10 Sur­pris­ing Facts About Star Wars

Which Star Wars char­ac­ter was gen­der­swapped, which one was al­most a mon­key, and a close-kept se­cret

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Front Page - BY BRAN­DON SPECKTOR

1 LUKE SKY­WALKER WAS AL­MOST A GIRL

A long time ago (Jan­uary 1975, to be ex­act) a f ledgling screen­writer named Ge­orge Lu­cas was work­ing on the sec­ond draft of an epic sci-fi space opera.

Of the many, many prob­lems with this clunky script that would even­tu­ally be­come Star Wars: A New Hope, one that seemed eas­ily fixed to Lu­cas was the se­ri­ous lack of fe­male char­ac­ters. So, Lu­cas did some­thing rad­i­cal: he rewrote his story’s main char­ac­ter, Luke Starkiller, as an 18-year-old girl. But a few months later, with Lu­cas’s next draft, Starkiller was a boy again.

2 NO­TABLE NOISES

The sound of Darth Vader’s breath­ing was recorded by put t ing a mi­cro­phone in­side a scuba div­ing reg­u­la­tor; Chew­bacca’s sig­na­ture Wookie gar­gle is a com­bi­na­tion of bear, wal­rus, lion and badger sounds. The sound of Vader’s pod door clos­ing in Em­pire is re­port­edly the sound of a whole block of Al­ca­traz cell doors slam­ming shut.

3 THE OPEN­ING TEXT CRAWL TOOK 3 HOURS TO SHOOT

The fa­mous float­ing text that opens Star Wars: A New Hope may have been one of the great­est spe­cial ­ef­fects achieve­ments in the film. As Men­tal Floss points out, the text was filmed prac­ti­cally “by care­fully plac­ing 2-foot-wide die-cut yel­low let­ters over a 6-foot-long black pa­per back­ground with a cam­era mak­ing a slow pass over them to mimic the crawl.”

4 THE GARBAGE IN THE DEATH STAR COMPACTOR SCENE WAS REAL

“Into the garbage chute, fly­boy!” ­or­ders Princess Leia. Ap­par­ently, the smell was so bad that Mark Hamill burst a blood ves­sel try­ing to hold his breath, and the cam­era an­gle had to be ad­justed for the rest of the scene so as not to show his in­jury. As for Peter May­hew’s yak-hair Chew­bacca suit? It reeked for the rest of pro­duc­tion.

5 IT TOOK FOUR MEN TO POR­TRAY ONE VADER

How do you cap­ture a pres­ence as big as Darth Vader? Cast four men. The on-screen body of Vader is body­builder David Prowse; his stunt dou­ble for ac­tion scenes is pro­fes­sional fencer Bob An­der­son; the voice of Vader is the great James Earl Jones; and the de­hel­meted face of Vader in Re­turn of the Jedi is Se­bas­tian Shaw.

6 YODA WAS AL­MOST A MON­KEY IN A MASK

The spir­i­tual cen­tre of the Jedi or­der was al­most a real-life mon­key in a green mask car­ry­ing a cane.

Luck­ily, a mon­key ex­pert on set threw a ba­nana peel in this plan’s tracks by point­ing out, “Look, the mon­key’s just go­ing to pull off the mask over and over again. It’s never go­ing to work.” The team called on pup­peteer Frank Oz to bring Yoda to life.

7 BEST-KEPT SE­CRET IN FILM

Lu­cas kept the twist end­ing of The Em­pire Strikes Back so wel l guarded, he even wrote fake text in the script to throw the ac­tors of f. Dur­ing f ilm­ing, David Prowse yelled to Mark Hamill: “Obi-Wan killed your fa­ther!” The cast and crew thought this was the real line – only Hamill, who had been told the truth about Vader mo­ments be­fore film­ing the scene, knew oth­er­wise.

8 IT TOOK SEVEN MEN TO POR­TRAY JABBA THE HUTT

“Three pup­peteers were in­side: one con­trolled the right arm and jaw, an­other han­dled the left hand and jaw, tongue and head move­ments, and both of them moved the body; a third per­son was in the tail. Out­side, there were one or two peo­ple on ra­dio con­trollers for the eyes, some­one un­der the stage to blow cigar smoke up a tube and an­other work­ing bel­lows for the lungs,” ac­cord­ing to Men­tal Floss.

9 R2D2 AND AN EWOK

Kenny Baker, the man des­tined to live in­side R2D2, also played Paploo – the en­ter­pris­ing Ewok who steals an im­pe­rial speeder bike.

May the Force be with you.

10 LOST AN END­ING

The orig­i­nal end­ing of Re­turn

of the Jedi has Han Solo dy­ing in a raid on the Death Star. Har­ri­son Ford prob­a­bly would have been fine with this. Ford was fa­mously snippy about Lu­cas’s script (“Ge­orge, you can type this ****, but you can’t say it”) and in a 2010 in­ter­view he waved off his char­ac­ter as “Ham Yoyo”, stat­ing he was of­fi­cially “done with him”. Time makes fools of us all.

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