, it had to pack a wallop. So he briefly considered finding somebody famous, perhaps a legendary British stage actor like Laurence Olivier or John Gielgud (with a little makeup, of course) to stand in for Vader.
But, according to The Making of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Lucas quickly nixed that idea, worrying that it would distract people from the story and they “wouldn’t take it seriously,” in his words. But we can still imagine the dramatic emoting that Olivier would have delivered as a dying Darth Vader. How could that not be Oscar-worthy?
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford partied with Monty Python and the Rolling Stones while filming The Empire Strikes Back.
In 1979, Carrie Fisher rented a London townhouse from Monty Python member Eric Idle, where she stayed while filming The Empire Strikes Back, she wrote in an essay for Newsweek in 1999.
One night, Idle visited after returning from Tunisia, where he and the other Python members had filmed Life of Brian. “He brought this drink that he said they gave the extras so they’d work longer,” Fisher wrote. “I called it Tunisian Table Cleaner.” Harrison Ford stopped by, as did the Rolling Stones, who were recording down the block. “We had a really early call the following morning, but you have to measure the fun,” Fisher explained. “Rolling Stones, or early call? And we decided on both.”
After partying all night with the Stones, Ford and Fisher arrived for the morning shoot without any sleep. The first scene of the day? The Cloud City meeting with Lando. It was their first meeting with Billy Dee Williams, and, as you’ll notice in the film, both Han and Leia are all smiles. Well, who wouldn’t be after an all-nighter with the Stones?
A 10-year-old Han Solo was almost in Revenge of the Sith.
If you’ve always wondered if Han Solo as a kid was as effortlessly cool as the adult version, we almost got a chance to find out in a Revenge of the Sith scene. As concept artist Iain McCaig explained in the Revenge of the Sith art-of book, a young Solo, being raised by Chewbacca, was briefly considered and even sketched out in illustrations.
According to McCaig, little Han was “an absolute slob.” He even had a line in the original script: “I found part of a transmitter droid near the east bay. I think it’s still sending and receiving signals.” Not too earth-shattering, granted, but still kind of amazing because that line would have been uttered to Yoda, which would mark the first and only exchange between the two Star Wars characters.
Boba Fett’s face was revealed in Empire Strikes Back.
Pretty much every kid who saw Empire in the theaters had the same thought: “I wonder what Boba Fett looks like under that mask.” Well, not to blow your minds, but his real mug is in the movie! He was right there in clear sight, sans the mask, and nobody realized!
You can be forgiven for not noticing, as you would’ve needed inside knowledge of the production to know what you were seeing. As Jeremy Bulloch, who plays Boba Fett, explained in a 2000 interview, “One day I was sitting around in the Boba Fett outfit, and I was asked if I would mind playing this Imperial officer, because there was nobody to play the part.” The role in question was Lieutenant Sheckil, a character that didn’t even have a name yet. His scene, Bulloch said, was “in Cloud City where Princess Leia says, ‘Luke, it’s a trap’! I drag her away. Moments earlier, you see me as Boba Fett shooting at Mark Hamill.” One scene, and we got a glimpse both of Boba with the mask and without it—and we didn’t even realize!
Yoda’s original name was Buffy.
Most Star Wars fanatics already know that Yoda’s full name, at least in the original script, was “Minch Yoda,” before being shortened to something that rolls off the tongue a little easier.
But here’s a fun fact that might surprise you: In the very, very early writing stages of The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda’s original name was—brace yourself—Buffy. Yes, Buffy, a name we usually associate with awesome teenage vampire slayers. The world would have been a very different place if Yoda had somehow been given this very un-Yoda-like name.
There’s a small South Pacific island that accepts Star Wars coins as legal tender.
The small Polynesian island of Niue, 1,500 miles off the coast of New Zealand, might not be a galaxy far, far away, but, according to the Los Angeles Times, it’s the only place on this planet where you can pay for goods and services using collectible coins featuring Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and other Star Wars characters.
The coins they accept, however, are not just any old Star Wars coinage. They have to come from the New Zealand mint—and they all include a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the flip side. Also, each coin is sold for around $20, but they only have a face value of 80 cents. So if you actually use Star Wars coins to buy anything, you’re a bigger sucker than Lando making a deal with Darth Vader. And for more Star Wars fun, check out these 30 Silly Star Wars Jokes That Are Actually Hilarious.
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