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10 surprising facts about Star Wars you didn’t know

Thanks to its status as one of the most popular franchises in the history of movies, Star Wars has a hoard of fans that rivals any out there.

It’s also got plenty of trivia that has accumulated for decades, and if you’re someone who digs deep on everything from Star Wars shows to even the Star Wars movies that don’t happen, then you might be interested in some of the facts we’ve assembled here. Here are 10 facts about the mega-franchise that may surprise even some major fans.

Obi-Wan was supposed to survive

obi-wan kenobi standalone film

There were numerous changes from Lucas’s first draft of Star Wars to the movie we ultimately saw, but one of the most significant has to do with the fate of Luke’s mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

In early drafts, Obi-Wan was supposed to survive his fight with Vader and live to see the end of the movie. Of course, the ending we got was hugely impactful, and Alec Guinness (who famously hated Star Wars) was probably glad that his screen time would be much more limited in the sequels.

The opening crawl was done practically

The opening crawl for The Empire Strikes Back.

Although there are now plenty of programs you can use to simulate the Star Wars opening crawl, the crawl for the first film was actually done without the help of any computers at all.

Instead, they placed two-foot wide yellow paper letters over a black background and moved the camera to simulate the crawl. Ultimately, the opening crawl took 3 hours to shoot, but the effect was instantly iconic in a way that has endured for almost 50 years.

Mark Hamill made $1,000 a week for the first film

Mark Hamill at the end of Star Wars.

Star Wars gave Mark Hamill his career, so the actor doesn’t really have anything to complain about. Even so, it’s remarkable to think that he only made $1,000 a week to star in what would become one of the biggest films of all time.

That was plenty of money to get by in 1977, and Hamill would make $1 million for Empire alone, but that salary speaks to how low-budget the original film was. It may have become a huge hit, but nobody knew it would be one.

The Empire Strikes Back caused a guild controversy

Luke Skywalker faces Darth Vade in The Empire Strikes Back.

It used to be incredibly common for most or even all of the credits for a movie to play at the beginning, but A New Hope was a huge part of the shift toward showing those credits at the end. When Lucas tried to do the same thing for The Empire Strikes Back, several major Hollywood guilds, including the Writer’s Guild, tried to have the movie pulled from theaters.

Guild rules stated that the writer and director’s names had to be at the beginning of the film. Ultimately, Lucas just had to pay a fine, but he was so annoyed by the controversy that he withdrew his membership from all the major Hollywood guilds.

The Battle of Endor was supposed to take place on Kashyyyk

Yub Nub (Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi Ending)

Lucas eventually realized his vision for the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith, but he initially wanted that planet to be the setting for much of Return of the Jedi. Lucas eventually scrapped the idea because he felt that the Wookiees were too advanced as a society for it to work.

He wanted the Battle of Endor to be thematically about a low-tech, primitive civilization proving that it had what it took to take out the Empire. That’s how we got the Ewoks, which really just look like smaller Wookiees if you squint.

R2-D2 was originally supposed to speak English

R2-D2 in the desert in A New Hope.

Another change from an early version of the script, R2-D2 was originally supposed to speak English and be kind of a jerk on top of that. Of course, you could argue that R2 remained a jerk into the finished product, just one that was much harder to understand.

At one point in the initial scripts, R2 tells C-3PO: “You’re nothing more than a dim-witted, emotion-brained intellectual. Why you were created is beyond my logic systems.” Probably better to stick with random boops and beeps.

Return of the Jedi could have ended very differently

Luke Skywalker defies the Emperor in Return of the Jedi.
Disney / Disney

During an initial story meeting for Return of the Jedi, Lucas suggested to Lawrence Kasdan that the movie could have a very dark ending. “Luke takes [Vader’s] 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,'” Lucas reportedly said.

Kasdan loved the idea, but Lucas ultimately decided that a more conventionally happy ending was the right way to go.

NSYNC was almost in Attack of the Clones

*NSYNC - Bye Bye Bye (Official Video)

The early 2000s were a strange, heady time filled with boy bands and Star Wars prequels. Briefly, it seemed like those two may cross over when George Lucas’s daughter asked her dad to bring NSYNC to the set of Attack of the Clones for a cameo.

Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass declined, but the rest of the band actually filmed as Jedi Knights during the movie’s final battle. Were they any good? We may never know, as their scenes were cut out of the movie’s final cut.

The Porgs were created to hide puffins

A porg in The Last Jedi.

The miracles of modern computer graphics mean that even filming issues can turn into something memorable. When The Last Jedi was filming in Ireland, it was impossible to get a wide show that didn’t include the hundreds of puffins that are native to the island.

Puffins don’t exist in Star Wars, though, so the team got creative and created a creature called a Porg that resembles a puffin but could be native to the island where Luke had been hiding out. Porgs became a meme in their own right, and all because of those darn puffins.

Qui-Gon’s communicator is a woman’s razor

Qui Gon speaking into his communicator.

By the time The Phantom Menace rolled around, Lucas essentially had a blank check to make whatever he wanted. Even so, there were still some times when the easiest answer was to just use something that already existed instead of building a totally custom prop.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what they did for Qui-Gon’s communicator, which was built using the molds for a woman’s razor.

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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