28 ‘Star Wars’ Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
Did you know Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas' dog, an Alaskan malamute?
In case you hadn’t heard, the latest “Star Wars” movie, called “The Last Jedi,” hit theaters on Dec. 15.
The sci-fi saga, which has spawned movies, TV shows, books, video games and about a million action figures over the past 40 years, is a worldwide phenomenon. Its movies have sold nearly $4 billion in movie tickets at the American box office alone. “The Last Jedi” will undoubtedly be another massive hit, as it’s already been a favorite of critics across the country.
Whether you’re a “Star Wars” virgin or veteran, we’ve got 28 facts about the iconic franchise that you might not know:
1. The First Movie Was Made For $11 Million
In 1977, 20th Century Fox wasn’t optimistic about its new sci-fi film and set a small-ish budget of $11 million for its production. By contrast, 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” cost an estimated $300 million to make.
2. The Original Script Was Seriously Epic
Writer-director George Lucas’ first script for “Star Wars” was more than 200 pages long, according to a 1980 special issue of Prevue magazine. That’s about twice as long as a typical screenplay. Lucas said it took him eight months to write.
3. Luke Skywalker Was Going To Be Woman
In the early stages of its development, Lucas wanted the hero of “Star Wars” to be a female named Starkiller. He then changed the character to a male named Luke Starkiller, before finally settling on the softer-sounding Luke Skywalker.
4. Chewbacca Was Inspired By George Lucas’ Dog
Lucas came up with the idea for the furry fan favorite Chewbacca based on his dog Indiana, an Alaskan malamute. Lucas said Indiana used to ride in the front seat of his car, which inspired him to give Han Solo a hairy co-pilot.
5. Fox Executives Thought Chewbacca Needed Pants
“Star Wars” star Mark Hamill told “Today” that he recalled 20th Century Fox executives complaining that Chewbacca was naked. He said they suggested the Wookie wear lederhosen or baggy pants.
6. The Millennium Falcon Was Based On A Hamburger
If for some reason you feel hungry when watching the Millennium Falcon fly through space, it’s probably because its design was partly based on a hamburger eaten by Lucas.
7. Some Of The Asteroids Were Potatoes
Speaking of “Star Wars” facts that will make you hungry, crew members recently revealed that some of the distant asteroids seen in the first movie were actually spray-painted potatoes. Hear about it in the video below:
8. “Star Wars” Got Some Help From The Director Of “Scarface”
Brian De Palma, best known for directing “Scarface,” “Carrie” and “The Untouchables,” co-wrote the iconic opening text crawl from the first “Star Wars” movie.
9. Kurt Russell Auditioned To Be Han Solo
The legendary role that eventually went to Harrison Ford could have belonged to a 26-year-old Kurt Russell. Watch his audition tape below:
10. James Earl Jones Lied About Voicing Darth Vader
Actor James Earl Jones, who provided the intimidating voice of Darth Vader, originally didn’t want credit for his work because he felt he merely provided a sound effect. Jones would also deny that he was Vader’s voice when people asked him, saying it sounded like another voice actor.
11. The Lightsaber’s Sound Came From Two Familiar Sources
“Star Wars” sound designer Ben Burtt said he created the telltale humming sound made by lightsabers by blending the sounds of a TV set and a 35mm projector.
12. The TIE Fighter’s Sound Came From An Elephant
Burtt has also said he created the screeching noise of the TIE Fighter’s engine by altering the sound of an elephant’s bellow.
13. Burger King Gave Away Precious Collectibles For 59 Cents
In 1977, Burger King was the destination for collectible “Star Wars” drinking glasses. The fast food restaurant gave out commemorative glasses with the purchase of a Coke, which cost 59 cents, plus tax. The glasses have now become coveted collectibles.
14. Yoda Was Originally Called “Buffy”
In Lucas’ original drafts of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the character that would become Yoda was named Buffy. In later drafts, Yoda actually had a full name: Minch Yoda.
15. R2D2 Found Love On “Sesame Street”
In 1980, beloved “Star Wars” droids R2D2 and C3P-O appeared in a pair of “Sesame Street” episodes. In one of the episodes, R2D2 fell in love with what turned out to be a fire hydrant. Watch the silly scene below:
16. The Original Trilogy Nearly Ended On A Bummer
While developing “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas originally planned to end the movie by having Luke Skywalker put on Darth Vader’s helmet and say, “Now, I am Vader.” He ultimately scrapped the idea of Luke fully embracing the dark side.
17. Yoda Has A Varying Number Of Toes
Close viewers will notice that in the original trilogy, Yoda has four toes, while in the prequel trilogy, he has three toes. If there ends up being a Yoda spin-off movie, maybe we’ll finally get a definitive answer on how many toes the Jedi Master had.
18. R2D2 Is Barely Tall Enough To Ride Disney’s Star Tours
Assuming R2D2 ever took a break from his interstellar adventures, the droid would barely be able to ride the “Star Wars” ride at Walt Disney World. According to Disney’s website, the minimum rider height for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue is 40 inches. R2D2 is 43 inches tall.
19. “Star Wars” Disco Was A Massive Hit
The 1970s music artist Meco recorded a disco version of the “Star Wars” musical theme and laughed all the way to the bank. As terrible as the idea sounds, Meco’s funky “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” was a number one Billboard hit for two weeks in 1977.
20. A Major Prop Was Made From A Women’s Razor
The communicator device used by both Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn and Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1999’s “The Phantom Menace” was made from a Gillette women’s razor. The Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel razor served as the object’s base.
21. Tupac Wanted To Be A Jedi
Iconic hip hop artist Tupac Shakur auditioned to be a Jedi in “The Phantom Menace,” according to Rolling Stone. Sometime before his death in 1996, Shakur tried out for the role of Mace Windu, which eventually went to Samuel L. Jackson.
22. Benicio Del Toro Almost Played Darth Maul
The enigmatic villain from “The Phantom Menace” was almost played by Benicio Del Toro. Del Toro was locked in to play Darth Maul but reportedly left the movie after many of the character’s lines were cut. Del Toro ended up landing a role in 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
23. People Paid To See Two Minutes Of “The Phantom Menace”
When “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” came out in 1999, anticipation for the new movie was unprecedented. According to the New York Times, when the first two-minute trailer for “The Phantom Menace” hit theaters, people bought tickets for other movies just to see the trailers and then left the theater before the actual movie began.
24. James Bond Was A Stormtrooper
James Bond star Daniel Craig had a cameo in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as a Stormtrooper. He appears in one scene with his recognizable face completely covered by a helmet, but it’s easy to tell the voice is his. Watch the scene below:
25. Harrison Ford Nearly Died In The Millennium Falcon
While filming “The Force Awakens,” a horrible accident gave Harrison Ford a broken leg, but it actually could have killed him. According to The Guardian, the actor, then-71 years old, was pinned to the ground by a hydraulic door on a set made up to look like the Millennium Falcon.
26. “The Force Awakens” Is In Elite Company
The 2015 “Star Wars” reboot is one of only three movies to ever top the $2 billion mark in worldwide box office gross (“Avatar” and “Titanic” are the other two!). At $936 million in the U.S. alone, it is the highest-grossing movie ever at the domestic box office.
27. Nobody Says “Skywalker” In “Rogue One”
The 2016 “Star Wars” spin-off movie “Rogue One” is the first, and so-far only, movie in the series in which the name “Skywalker” is never spoken.
28. “The Last Jedi” Is The Longest Adventure Yet
This year’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the longest movie in the franchise yet. It clocks in at 152 minutes, which is 10 minutes longer than the previous record holder, 2002’s “Attack of the Clones.”
There you have it! Now you have some impressive facts to recite while you stand in line for tickets to “The Last Jedi.”