Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary this year - a significant landmark for fans of the pop culture phenomenon, which remains the biggest and most popular film franchise of all time.
The birthday celebrations, the sad death of Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher and the excitment about the upcoming Last Jedi movie, mean that this year's annual May 4th (May The Fourth Be With You) celebrations are going to be even bigger and better than ever before
Join in the May the Fourth celebrations by getting your hands on all the Star Wars movies, including the original six, The Force Awakens and Rogue One, on BT TV Store and enjoying these 38 mind-blowing facts about the biggest films in the galaxy…
1. In George Lucas’s original scripts – which were titled The Star Wars – the hero was named Annikin Starkiller and Han Solo was a six-foot lizard.
2. It’s impossible to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill as Han, Leia and Luke now – but the list of people who auditioned for Lucas is like a Who’s Who of Hollywood legends. Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Christopher Walken, Jodie Foster, Glenn Close and Anjelica Huston were all linked to the movie at some point.
3. The famous buzz of the lightsaber was created by Ben Burtt and was made using the hum of film projector motors and television static.
4. Ben Burtt’s other impressive tricks include making Chewbacca’s growl using animal mixtapes and electronically manipulating baby sounds for R2-D2.
5. The noise of the TIE Fighter engines was made using an elephant call mixed with the sounds of a car driving on wet pavement.
6. The role of villain Emperor Palpatine was famously portrayed by Ian McDiarmid – but he wasn’t the first actor to play the role in the movies. In The Empire Strikes Back, the character was originally played by Elaine Baker – a wife of the movie’s make-up designer – and voiced by Clive Revell.
It was only in Return of the Jedi that McDiarmid stepped in – and Baker was also replaced digitally when the movies were released pm DVD.
7. The anticipation for the first trailer of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1998 was so incredible that fans actually paid to watch it on the big screen when it premiered at the start of Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and the film Meet Joe Black. Many of the fans were so satisfied that they actually walked out of screenings before the main films started.
8. Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader has been played by six different actors on the big screen. Can you name them all? (The answers are: Jake Lloyd, Hayden Christensen, David Prowse, stuntman Bob Anderson, the voice of James Earl Jones and Sebastian Shaw.)
9. Actors who are rumoured to have auditioned for the role of Annakin in the prequels include Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Walker, Colin Hanks, Ryan Phillippe and Jonathan Brandis.
10. The word Ewok is never mentioned in Return of the Jedi.
11. Benicio Del Toro was originally cast as Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace but dropped out of the role because of the lack of lines. He was replaced as the scary-looking Sith by Ray Park.
12. The working title for Return of the Jedi was Blue Harvest.
13. The SFX crew who worked on The Empire Strikes Back have made numerous claims about the film’s famous asteroid sequence - including that some of the asteroids you see on screen are actually a shoe and a potato.
14. Yoda was designed to look like Albert Einstein.
15. The line “I have a bad feeling about this” has been spoken in every Star Wars movie so far.
16. The communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace is actually a Sensor Excel razor for women, with some decoration on it.
17. George Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles to voice Darth Vader, but eventually decided that his voice was too recognisable.
18. The famous crawl at the beginning of every movie was inspired by the Flash Gordon serials. It was originally filmed using a slow pass of a camera over the top of 2ft-wide, die cut letters over a long black paper background. It took three hours to shoot in the first movies.
19. George Lucas has claimed that the Millennium Falcon design was inspired by a hamburger with an olive on the side.
20. Yoda’s original name in the first drafts was Buffy. His name was then changed to Minch Yoda and eventually shortened to just Yoda.
21. Alec Guinness wasn’t such a huge fan of the movies, branding the first film “fairy tale rubbish”. He would later go on to demand a percentage of the movie’s takings to appear in The Empire Strikes Back – apparently managing to earn himself millions of dollars for just a couple of hours’ work.
22. When Leia tells Han Solo, “I love you”, he was originally supposed to declare his love back. However, Harrison Ford didn’t think it was right for the character and ad-libbed the classic line “I know”.
23. Early drafts of the movie had Luke’s father appear as a ghost and a separate character from Vader.
24. Secrecy around the big Vader/Luke reveal was so tight that actor David Prowse actually delivered the line “Obi-Wan killed your father”. It was only changed when James Earl Jones did the voiceover.
25. It required seven actors to control the Jabba the Hutt puppet.
26. Warwick Davis got his big break as Ewok Wicket after R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker, who originally cast in the role, fell ill with food poisoning on the day of shooting. Baker went on to play the Ewok Paploo, who steals an Imperial speeder bike, instead.
27. One original idea for the end of Return of the Jedi involved Luke discovering the truth about Vader, killing him and then taking the famous helmet for himself and declaring “Now I am Vader”. (We think they made the better decision with the final version.)
28. To stop The Phantom Menace being pirated, it was shipped under the title The Doll House.
29. Harrison Ford was only paid $10,000 to appear in the first movie.
30. The bounty hunter Bossk wears a recycled spacesuit which was used in Doctor Who.
31. Speaking of sci-fi crossovers: ET’s race of aliens also exists in the Star Wars universe. They pop up in a scene in the Galactic Senate.
32. Return of the Jedi was briefly called Revenge of the Jedi and there were actually posters and trailers made featuring that title. It was only changed back to ‘Return’ at the last minute, when Lucas decided that Jedis shouldn’t seek revenge.
33. Rapper Tupac Shakur auditioned for the role of Mace Windu, which was eventually played by Samuel L Jackson.
34. A lot of the buildings that appear on the planet of Tatooine are still standing in Tunisia and are used by locals.
35. Ewan McGregor got so excited while filming his lightsaber scenes that he made the buzzing noises of the weapon as he acted. Post-production had to edit out the sound in the final cut.
36. The boyband N’Sync filmed cameos as Jedi Knights for Attack of the Clones, but the scenes didn’t make the final cut. The rumour was that George Lucas gave them the parts to appease his daughters, but that has since been denied. The other rumour is that the pop stars’ scenes had to be cut because of the fan uproar at them appearing in the film.
37. Meco scored a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit with a disco version of the Star Wars theme in 1977. It featured on the album Stars Wars and Other Galactic Funk, which also made the Top 20.
38. “Luke, I am your father” is one of the most misquoted film lines of all time. Darth Vader doesn’t actually say those words. What he does say is: “No, I am your father”.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Bonus Edition) are available to buy in BT TV Store now.
The first six Star Wars movies are all also available to own in HD in the BT TV Store.
Photo Credit: TM & © 2017 LucasFilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Used under authorization.