"Star Wars" cast: 25 greatest untold stories
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, hundreds of unassuming cast and crew members came together to create one of the most iconic filmic worlds of all time. They gave sci-fi fans "A New Hope," and arguably "awakened" something in all of us. What people don't realize, though, is that some of the most iconic "Star Wars" characters almost looked a lot different. And many of the best stories actually took place behind the scenes ...
25. Alec Guinness hated "Star Wars"
Alec Guinness -- who plays Ben "Obi-Wan" Kenobi in the three installments of the original "Star Wars" trilogy -- was a big deal in the acting world before ever setting foot onto George Lucas' set. So, while the "Star Wars" films made him a very rich man, he grew to resent the fact that a whole generation of moviegoers seemed to associate him solely with the character of Obi-Wan. As such, he publicly bashed the franchise a lot in his later years, even telling one interviewer that he asked George Lucas to kill off his character, so he wouldn't have to go on delivering such banal dialogue.
24. The trash was real
The trash in the "New Hope" trash compactor scene was real. In fact, it smelled so bad that Mark Hamill burst a blood vessel in his face, trying to hold his breath. Talk about a curve ball for the cameramen!
23. Yoda was almost a monkey
In "The Empire Strikes Back," George Lucas originally intended for Yoda to be played by a monkey, wearing a mask and holding the Jedi Master's signature cane. The idea was then scrapped over fears that the monkey would hold up production by pulling off its mask too much.
22. Liam Neeson was too tall
The "Star Wars" sets were only built as tall as they had to be for the actors in each installment of the franchise. So, when Liam Neeson -- who is 6'4'' -- joined the cast of "The Phantom Menace," all the doorways reportedly had to be rebuilt so that Qui-Gon Jinn could walk through them without ducking.
21. *NSYNC almost had a cameo
"Might sound crazy, but it ain't no lie."
A long time ago in the year 2001, George Lucas and "Star Wars" producer Rick McCallum's daughters were so obsessed with *NSYNC that they almost convinced their fathers to give the boy band a cameo in "Episode II: Attack of the Clones." In fact, Joey Fatone confirmed to The Huffington Post in May 2015 that he, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick filmed two different scenes as Jedi knights on a break from their PopOdyssey tour...
"Bye, bye, bye"
One scene had the *NSYNC boys fighting droids in a climactic Geonosis battle. The other had them casually talking in a corridor, as Obi-Wan and Yoda walked past.
According to Fatone, the three boy band members (Justin and Lance were too tired from touring to participate) were each given Jedi robes, lightsabers and Padawan braids to film scenes in front of a green screen. And everything looked good for their cameo chances, until rumors started swirling in the press and George Lucas announced that the scenes had been cut. At least SNL immortalized the cameo in a spoof skit before that happened.
20. We actually see Boba Fett's face
Ever wonder what Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who freezes Han Solo in carbonite, looks like under that mask? We actually see his face in "Empire Strikes Back."
It's true. When the original actor intended for the part fell through at the last second, Jeremy Bulloch -- the actor who plays Boba Fett -- was asked to fill in as Imperial Lieutenant Sheckil, the man who captures Princess Leia during her attempted escape on Bespin. We then see him again as the official who presents C3PO's dismembered body to Darth Vader, after the droid has been blasted by a Stormtrooper.
19. One puppeteer, so many favorites
You may know that puppeteer Frank Oz is responsible for both the voice and body movements of Yoda. But did you know how many other iconic characters Frank Oz has puppeteered?
In addition to Yoda, Frank Oz puppeteered Bert, Cookie Monster and Grover in Sesame Street; and Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear in The Muppet Show. Impressive, that is!
18. Anakin's arrest for reckless driving
In 1999, Jake Lloyd played young Anakin Skywalker in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace;" a nine-year-old slave who wins his freedom by being such a talented pilot. Six years later, he was arrested in Walterboro, South Carolina, for reckless driving, after allegedly leading deputies on a chase reaching speeds over 100 mph.
Guess all those podracing skills don't come in too handy in the real world.
17. Is that Keira Knightley?
In 1999, before "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Love Actually," or even "Bend It Like Beckham," Keira Knightley played Sabé, one of Queen Padmé Amidala's handmaidens in "Episode I: The Phantom Menace." She served as the Queen's lookalike decoy; so that if someone was trying to kill Padmé, they'd kill Sabé instead.
Knightley was 12-years-old at the time and largely unknown, so she flew beneath the radar. Now, a bonafide Hollywood A-Lister herself, it's hard to imagine moviegoers ever not noticing her in a film.
16. Kenny Baker wasn't just R2
You probably know that actor Kenny Baker, who stands 3 feet, 8 inches tall, plays lovable robot R2-D2 in all seven "Star Wars" films. But that's not all he plays.
In "Return of the Jedi," Baker was tapped to portray Paploo the Ewok, in addition to Artoo. His wife played an Ewok in the film, as well.
15. Leia's bikini was sexier than you think
In "Return of the Jedi" Jabba the Hutt tries to humiliate Leia by forcing her to wear a skimpy slave girl outfit made out of brass. In actuality, though, the now iconic gold bikini was made of hard plastic that didn't move with Carrie Fisher's body. As such, it was even more revealing than you probably thought.
"I remember that iron bikini I wore in "Episode VI," Fisher wrote in Newsweek in May 1999. "What supermodels will eventually wear in the seventh ring of hell ... The actor who played Boba Fett stood behind me while I was wearing the bikini, and he could see all the way to Florida."
14. Harrison Ford almost wasn't Han
It's difficult to imagine any other actor sitting in the pilot seat next to Chewbacca, but Harrison Ford actually wasn't George Lucas' first choice for the role of Han. Al Pacino was, but he turned it down because he found the script too confusing.
"I remember not understanding it when I read it," Pacino told MTV at the Toronto Film Festival in 2014. "It was at that time in my career where I was offered everything. I was in 'The Godfather.' They didn't care if I was right or wrong for the role, if I could act or not act."
13. His choice of roles
In the original "Star Wars" trilogy, the franchise's lead villain, Darth Vader, was played by British bodybuilder and championship weightlifter, David Prowse. Thanks to his large stature, Prowse was cast as Frankenstein's monster in "Casino Royale," the minotaur in "Doctor Who," and Alex's bodyguard, Julian, in "A Clockwork Orange." He reportedly caught George Lucas' eye in "A Clockwork," and was offered his choice of either Darth Vader or Chewbacca.
12. Wicket the Ewok
British actor Warwick Davis was born with a condition, called spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita, which caused him to develop dwarfism. So, when he was 11 and "Return of the Jedi" put out a call for actors under four feet, Davis jumped at the chance to audition. He was cast as an Ewok extra. But when the actor intended to play the lead Ewok fell ill, Davis was selected to step in as Wicket.
Warwick Davis in "Harry Potter"
Davis then went on to play both Charms Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook the Gringotts Goblin in "Harry Potter."
11. TIE fighter engines sound like elephants
If you think TIE fighter engines sound a bit like elephants, you're on to something. Sound designer Ben Burtt created their distinctive sound by combining distorted elephant bellows with the sounds of a car driving on wet pavement.
10. All he had to do was stand up
In the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them."
Chewbacca may be a Wookiee, but he isn't played by one. In all four "Star Wars" films where Han Solo's loyal associate, Chewie, appears, he's been played by a British-American actor, named Peter Mayhew, who stands 7'2'' tall. In fact, Mayhew has famously said that all he had to do to be cast in "A New Hope" was stand up.
At seven feet two inches, Peter Mahew (Chewbacca) is a staggering three feet and six inches taller than Kenny Baker (R2D2).
Here, the friends pose for pictures together outside the "Phantom Menace" premiere at London's Leicester square, July 14, 1999.
9. Cushing wore slippers in most scenes
Peter Cushing plays Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, the Commander of the Death Star in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope." Tarkin is so evil that he destroys the planet of Alderaan, even after Princess Leia has given him the information he wants. As it turns out, though, he may have been so ornery because his feet hurt.
The "Star Wars" wardrobe department reportedly gave Cushing boots that were far too small for him. So, he filmed every scene, in which his feet don't show, wearing slippers.
8. Jar Jar shrinks
You might only remember Jar Jar Binks -- the foolish Gungan banished from his tribe for clumsiness -- from "Episode I," but Binks actually appears in all three "Star Wars" prequel films. His comic relief duties were simply scaled back in the latter two films, after the overwhelmingly negative reaction to his character in the first. As such, the extent of his dialogue in "Episode III" is a meager two words: "'Scuse me."
7. The many faces of Darth Vader
David Prowse plays Darth Vader's body. James Earl Jones plays the villain's voice. And when Vader is unmasked in "Return of the Jedi," Sebastian Shaw plays his face.
It apparently takes a village -- or rather, a Galactic Empire -- to portray an iconic villain.
6. Darth Vader unmasked
Rumor has it that Prowse was under the impression he would finally be seen and heard when Vader is stripped of his mask at the end of "Return of the Jedi." He then butted heads with George Lucas a bit, when actor Sebastian Shaw was used instead.
5. The "Class of 2001"
George Lucas was such a fan of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that when it came time to make "Episode I," he hired almost its entire production crew. Because of that, they were referred to as the "Class of 2001" on set.
4. Ewoks are actually speaking Tibetan
Sound designer Ben Burtt created the Ewoks' distinctive language by combining Tibetan phrases with bits of Nepalese.
3. Really good at playing old
Ian McDiarmid, the actor who plays Emperor Palpatine in "Star Wars," is a highly lauded figure in the theater. He has starred in a multitude of Shakespearean plays, including "Hamlet," "King Lear," "The Tempest," and "The Merchant of Venice." He took home a Tony Award in 2006 for Best Featured Actor in the play, "Faith Healer." But it was his portrayal of a much older man in Sam Shepard's play, "Seduced" that convinced George Lucas he could play Emperor Palpatine.
2. The drama over the credits
In 1977, when "A New Hope" came out, the Directors Guild required all movies to begin with traditional opening credits. George Lucas had another vision for his "Star Wars" films, though. So, he paid a fine and resigned from the Guild, rather than do away with the now iconic crawl.
1. Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator
The personal communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn in "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was constructed from the resin cast of a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excel Razor. So, in this case, the "galaxy far, far away" is more like your girlfriend's shower.