Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Back to the Future all have hardcore fanbases. But people don’t just like Star Wars, they like knowing everything there is to know about it. I grew up with all the Essential Guides, Visual Dictionaries, and Incredible Cross-Sections, but every day Twitter informs me that I am like a mid-grade Star Wars nerd, at best. So, depending on your own level of fandom, the mileage you get on this 15 Facts article may vary, but I promise we dug up some cool things your average nerf-herder wouldn’t know:
1. There Is No Light Side Of The Force
Obviously I have started with a bold claim, but the fact remains that nowhere in the Star Wars movies is there a reference to the “Light” side of the force. In the original movie, the Force was presented as an all-encompassing aspect of life. The “Dark Side” was more of a shadowy corner of the Force, rather than a fully developed B-side. As the series progressed over 40+ years, the idea of duality grew from such a massive good vs. evil story. The prequels made it pretty official by focusing on the whole “Chosen One bringing balance” runaround. Still, the closest the movies have gotten to identifying the Light Side is Kylo Ren struggling with “the call to the light” in The Force Awakens. So what is the true nature of the Force? Is the Force a balanced yin and yang, or is it ~everything~ and that just means there’s a dark corner? The answer is: Star Wars is a fairy tale that is fun to talk about.
2. The Ewok Language Is Real
Ben Burtt, the man behind Darth Vader’s breathing and the lightsaber hum, created most of the languages in the galaxy far, far away. Ewokese was based on the Kalmyk Oirat, a language spoken in Russia after Burtt heard it in a documentary. In fact, most alien languages in movies are created by rearranging sounds and words in real languages, because making them up out on your own is really hard. Yub nub!
3. There Are No Bras In Space
When we lost Carrie Fisher in 2016, we lost not only our Princess and General but one of the most honest and hilarious voices in Hollywood. In her memoir-turned-performance piece, Wishful Drinking, Fisher shares the reasoning George Lucas gave for not letting her wear underwear.
“What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t — so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit — so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
I guess Gold Bikinis have a little more room to breathe?
4. Yoda Dang Done Gone To The Damn Dark Side
In the Clone Wars-era novel Dark Rendevous, there’s a moment where Yoda and Count Dooku have a little lightsaber fight chit-chat about the nature of the Force. During the debate, Dooku does the basic “you don’t know the power of the dark side” spiel, which Yoda throws back in his face, basically saying “yeah-huh.” Of course, the book is not officially canon, as it was released pre-Disney, but A) “canon” is a made-up way to classify different made-up stories. It’s all made up! But if you insist on following the rules when it comes to imagination stories, then may I refer you to the episode “Destiny” from the sixth season of Clone Wars. Yoda meets his own dark shadow in the Wellspring of Life, and while it’s not spelled out, the implication is that he maybe went through, like, a phase.
5. TIE Fighters Sound Like Elephants
Back in the sound booth, Ben Burtt combined the sound of a car skidding on wet pavement with an elephant…neighing? Honking? What do you call the sound elephants make?* Either way, that goofy noise is what’s behind the intimidating screech of the Imperial Navy’s staple fighter.
*I looked it up, it’s called honking. TIE Fighters honk like elephants. That’s cannon.
6. David Prowse is Banned From All Official Events
David Prowse is the body inside Darth Vader’s armor, and as far as he knew he was the voice of the iconic villain as well…right up until he saw the movie at the premiere. While we can all agree that hiring James Earl Jones to dub Vader’s lines was one of Lucas’ better decisions, he probably should have, like, mentioned it? The British bodybuilder spent years being understandably -but vocally- frustrated about the snubbing, to the point that he was finally banned from all official Star Wars events in 2010. According to Lucas’ representatives, Prowse had “burned too many bridges.”
6. A New Hope Is The Reason You Have To Leave When Movies Are Over
Back in the day, buying a movie ticket would let you hang out in the cinema all day. Rather than a scheduled attraction, you bought admission to the theater and could stick around for whatever you liked. That changed when Star Wars became so popular that people would sit and watch it multiple times in a row. Film distributors quickly changed the rules to capitalize on multiple viewings. This is why you have to awkwardly smile and nod to the teenagers trying to clean while you wait for a three-second joke after the credits of a Marvel movie.
7. The Original Millennium Falcon Was Kinda Meh.
Before Colin Cantwell landed on the flying hamburger design for Han’s bachelor van, his original concept was much closer to a classic rocket tube. This earlier version, known as the “Pirate Ship” was even built by ILM modelmakers before George Lucas saw the similar-looking ship from Space:1999. The creative direction was to ensure Han’s ship was wholly unique and original; so the Pirate Ship was retooled into Leia’s Tantive IV, which is the very first ship we see in the franchise.
Star Wars (1977): The first Millennium Falcon, by @ILMVFX modelmakers.
Aka the “Pirate Ship”.
Only the cockpit and the radar dish will be recycled for “our” Millennium Falcon.
A known story. ==> thread. pic.twitter.com/alINo1IBLS
— Spaceshipsporn 🚀 (@spaceshipsporn) September 10, 2019
8. The Opening Crawl Cost Lucas His Seat In The Director’s Guild
According to movie rules in the 1970s, a movie needs to have opening credits. Of course, Lucas had a different vision for kicking off the biggest adventure ever. Lucas resigned from the Director’s Guild and paid a fine to have his movie start with the iconic crawl, rather than telling us who the third executive producer was. This did cost the original trilogy another director, though/ Steven Spielberg, who was in good standing with the guild, was later unable to sign on to direct Return of the Jedi as he originally hoped.
9. “Endor” is Elvish for “Middle-Earth”
Endor’s race of Fozzie Bears may be closer to dwarves than elves in stature, but warriors more attuned to nature than technology is something Tolkien’s elves would surely appreciate. Fantasy writers gotta stick together, yo. Speaking of Ewoks…
10. Kenny Baker Was Originally Supposed To Play Wicket
The man behind – or rather, inside – R2D2 was originally supposed to play the young Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Baker fell ill during filming, and the role was passed to an 11-year-old boy who was an extra on set. The kid was a HUGE Star Wars fan, so getting recast as an actual character and hero to the Rebellion was a big role upgrade. That boy, of course, was Warwick Davis, who would grow up to be a successful actor famous for roles in Willow, the BBC Chronicles of Narnia miniseries, the freakin Leprechaun in Leprechaun, and Harry Potter.
11. There Are No Clone Trooper Costumes From The Prequels In Existence
…Because every single one of them was CGI. Every single one. So, my condolences to the 501st Legion, but if y’all really want film-quality replicas of Clone Trooper armor, you’re gonna have to walk around with those little CGI tracking balls stapled to a unitard.
12. Darth Vader’s Chestplate Has A Secret Message
In Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Vader’s control panel displays three lines of text under the buttons on the left side. While it looks close enough to Aurebesh (the Star Wars language you see on control screens and such through the movies), the lettering is actually Hebrew. The translation isn’t exact, but the general gist reads “His deeds will not be forgiven until he merits” which is, you know, freakin’ rad.
13. Luke “Pulls” His Lightsaber By Throwing It
Movie magic at it’s finest: when Mark Hamil would reach out with the Force to bring his lightsaber to hand, they’d film him just chucking the thing across the room, then reversing the footage in the final edit. Legitimately hilarious visual.
14. The Millennium Falcon Can Travel 25,000 Light Years Per Day
While I think applying any sort of real-world science to the Big Laser Movies misses the point, Han and friends do seem to get places awfully fast, even with the fastest ship in the galaxy. Of course, all fictional spaceships travel at the speed of plot, but it turns out there’s some math that says the Falcon blows the Starship Enterprise out of the water in a space race. With only the vague technobabble of “.5 past lightspeed” as a reference point, Slate put together a pretty cool interactive chart that maps out how fast various classic sci-fi ships can run.
15. The Force Is Yoga.
This one’s for all of us. As George Lucas explained to Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, “If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it. It’s like yoga, anyone can do it.” So. We are all one with the Force, and the Force is with us.
These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.