The Bizarre Prop Mark Hamill Says Was Rejected On The Set Of Empire Strikes Back

The original Star Wars movies have become legendary over the years for their strokes of low-tech brilliance. Some of the coolest effects – whether visual or audio – were created using some of the most ridiculously simple methods imaginable. Even with a bolstered budget for The Empire Strikes Back, it seems that some of the best effects involved the simplest solutions. One such effect occurs during Luke’s stay on Dagobah with Yoda, after the original prop for his journey through the Dark Side Cave was rejected by the production.


According to a new report from Yahoo! Movies, Mark Hamill recently took to Twitter to explain how his face appears behind the mask of Darth Vader after he hallucinates the Sith Lord/terrible father in a cave on Dagobah:


It was my head protruding through an opening in the set floor as I stood below. My prop head was tested but rejected.


I don’t know about you, but that’s something I had always wondered for myself. Many of us always assumed that the face inside of the mask was nothing more than an incredibly well constructed prop, but as it turns out, the production simply dug a hole with an opening for Mark Hamill to stick his face through. This allowed the face inside of the mask to have a much more realistic and terrifying implication for the character. They managed to pull this off because, as the Dagobah set was designed for a man to work the Yoda puppet, the set had space underneath the floor big enough for a man to enter.


As I’ve already mentioned, this wasn't the only time that the folks behind the Star Wars films devised an incredibly low-tech method to achieve an effect. The original trilogy is pretty much built around cheap and simple solutions to complex problems. Incredibly iconic aspects of the original films, such as Darth Vader’s breathing, or the sound of a TIE fighter swooping through space, we created simply by recording the sound of a SCUBA regulator and a car driving on wet pavement, respectively. In an age before anything and everything could be done with computers, these people had to aggressively think on their feet.


Over 30 years later, we finally have answers to some of those minor yet burning questions about the Star Wars universe. With the new era of Star Wars adventures seemingly moving towards returning to a proper balance of practical and CGI effects we have a feeling that the franchise will continue to innovate new, simple techniques that will stump people for decades to come.


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters later this year on December 16, while Star Wars: Episode VIII will hit theaters next holiday season on December 15, 2017. Stay tuned for more details!

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.