With J.J. Abrams' return to a galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker approaching theaters at lightspeed, it seems appropriate to think back on all the essential Star Wars movie facts our minds have acquired. Of course, every die-hard Star Wars fan considers themselves “the Chosen One” in the fandom, claiming to have a complete encyclopedic mind of all Star Wars facts there are to know.
Perhaps you can name every system of planets in the galaxy or explain the “Who shot first?” debacle, but I’m willing to bet there are a few bits of Star Wars trivia that fell through the cracks for you. In fact, I have compiled 10 of the most shocking, intriguing, or just downright ridiculous lesser-known facts about the Star Wars movies here. Read through them and we shall see who the trivia master is.
Luke Skywalker Was Almost A Girl
Since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, the epic sci-fi saga has been led by a female Jedi (Daisy Ridley’s Rey) as the central hero. There was a time when that could have been the case for film that started it all.
Back in 1975 when Star Wars was still referred to as The Adventures of Starkiller, George Lucas found his second draft of the screenplay to be overcrowded with male characters. With the dawn of the feminist movement on the rise, Lucas decided apply a feminine touch to the story, by re-writing his protagonist, then called Luke Starkiller, as an 18-year-old woman. That gender swap lasted just a few months until Princess Leia was reincorporated into the preceding draft.
The Iconic Lightsaber Hum Was Created By Accident
The lightsaber has such a brilliantly distinct sound that no young Star Wars fan can resist replicating its hum during playtime Jedi with friends. Surprisingly, the design of the weapon’s signature sound was purely by mistake.
Ben Burtt, the sound designer for most of the Star Wars movies, revealed in an interview found on a laserdisc box set for the original trilogy that, while he had an idea of how the lightsaber should sound like, the actual sound did not come to him until the moment he describes here:
I was carrying a microphone across the room... when the microphone passed a television set which was on the floor, which was on at the time without the sound turned up, but the microphone passed right behind the picture tube and, as it did, [it] produced an unusual hum... That was a great buzz, actually. So, I took that buzz and recorded it and combined it with the projector motor sound and that 50/50 kind of combination of those two sounds became the basic lightsaber tone.
Burtt would later experiment with waving a microphone in front of a speaker playing his new found lightsaber sound to figure out the sound of the weapon’s movement. All it took was a little accidental signal interference to complete the design of one of the most iconic and beloved props in cinematic history.
George Lucas Actually Lost Money Over Star Wars… To Steven Spielberg
If box office results were used in gambling, assuming a Star Wars movie will take home most of the dough would more than likely prove to be a safe bet. Someone who did not believe this to be the case at one time was the saga’s own creator, George Lucas.
With his friend, Steven Spielberg, having just recently directed the highest grossing film of all time (Jaws) just two years earlier, George Lucas was positive that Spielberg’s next film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was going to be a bigger hit than Star Wars in 1977. The pair put this concept to the test and agreed that if Close Encounters made more money, Lucas would receive 2.5 points from Spielberg’s stake in the film, but if Star Wars became the victor successful, Spielberg would get the 2.5 points of Lucas’ stake.
While Close Encounters Of The Third Kind was a surefire hit, grossing around $340 million worldwide, Star Wars earned about $800 million, more than double the earning of Steven Spielberg’s earthbound sci-fi drama. More than 40 years later, this bet has cost George Lucas millions that have gone straight into Spielberg’s pocket.
Liam Neeson Was Too Big For Star Wars... Literally
While the Star Wars movies are, undeniably, a larger than life franchise, it proved too small for one of its actors. By “too small,” we mean the sets.
When Liam Neeson joined the cast of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, the productions live action sets had already been built, failing to accommodate the Irish actor’s 6’4” stature. Thus, an additional $150,000 was spent to rebuild the sets and keep Qui-gon Jin from bumping his head on every archway he passed through.
The Jar Jar Hate Was Harder On The Actor Than You May Realize
The Star Wars prequels are considered by many as the black sheep of the franchise. One actor, whose character receives a lot of blame for the drop in quality, took the backlash more personally than the typical fanboy troll circa 1999 may have realized.
Nearly 20 years after the release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Ahmed Best, the voice of Jar Jar Binks, shared this tweet in acknowledgement of the backlash his infamous role received and how he almost took his own life over it:
I think we can all agree that no movie role is worth contemplating suicide over, but no character is worth throwing abuse at the actor hired to play them either.
The Ewoks' Odd Connection To The Band Toto
One of the most definitive aspects of the Star Wars movies is John Williams’ exhilarating score. The legendary composer enlisted his son, Joseph Williams, to contribute to the saga’s musical legacy by writing the English lyrics to the Ewoks’ victory song heard at the end of Return of the Jedi.
You might also recognize Joseph Williams from his endurable 1982 hit “Africa.” That’s right, one of the writers of the Ewoks’ victory song is the lead singer of ‘80s rock band Toto.
A Certain Boy Band Almost Claimed Star Wars Fame, Too
You think that the guy who wrote “Africa” composing music for the Ewoks is weird? How about the guys who sang “Bye, Bye, Bye” making a Star Wars cameo.
By the request of his daughter, George Lucas filmed the members of pop music sensation *NSYNC for a scene in 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. But just before you pop in your dusty DVD copy (or just log in to Disney+, even) to spot where Justin Timberlake shows up, allow me to assure you that your search will come up short.
Just a few months before the release of the second Star Wars prequel, George Lucas teased that *NSYNC would make an appearance… and immediately met vapid backlash from fans. Lucas removed the cameo from the final cut before it hit theaters, and the rest is history.
You Won’t Find Darth Vader At Any Star Wars Events
George Lucas has proven himself to be a committed follower to the light side of the Force, so much so that he officially blacklisted Darth Vader himself. Not James Earl Jones, who provided the voice of the Sith lord, but the actor who filled his suit, David Prowse.
In 2010, at 75 years old, David Prowse announced on his official website that George Lucas had banned him from attending any future official events related to the saga - that means no fan conventions or cast reunions. This stems from reports that the Star Wars creator was annoyed by the numerous arguments he had with the actor over issues like replacing Prowse’s voice with James Earl Jones or Lucas accusing the actor of trying to sabotage the reveal that Vader was Luke’s father before the release of The Empire Strikes Back.
Christopher Walken Could Have Played Han Solo
It is hard to imagine anyone else playing lone outlaw-turned-resistance fighter Han Solo than the incomparable Harrison Ford. It is even harder to imagine someone like, say, Christopher Walken bringing the iconic Star Wars role to life. Yet, it almost happened.
The Academy Award-winner immortalized by his request for more cowbell on Saturday Night Live, was considered for the role of Han Solo, among the likes of Nick Nolte, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds, and even Frasier himself, Kelsey Grammer. Of course, then-carpenter Harrison Ford, having worked with George Lucas once before in 1973's American Graffiti, landed the role, but it is still a fun idea to imagine the Star Wars movies with Christopher Walken’s signature drawl.
Yoda Was Almost Not A Puppet
Maybe you prefer the Star Wars prequels’ CGI recreation of Jedi master Yoda over the original trilogy’s puppeteering. Believe me, it could have been a lot weirder.
Before Frank Oz was brought on as the puppeteer and voice of Yoda, the filmmakers considered using a trained monkey in a green mask for the role. That was until one of the crew members, who had previously worked with monkeys on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey, assured the filmmakers, “Look, the monkey’s just going to pull off the mask over and over again. It’s never going to work.”
So, are these the little known Star Wars facts you were looking for? Were we the first to shoot off these incredible bits of trivia, or did you reply to each entry with a resounding, “I know”?
Either way, until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters December 20, 2020, be sure to check back to CinemaBlend for more fun facts and new updates on Star Wars and may the Force be with you.