In 1977, the world fell in love with a epic story that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars has been an integral part of popular culture for 40 years now, its stories of good against evil resonating with millions of viewers all across the globe. As a result of its financial and popular success, the saga has thus far produced three series of films (and counting!), countless parodies and tributes from all kinds of works, and generations of bonafide stars.
However, wherever you find plenty of stars, you’re also likely to find a whole lot of drama hidden from public view. With Star Wars entering the cultural consciousness in the pre-internet age, most of these secrets were kept tucked away from fans for many years, if not multiple decades. But with the advent of the internet, quotes from revealing biographies, memoirs, and interviews alike are now much more easily shared and widely spread.
There are a lot of juicy secrets out there about the goings on behind-the-scenes of the intergalactic epic saga. But since it can be pretty overwhelming when it comes to knowing where to start searching for them, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up 15 stories of the absolutely essential Behind-The-Scenes Drama That You Need To Know About.
15. Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher had an affair
Anyone who has seen even the briefest scene from the original Star Wars films is quickly made aware of the undeniable spark between Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. The rebel princess and roguish smuggler initially cannot stand one another, but as is the case with many “will they, won’t they” pairs, their verbal sparring soon gives way to a passionate romance. What audiences were unaware of, however, was that during production of the original 1977 film, that same passion was going on even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
As Fisher confirmed in her 2016 memoir The Princess Diarist, Fisher and Ford, then 19 and 33, engaged in a three month affair during the filming of Star Wars. Making matters all the more complicated, Ford had been married with two children at the time. However, as Fisher herself notes, their affair followed a very “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” course: rather than continuing onward, they decided to put an end to it as soon as production had wrapped. Given the fact that Han and Leia didn’t even become romantically linked until the 1980 film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, it’s safe to say that Fisher and Ford neither lost any of that chemistry, nor struggled to remain professional in the long run.
14. George Lucas doesn’t really like The Force Awakens
When Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars universe in 2012, fans across the world were left wondering exactly what was in store for the beloved franchise. Although the initial deal included reference to George Lucas serving as a creative consultant for Episode VII, Lucas himself made it readily apparent in 2015 that this did not turn out to be the case. In fact, he went one step further, getting himself in quite a bit of hot water as he referred to Disney as “white slavers that take these things.”
The comparison came about as he disavowed Disney taking his “kids” and producing what he felt was a too-nostalgia heavy film, something that many embittered fans have likewise claimed since. Although he had presented Disney with his own story ideas for a new trilogy, Lucas explained,
They decided they didn’t want to use those stories, they decided they were going to do their own thing. … They weren’t that keen to have me involved anyway — but if I get in there, I’m just going to cause trouble, because they’re not going to do what I want them to do. And I don’t have the control to do that anymore, and all I would do is muck everything up. And so I said, ‘OK, I will go my way, and I’ll let them go their way.’
Although he later retracted his “white slavers” remark, it’s clear that his feelings of disapproval regarding the direction of his beloved franchise remain.
13. Samuel L. Jackson also had a negative response to The Force Awakens
George Lucas is not the only Star Wars veteran who has been vocally critical of The Force Awakens, however. Samuel L. Jackson, who played the revered Jedi Master Mace Windu across all three prequel films, came out with a very specific critique of the film. According to Jackson, the lightsaber duels weren’t refined enough for his liking, particularly when compared with the flourishing and polished fights of the prequels.
While his perspective is certainly easy to understand, it’s also particularly easy to contradict. In the prequels, the Jedi are an established order and every member of the ranks have undergone years of intensive duel training. However, in The Force Awakens, newcomers such as Rey and Finn have never handled a lightsaber before suddenly being thrust into heated battles with them. Likewise, although Kylo Ren has presumably had years of training, he is seriously injured in the film’s final fight, which accounts for the messiness of his movements. Besides, as Jackson himself observed, these new kids have a lot of time ahead of them to learn their stuff, so perhaps this criticism was made too early in the game.
12. Hayden Christensen felt he didn’t earn his fame
On the whole, the George Lucas-directed prequels have been criticized since their release by many devoted fans for not matching up to the quality of the original films. In particular, much of fans’ anger has been aimed at the character of Anakin Skywalker, who has frequently been called whiny and selfish. Criticism has naturally drifted toward the man behind Anakin’s performance for two of the prequels, Hayden Christensen, who has mostly retreated from the spotlight in recent years.
However, it is not due to the large amount of criticism that Christensen has made a new life for himself away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. It was, in fact, the fame itself that drove him to seek a quieter life on a farm. As Christensen explained to the Los Angeles Times,
I guess I felt like I had this great thing in ‘Star Wars’ that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave.
In the past year, however, Christensen has slowly started easing his way back into the spotlight, with a starring role in the film 90 Minutes in Heaven and a memorable appearance at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration.
11. George Lucas’s first wife Marcia decided many of the most iconic moments
While George Lucas receives much of the credit for bringing the world of Star Wars to life in vivid and engaging ways, an in depth look at the making of the original film reveals that the credit ought to be shared. According to the 2008 book The Secret History of Star Wars by Michael Kaminski, a great deal of what made the film instantly iconic was in fact decided by Lucas’ then wife, film editor Marcia (Griffin) Lucas.
Marcia Lucas received the Academy Award for Film Editing in 1977 for Star Wars, but her contributions to the film went far beyond that. In particular, Marcia has been credited with the idea of having old Ben Kenobi be killed off in the duel with Darth Vader on the Death Star, and ensuring that Han Solo’s return in the film’s final act be suspenseful and significant. She is also responsible for sweeter and more humorous scenes such as Leia giving Luke a kiss on the cheek for good luck, and Chewbacca roaring at a small rodent-like robot in order to scare it away. Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, has noted that “You can see the huge difference in the films that he does now and the films that he did when he was married.” Perhaps Marcia’s lack of involvement in the prequels explains why so many feel they don’t measure up.
10. The man behind Darth Vader is banned from official Star Wars events
While James Earl Jones and his commanding tone immediately come to mind whenever anyone thinks about Darth Vader, British actor David Prowse also had a major role in bringing the illustrious villain to life on the big screen. Although Jones’ dialogue was dubbed in after filming, Prowse himself recited each and every one of Vader’s lines for the sake of filming, as well as provided the formidable appearance of the masked menace. It stands to reason, therefore, that Prowse is a man that deeply passionate Star Wars fans would love to meet. However, due to undetermined issues between Prowse and George Lucas, that dream has been all but dashed.
In the 2015 documentary Elstree 1976, which details the lives of actors who played minor roles in Star Wars, Prowse laments the fact that he has, essentially, been banned from attending Star Wars Celebration and Disney’s Star Wars Weekends. He notes that, “I’ve obviously upset him at some stage or another. And they just feel I’m persona non grata at those two shows.” While Prowse is unsure of the exact reasoning behind his being prohibited from appearing, the general online consensus seems to be that Lucas must not have approved of Prowse taking part in The People vs. George Lucas, a 2010 documentary that was highly critical of Lucas and the prequels in particular.
9. Rogue One underwent serious last minute reshoots
In the summer of 2016, news of a certain rumor broke on the internet that sent millions of Star Wars fans into an anxious flurry: Rogue One‘s initial cuts were unsatisfactory for Disney and intensive reshoots would be needed in order to get the film up to par. Further, the rumors maintained that the film would still remain on track for its scheduled December 2016 release, which had fans further concerned about just how much of the film needed to be changed and whether it could be done in time.
As we all now know, the reshoots appear to have been a great success, and the movie did indeed make it in time for its December 2016 release. The film was critically praised, boasting an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of the franchises best-reviewed films. However, viewers remain in the dark as to what exactly the original cut of the film looked like. While certain changes are obvious – given entire scenes from the trailers that didn’t make it into the film as well as characters whose appearances and personalities totally changed – others remain elusive to this day. The original scenes were not provided as deleted content on any of the at home releases of the film, and, according to director Gareth Edwards, fans should hold off on asking about them for a few years and let the film settle as it is.
8. The Han Solo movie’s directors were fired with only weeks left of production
Rogue One isn’t the only Star Wars anthology film to be plagued by production issues, however. Back in June, it was revealed that the directors of the upcoming young Han Solo film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, had been fired from the project with only weeks remaining on the production slate. Fans were left in utter shock with this revelation, especially given how far into shooting the film was at this point.
The insider reports regarding Lord and Miller’s firing make things sound particularly dramatic, involving heated clashes between the directors and the executives of Lucasfilm since day one. These details can only make readers wonder how it took this long for this decision to happen, but a particular rule in the Directors Guild of America’s handbook perhaps explains why this firing occurred when it did. With Ron Howard stepping in and taking the helm for the remainder of production, fans can only hope that the rest of the film’s final weeks will be far smoother sailing.
7. Darth Vader being Luke’s father was a last minute reveal to only Mark Hamill
The reveal in The Empire Strikes Back that Darth Vader is, in fact, Luke Skywalker’s father is perhaps the most iconic (and misquoted) scene from the entire saga so far. The amount of secrecy needed to make this reveal a success, therefore, was pretty intense. During production, only three people knew of the truth of the “I am your father” line: George Lucas himself, director Irving Kershner, and, at the last possible moment before filming the scene, Mark Hamill. In fact, Hamill was only told in order to know how he would have to react to the line read by David Prowse during the scene.
And what exactly was that line? “Obi-Wan killed your father.” Since that would have been quite the dramatic reveal as well, Mark Hamill’s famed scream of disbelief would have seemed totally in line with how Luke would react to such an incomprehensible betrayal. Little did Prowse, along with the rest of the cast and crew, know what would become of the interaction once James Earl Jones had dubbed the true line in during post-production.
6. An actor lied about playing the iconic “TR-8R” Stormtrooper
As soon as it was released, The Force Awakens had many moments that were quickly deemed worthy of discussion and jokes on the internet. One particular standout was a scene in which a Stormtrooper confronts recent turncoat Stormtrooper Finn, and angrily yells “Traitor!” at him. The Stormtrooper, cheekily dubbed TR-8R by the fans, was soon the subject of a multitude of memes. Due to this character’s popularity, it’s understandable that fans would want to know the man behind the mask. However, eager fans soon got a lot more than they bargained for in that area.
A young actor by the name of Alex Rolt came forward and claimed that he had been the man behind TR-8R, chosen due to his background in fencing providing adequate training for the combat scene between TR-8R and Finn. However, not long after his internet fame had soared, the truth came out: Rolt had lied about it, claiming that it was nothing more than a “joke that got out of hand.” The true face behind the mask, stuntman Liang Ying, has since received the credit he deserves.
5. Oscar Isaac campaigned for Poe to survive because he was tired of dying early in movies
Poe Dameron is one of the first new characters introduced in The Force Awakens. His brand of bravado and bravery is precisely in line with some of Star Wars’ past pilot characters, which quickly established him as a fan favorite even though he really has comparably little screen time within the film. Yet that screen time apparently could have been even shorter, had J. J. Abrams’ original script held. As it turns out, Poe was meant to die in the TIE fighter crash that separates him and Finn in the film’s first act.
However, Oscar Isaac fought in order to prevent that from happening, as he had begun to develop the unenviable reputation of being that actor who dies early in movies. After being killed off early in movies such as The Bourne Legacy, Isaac was understandably hoping to find a role that had more of an arc to it. And so, after expressing his wish to Abrams, Isaac explains that, “A week or so later, JJ wrote to me and said ‘We’ve got it figured out, Poe’s in the rest of the movie now’. And so this idea that Poe comes back was added later. Which obviously for me was incredibly exciting and fantastic, I get to live.” Poe would go on to have an emotional reunion with new pal Finn, and thus, thousands of Finn/Poe fan fictions were born.
4. The legendary opening crawl led to George Lucas leaving the Directors Guild
For the majority of the first few decades of film, in depth credits were placed at the beginning of each and every film. In fact, this was even a requirement of the Directors Guild of America; anyone who failed to comply would be issued a fine. In 1977, when Star Wars was released, George Lucas did not want to put his credits before the film, but rather at the end of it. While he complied just enough with the rules to place his Lucasfilm logo at the start, he opted instead to proceed directly to the now iconic opening crawl and get right on with the main action of the film. When he did the same with The Empire Strikes Back, however, things were different: Lucas himself was no longer the director, and the DGA would not have this.
The Guild informed Lucas that he must redo the opening with the credits listed properly, and further slapped him with a $25,000 fine. Although Lucas tried to sue them, he realized in the long run that it would be easier to simply pay the fine he had been issued. But rather than proceed to pay the $500,000 necessary to recredit and reproduce the film according to their standards, Lucas chose a far more dramatic measure: quitting the Directors Guild of America, as well as the Writers Guild of America. It’s safe to say that he didn’t have any further trouble when it came to the opening crawl for any of the movies that followed.
3. *NSYNC nearly had a cameo in Attack of the Clones
Star Wars is hardly a stranger to already established celebrities having roles within the films. Sir Alec Guinness brought Obi-Wan Kenobi to life in the original trilogy; Samuel L. Jackson, Liam Neeson, and Ewan McGregor all had pivotal roles in the prequels; and the sequel trilogy has already boasted cameos from the likes of Simon Pegg and Daniel Craig, with the potential for more prominent cameos in The Last Jedi. Yet Attack of the Clones, the second of prequel films which was released in 2002, nearly boasted a particularly noticeable cameo: 1990s boyband favorites, *NSYNC.
As George Lucas’ daughters and producer Rick McCallum’s daughters were huge fans of the band, and the members of the band were likewise huge fans of Star Wars, the cameo seemed a perfect opportunity for Hollywood synergy. According to the detailed report compiled by The Huffington Post, the band’s cameo was filmed across two different scenes, but these scenes were ultimately cut from the film, perhaps due to negative fan reactions and union disputes. This greatly upset the band, in particular Joey Fatone, who goes on the record claiming to have even angrily confronted Lucas about it years later. Also according to the report, a closer look at one of the fight scenes on Geonosis in the film reveals someone who might be Fatone. However, Lucasfilm refuses to comment on the matter, which perhaps all but silences any future hope of determining whether their surely entertaining cameos survived.
2. Sir Alec Guinness really didn’t like Star Wars
There’s no denying that a large part of what made Obi-Wan Kenobi such an integral character to Star Wars‘ early success was the gravitas brought to the role by renowned actor Sir Alec Guinness. However, what may come as a surprise to devoted fans of the galaxy far far away is this: Guinness reportedly couldn’t stand the films. In a 1975 letter, he described the script as “fairy-tale rubbish.” In 1976, he wrote of “new rubbish dialogue,” as well as one of his young costars, “Tennyson (that can’t be right) Ford. Ellison (?—No!)—well, a rangy, languid young man who is probably intelligent and amusing.”
He makes it clear that he was grateful for the money the role provided him, and that he liked his cast mates, but that he did not consider the role to be “real acting,” especially with a script that was constantly changing. In his memoir, A Positively Final Appearance, he goes so far as to put it quite bluntly: “I have no intention of revisiting any galaxy. I shrivel inside each time it is mentioned.”
It should serve as some consolation to fans of Obi-Wan anywhere that Ewan McGregor is considerably more interested in revisiting Kenobi, should the opportunity arise, as rumors suggest it might.
1. C-3PO and R2-D2 weren’t exactly best friends in real life
As the only two characters to have appeared in every single Star Wars film to date, C-3PO and R2-D2 have been making audiences laugh with their love-hate friendship from the very beginning. The prim and proper protocol droid and the mischievous astromech droid are the perfect example of comedy’s tried and true pattern of the lanky straight man and stocky funny man. However, when it comes to the relationship between the men behind these iconic characters, it apparently falls further on the “hate” side of the love-hate spectrum.
According to frequent interview snippets from Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels over the years, the two were just never able to get along. While it’s perfectly fine for two personalities to clash, this revelation is particularly upsetting given how beloved the bond between their on screen counterparts has become. Baker has described some of Daniels’ behavior as “the rudest thing anyone had ever done to [him],” and felt as though Daniels “looked down his nose at [him].” Daniels, for his part, has maintained that he and Baker in fact had little interaction over the years, and upon Baker’s death in 2016, he tweeted a message of remembrance for his departed on screen friend.
What other behind-the-scenes Star Wars secrets do you know? Let us know any we missed in the comments!
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