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Things You Didn't Know... / May 30, 2018

Star Wars Facts: 21 Things You Didn’t Know

We take a look at 21 things you might not know about the Star Wars film franchise...

Each year on the 4th May, fans from all around the globe get together to celebrate all things Star Wars with the renowned greeting "May the fourth be with you". But did you know the expression was first used in 1978 amongst US fans as a 4th July pun? And the first time it was actually used on the 4th May was the following year, when a London newspaper used the phrase to congratulate British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on her taking office that day. 

Many years later, the remark and the date were officially cemented into the widely-celebrated Star Wars Day. With a universe as big as this one, even now over 40 years on there are still new Star Wars facts waiting to be discovered! As our own homage to the world of Jedi, droids and lightsabers, here are 21 things you might not know about the Star Wars movies...

1. The word “Ewok” is never actually spoken out loud in the films

We all know what to call the furry creatures of Endor, and most people would probably assume we heard the word from our favourite protocol droid C-3PO. Turns out it's another piece of popular culture that we've been remembering incorrectly. However, the word does appear in the final credits of Return of the Jedi. 

2. Tupac could have been Mace Windu...

Yes, you read that right. Tupac Shakur reportedly told Rick Clifford, former chief engineer at Death Row Records, that he was to read for George Lucas and they wanted him to be a Jedi. But the part was ultimately given to Samuel L. Jackson, and filming for The Phantom Menace began less than a year after Tupac’s untimely death. In another universe, Mace Windu could have been very different indeed.  

3. ...and Alan Rickman auditioned for a role in Return of the Jedi

Imagine the famous words "Lord Vader, this is an unexpected pleasure. We are honoured by your presence." in a big, slow, low voice. This is how Rickman wanted to play Tiaan Jerjerrod, who originally had a larger role, in the third instalment of the original trilogy. Michael Pennington won the part in the end, and went on to 'double his efforts'.

4. Jar Jar Binks is responsible for the destruction of the Jedi

There's a whole list of reasons as to why he's the most disliked character in the Star Wars universe. But there’s one that’s forgotten by many - the fact that he directly handed Palpatine the means to execute Order 66. Jar Jar Binks gave a passionate speech to the Galactic Senate and persuaded them to vote in favour of giving the Chancellor emergency powers. That gave Palpatine the power to overthrow the Senate and almost wipe out every living Jedi with one move. Great work Jar Jar. 

5. E.T. is in Star Wars

OK, so not the original E.T. exactly. But his alien species are present within Star Wars. The Asogians were represented in the Galactic senate, and their first appearance can be seen in The Phantom Menace.    

6. NSYNC had a cameo in Attack of the Clones

The popular boy band were invited to briefly appear as Jedi in Episode II, for the single reason of appeasing George Lucas' daughters. But alas, they never made it to the big screen as the scene was cut from the final version. Maybe they'll reappear in another 'George Lucas Director's Cut'...

7. The line "I have a bad feeling about this" is in every movie

The line has become a beloved running gag to all. It does vary slightly each time, but the sentiment is always the same. The expression was first uttered by Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, and most recently by BB-8 in The Last Jedi. Han Solo was the most sensitive to potential impending doom, as he said it more times than anybody else.

8. The colours of lightsabers had a meaning

In earlier times of the Jedi, different colours were used to distinguish between ranks. Lightsabers made with blue or green crystals indicated whether a Jedi was a Guardian or a Consular. The more exotic colours were made with crystals that were very hard to come by, and were often passed down through generations. In later years, this distinction fell out of practice with the Jedi. 

9. The Empire Strikes Back features the most stop-motion animation

Stop-motion animation is certainly a long and gruelling process, with a whole day’s work usually amounting to just five seconds of film. The original Star Wars trilogy featured a lot of stop-motion, but none quite as much as Episode V, most likely because of those intricate scenes with the AT-ATs in the Battle of Hoth. The hard work paid off though, with the special effects still standing up to movies today. 

10. It took three hours to film the first opening crawl

One of the most recognisable movie introductions in history would take no time at all to mock up with today's technology. But back in 1977, when making A New Hope, the effect was created by using two foot wide yellow letters over a six-foot black paper background. A camera was then used to make a slow sweeping pass overhead, and the result gave us the crawl we've come to expect in all the movies.

11. "I am your father" was kept a secret, even from the cast... 

One of the biggest cinematic reveals of all time was kept a very closely-guarded secret during filming. The infamous “I am your father” line was penned in the script as “Obi-Wan killed your father”. Both cast and crew believed this to be the real line, except for Mark Hammill, who was told literally moments before shooting the scene about the truth of Luke’s heritage.

12. It’s impossible to obtain an original theatrical version of Star Wars

Every release has been altered in some way; even some of the later theatrical releases distributed in 1977 (when the first film premiered) had changes made to them. Many of the changes centred on visual effects and sound quality, as Lucas was dissatisfied with the original versions of all three films in the original trilogy, but there were also more controversial changes, such as the notorious ‘Han shot first’ scene.

13. Revenge of the Sith has more visual effects than any film in history

The 2005 release has 2,151 separate scenes that use special effects, setting a world record. The film needed 910 artists and 70,441 man-hours to create 49 seconds of footage for the Mustafar duel alone!

14. Porgs actually exist for a good reason

The idea of the Porgs, found on planet Ahch-To in The Last Jedi, was conceived by director Rian Johnson to cover up a feathery problem. The filming location used for Luke Skywalker's island of exile, Skellig Michael, is home to vast numbers of puffins. Removing them physically would have been a monumentous task (also quite possibly illegal) and trying to do it digitally would have racked up an incredible bill. 

15. Yoda and The Muppets’ Miss Piggy are voiced by the same person

Frank Oz, and English-born puppeteer, actor and filmmaker was the voice of both Yoda and Miss Piggy, as well as other on-screen icons like the Cookie Monster.

16. Daniel Craig made a cameo as a Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens

Despite denying it in an interview, the James Bond star did indeed play a Stormtrooper in one of The Force Awakens’ funnier scenes. Rey’s initial attempts to use the Force on him fail, but her persistence pays off as she persuades him to remove her restraints, aaaaand drop his weapon…


17. Yoda is the Sanskrit word for ‘warrior’

Actually, this seems to be the subject of debate – it could also be based on the Hebrew word Yode'a, “one who knows”. In early drafts of the screenplay, he was actually named Buffy, before being changed to Minch Yoda, and eventually just Yoda. His species has never been named.

18. Harrison Ford’s casting as Han Solo was a happy accident

Ford was originally brought in to feed the lines to other actors – including a young Kurt Russell – as they auditioned for the role, but Ford’s delivery convinced Lucas he was the man for the job.

19. James Earl Jones recorded all his Darth Vader lines in a single day

In fact, it took Jones just 2 and a half hours to finish the job for the original movie. He was paid $7,500 (or $3k an hour) for his services – not bad at all when you consider that Harrison Ford was paid $10,000 for his entire performance in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Jones has since explained that “Vader is a man who never learned the beauties and subtleties of human expression…So we figured out the key to my work was to keep it on a very narrow band of expression—that was the secret.”

20. Warwick Davis played Wicket because R2-D2 got food poisoning

Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2, was also meant to play Wicket the Ewok, with Warwick Davis cast as an Ewok extra after his grandmother responded to a radio advert. But when Baker fell ill with food poisoning on the day he was meant to begin shooting his Ewok scenes, Davis got the nod.

21. Yoda was originally going to be played by a monkey

That’s right… a monkey. In a mask. With a cane.

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