Today is May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day by fans of the franchise. (Because… May the Fourth be with… you get it.) In honor of this joyous occasion, the SquareTrade team has compiled 7 lesser-known facts about Star Wars and its production. Check them out:
Chewbacca’s voice comprises of “sick animals,” among other sounds.
Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt created the voice of beloved Wookiee Chewbacca (nicknamed Chewy) by combining a bear’s roar with “walruses and lions and badgers and sick animals.” He focused on the emotion each animal conveyed with its call while also crafting a sound that made sense with Chewy’s mouth, which opened and closed but couldn’t form words the way humans can.
The actor who embodied Darth Vader in the original trilogy has been banned from Star Wars events.
David Prowse, who acted as Darth Vader in the original trilogy (though James Earl Jones provided the character’s notoriously deep voice), is not allowed to attend Star Wars events like conventions. Allegedly, Lucas Film barred Prowse for “burning to many bridges” with the company.
Yoda almost had a different name.
Well, kind of—he was nearly “Buffy Yoda,” rather than simply “Yoda.” Star Wars creator George Lucas couldn’t have known when he wrote the saga’s initial scripts that “Buffy” would go on to become an iconic name in its own right thanks to Joss Whedon’s 1992 film and, later, TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The original trilogy has unexpected Stanley Kubrick ties.
Stanley Kubrick, the innovative director of films including 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining, is said to be something of an idol to Lucas. In fact, Lucas was so impressed with 2001 that he hired several crewmembers from the film to work on the first Star Wars. Years later, sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, shared a studio wall with The Shining while the two were filming at London’s Elstree Studios.
That famous lightsaber sound? It’s actually feedback from an old TV.
Sound designer Burtt is credited with devising creative solutions for Star Wars’ many sound effects challenges. His innovations include using a baby’s coos for R2-D2’s signature beeps and whistles, and using a movie projector along with feedback from an old TV to achieve the electric whoosh of a swinging lightsaber. (You may also know it as the sound that haunted the playgrounds of your childhood.)
With Special Guest, This Potato.
When pilot Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon makes a daring escape from Empire ships in The Empire Strikes Back, Solo faces the added challenge of navigating the Hoth Asteroid Belt on his way out.
The film’s special effects team, unsure of how to make believable asteroids for the sequence, ultimately used spray-painted potatoes and even a shoe (allegedly a special effects artist threw it in during a moment of frustration with Lucas) to get the job done.
Coming soon: Blue Harvest.
By the time the third film in the original Star Wars saga, Return of the Jedi, was filming, the cast and crew had to go to extraordinary lengths to keep the storyline under wraps (and prevent super fans from sneaking on set). One tactic involved using Blue Harvest as the working title to minimize excitement when filming notices were posted at various shooting locations.
Fun fact: the production team added Blue Harvest tagline “Horror Beyond Imagination” to really sell the fake film.
Now that you know a few of the Star Wars saga’s many secrets, you can go into the galaxy on this day with your head held high. May the fourth be with you.
By: Hannah Ashe