Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher hated this costume from "The Empire Strikes Back" — although perhaps not as much as her metal bikini from "Return of the Jedi." Credit: Lucasfilm

— Amazingly, the first “Star Wars” isn’t the film that's sold the most movie tickets. It’s only number 2. Over its various reissues, the movie that started the franchise sold an estimated 178 million tickets. “Gone with the Wind,” however, has sold 202 million, making it number one.

— How much do you love Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi? Well, let’s hope you never had the chance to tell him that to his face. The late English actor didn’t hate the movie — his feelings were maybe a little closer to mixed — but he didn’t enjoy the intense levels of fame it afforded him. A famous story, which Guinness told in his memoir “A Positively Final Performance,” has a bright-eyed 12-year-old boy going up to him, only to have the actor ask him, “Do you think you could promise never to see ‘Star Wars’ again?” Then the boy cried.

— Harrison Ford got the “Star Wars” gig while he was moonlighting as a carpenter. He’d worked for George Lucas before, back in “American Graffiti,” but his acting career wasn’t going too well. To make ends meet, he’d taken up carpentry, and he’d been hired to build an elaborate entrance for Francis Ford Coppola’s offices. As Ford once told us, while he was putting it up, Lucas passed by him en route to do an interview with Richard Dreyfuss. The two hadn’t seen each other in years, they got to talking and suddenly Lucas was asking him to read for the part, too. And this is why everyone knows who Harrison Ford is.

— Everyone expected “Star Wars” to fail. There was so little support that the production could only afford to fly the cast to the shoot in coach, not first class. When Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher’s mom, found out, she called George Lucas to complain. After a few minutes, Fisher, who was in the room with Lucas, grabbed the phone and told her, “Mother, I want to fly coach, will you f— off?” Then she hung up.


— We nearly got a Darth Vader with the voice of Orson Welles. We, of course, didn’t — we got James Earl Jones. But Lucas considered Welles, then decided his voice was too recognizable. And now we can’t hear James Earl Jones speak without thinking of Darth Vader.

— Yoda was almost played by Jim Henson. George Lucas wanted his friend to bring his genius to “The Empire Strikes Back.” But Henson was busy making “The Great Muppet Caper.” What he did, though, was recommend one of his colleagues, Frank Oz, to do the puppet and voicework instead. And the rest is history.

— When Han and Leia arrive in Cloud City in “The Empire Strikes Back,” they look happy — maybe a little too happy. Here’s why: They were drunk. The night before, Carrie Fisher — who was crashing at a house she rented from Eric Idle — went partying with the Monty Python crew, who were back in town. They had been shooting “Life of Brian” in Africa, and Idle brought back a potent beverage he called “Tunisian Table Cleaner.” They stayed up most of the night, and by the time they were on set the next day they were still buzzing. As one would.

— One reason Han is frozen in carbonite at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back”? Harrison Ford did not want to play Han again. He was tired of the franchise, and there was a chance he might not sign on for what would become “Return of the Jedi.” When he did agree to return, he wanted Lucas to kill him off during the rescue attempt that opens the film. Indeed, “Jedi” was initially supposed to be a far darker film, before Lucas changed his mind and brought in a bunch of cute Ewoks to close out the trilogy on a high note.

— Peter Mayhew, who plays Chewbacca, thought he might die making “Return of the Jedi.” The forest Endor scenes were filmed in California’s Redwood National Forest, and he thought hunters might mistake a large man walking around in a giant furry costume as Bigfoot

— There’s a reason (of sorts) for why Carrie Fisher spent part of the opening stretch of “Jedi” in that metal bikini. The actress complained about her costumes during the first two films. They were so big or drab that they hid her curves, she said. By “Jedi,” she found herself in a costume that was too revealing — which she would rightly complain about for years afterwards.


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