Tickets sales are soaring for The Force Awakens (now officially on sale). Alas, the countdown to the newest entry in the Star Wars epic-sodes is here. With so much to remember, integrate and absorb one can easily lose his or her way but no need to stress this holiday season as these factoids collected from around the web will keep one grounded and might just win you a “gazzilion” dollars one day on a game show in a galaxy far, far away.
1. Lucas’s initial draft of the script was too long.
In 1973, Lucas submitted a 13-page treatment of his story, originally titled “The Star Wars,” to Universal Studios and United Artists. Both studios said ” NO THANKS” to a “far-flung, confusing sci-fi flight of fancy
2. Harrison Ford was cast as Han Solo by accident.
Lucas shared the seven-month-long casting sessions for Star Wars with his friend and fellow director Brian De Palma. Lucas saw dozens of actors—including a young Kurt Russell—for the part of Han, but liked Ford’s delivery feeding lines to the other actors he decided to give him the role.
3. Orson Welles was almost Darth Vader.
Lucas originally pined for the great Orson Welles to embody the voice of Darth Vader, but dropped the idea when he thought Welles’s famous baritone would be too recognizable.
4. Luke and Leia’s swing across the Death Star Chasm was real When it came time for Luke and Leia to perform the iconic swing over the Death Star chasm, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher had to do it themselves because the production couldn’t afford stunt doubles.
5. The original Millennium Falcon looked completely different.
The original concept for the Millennium Falcon was long and cylindrical—very unlike the flat design we know now. Lucas told them to modify it pronto wanting it to resemble a soaring burger.
6. Theaters didn’t want to show the movie. A A mere 40 theaters agreed to book showings of Star Wars after its release date was moved up to before Memorial Day (the studio thought it would bomb in a crowded summer movie slate)
7. Yoda originally had a first name.
Yoda was actually slated to be named “Buffy,” next it was “Minch Yoda,” and then shortened to just Yoda. Amen.
8. Han Solo’s best line was an ad lib.
In the immortalized Princess Leia and Han Solo exchange just prior to his his being frozen in carbonite moment, Leia laments, “I love you,” and Solo quips, “I know.” But the exchange wasn’t written that way. The script had Solo just responding, “I love you, too,” before potentially never seeing his true love again. But both Kershner and Ford agreed the line was all wrong for a charming rogue like Han Solo.
9. Han Solo was supposed to die.
Solo’s fate post carbonite was non-committal at best because Ford’s contract was only for two movies. When he did in fact return screenwriters Lucas and Kasdan were strongly urged to send Han Solo to the great beyond.
10. A little Ewok got his big break because of food poisoning.
11-year-old Warwick Davis was cast as a mere Ewok extra but when Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 and cast as the main Ewok named Wicket, got sick on the day of his Ewok scenes, Davis was asked to step in and play Wicket instead.