5 Things You May Not Have Known About Star Wars

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It was an intergalactic bang. Forty years ago, back in 1977, the first of  George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hit American theaters. Here, we’ve put together a list of five interesting facts about the creation of the inaugural film.

Boasting almost $5 billion in revenue earned at the box office for the entire franchise – not to mention the ongoing cash flow generated by the plethora of Star Wars-related merchandise (light saber chopsticks or Darth Vader toaster anyone?)—it’s amazing to think that Universal Artists film studio actually passed on the film when creator George Lucas pitched it in the 1970s. Sure, in hindsight it seems a boneheaded business decision, but back then would you have agreed to back a somewhat convoluted “space opera” that takes place in a galaxy far, far away featuring robots, aliens and a creature called Chewbacca?

We’ve put together a list of five interesting facts about the creation of the inaugural film.

1. Would the real Darth Vader please stand up?
James Earl Jones’ iconic pipes provide the voice for Darth Vader, though despite the weighty role the actor’s name is nowhere to be found in the film’s credits. Jones was reportedly too modest about the size of his vocal duties to feel he warranted being credited as an actor. Instead, he considered his role more akin to that of a “special effect.” By the time the third film in the franchise came around, however, Jones’ name is listed. British muscleman David Prowse, however, is the person who actually donned the costume to physically portray Vader in the film.

2. What’s in a Name?
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t heard the name Luke Skywalker, but how about Luke Starkiller? That was the character’s original name, though it just doesn’t have that same classic ring to it.

3. The real-life Han Solo
Okay, maybe he’s doesn’t resemble Han Solo in every way, or most ways really, but it’s said that George Lucas based the rebel fighter on his friend (and fellow director) Francis Ford Coppola.

Another interesting piece of information is that, among the actors reportedly considered for the role were Kurt Russell, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Instead, Lucas and the studio took a chance on some unknown guy named Harrison Ford.

4. The music’s great, too
Much like the Star Wars brand and most of it’s main characters, the music from the film transcends pop culture to the point that even those who’ve never seen the films can likely identify the main theme. Legendary composer John Williams counts Star Wars among the list of films he wrote immediately identifiable scores for (Indiana Jones, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Superman are just a few examples of his well-known work). Not only did Williams win an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA award, and a Golden Globe for his original Star Wars music, but the score was chosen as the greatest of all time by the American Film Institute.

What do Chewbacca and Indiana Jones have in common?
Aside from both appearing in George Lucas-related films, both were also inspired in part by the director’s family dog. The shaggy canine provided the visual inspiration for Chewbacca, and lent its name, Indiana, to the thrill-seeking archeologist.