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That Time The First 'Star Wars' Blew Our Minds

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Bonus Star Wars fact: At the start of A New Hope, Chewbacca is 200 years old.

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The Star Wars Episode V - Empire Strikes Back

7. It took four men to portray one Vader

How do you capture a presence as big as Darth Vader? Cast four men. The on-screen body of Vader is six-foot-five bodybuilder David Prowse; his stunt double for action scenes is professional fencer Bob Anderson; the voice of Vader is the great James Earl Jones; and the de-helmeted face of Vader in Return of The Jedi is Sebastian Shaw. Love movie trivia? See if you know the answers to these questions everyone gets wrong.

8. “I am your father” was the best-kept secret in film

Get a load of one of these Star Wars facts: Lucas kept the twist ending of Empire so well guarded, he even wrote fake text in the script to throw the actors off. During filming, David Prowse (whose voice was later dubbed by James Earl Jones reciting the actual line) yelled to Mark Hamill: “Obi-Wan killed your father!” The cast and crew thought this was the real line—only Hamill, who had been told the truth about Vader moments before filming the scene, knew otherwise. If the secret leaked, it would all come back to Luke.

Bonus Star Wars fact: Of course, if you spoke Dutch or German, you’d already know by A New Hope that Darth Vader literally translates to “Darth Father."

9. It took seven men to portray one Jabba the Hutt

Named by some as the most expensive puppet in the world, the $500,000 Jabba the Hutt model required seven people to bring to life: “Three puppeteers were inside: one controlled the right arm and jaw, another handled the left hand and jaw, tongue, and head movements, and both of them moved the body; a third person was in the tail. Outside, there were one or two people on radio controllers for the eyes, someone under the stage to blow cigar smoke up a tube, and another working bellows for the lungs.”

Here are some more facts about the most expensive movie props and memorabilia out there.

10. Well, it just took one man to portray R2D2 and an Ewok

In less expensive news (but another one of these rare Star Wars facts), Kenny Baker, the man destined to live inside R2D2, also donned the bear suit to play an Ewok in Return of The Jedi. He plays Paploo—the enterprising Ewok who steals an imperial speeder bike.

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Bonus Star Wars fact: The word “Ewok” is never mentioned once in the original trilogy (though they do get a credit at the end.) Plus, you'll never guess what >Return of the Jedi's original working title was.

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ewoks_star wars facts

11. The Ewok’s anthem has a classic rock connection

The final victory song sung by the Ewoks at the end of Jedi was written by the same dude who wrote “Africa”: Joseph Williams, lead singer of Toto and son of legendary composer John Williams. I guess it rains down in Eeeendoooooore…

Bonus Star Wars fact: In other surprising composition news, the new Cantina music featured in The Force Awakens was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda—the creator and original star of current Broadway smash hit Hamilton.

12. Other notable noises: bears, walruses, and all the cell doors on Alcatraz

Kids should thank sound designer Ben Burtt for some of the most memorable noises of their childhood. Want to know how he did it? The sound of Darth Vader’s breathing was recorded by putting a microphone inside a scuba tank regulator; Chewbacca’s signature Wookie gargle is a combination of bear, walrus, lion, and badger sounds. The sound of Vader’s pod door closing in Empire is reportedly the sound of a whole block of Alcatraz cell doors slamming shut.

13. George Lucas lost a $40 million bet to Steven Spielberg

Another one of these little-known Star Wars facts? In the late ‘70s, Lucas was working on A New Hope at the same time his buddy Steven Spielberg was working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Visiting the Close Encounters set one day, Lucas reportedly fell into a panic, Spielberg says:

“He said, ‘Oh my God, your movie is going to be so much more successful than Star Wars! This is gonna be the biggest hit of all time. I can’t believe this set.’ He said, ‘All right, I’ll tell you what. I’ll trade some points with you. I’ll give you 2.5 percent of Star Wars if you give me 2.5 percent of Close Encounters.’ So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll gamble with that.'”

Gamble is right. Star Wars made $775 million at the global box office compared with Close Encounters’ $304 million. Adjusted for inflation, TIME reports, “Spielberg’s edge could come out to as much as $40 million.”

The kicker? Lucas actually made good on his bet. (Doesn't hurt when you're a billionaire.)

Next, check out these >Star Wars facts everyone gets wrong. And may the Force be with you.


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