On this day (May 25) in 1977, the biggest film franchise of all time was born. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (then simply titled Star Wars) came out in cinemas, decimating box office records and arguably inventing the blockbuster. Now, exactly 40 years later, George Lucas’ (and now Disney’s) galactic empire has expanded its remit to include books, TV series, video games, comics, action figures, LEGO, board games and even a theme park.
To celebrate the 40th birthday of the sci-fi phenomenon, we’ve rounded up a load of brilliant Star Wars facts you might not know about the saga. Enjoy.
1. While filming Jabba The Hutt’s sail ship in Yuma, Arizona, a dune buggy festival, attracting 35000 fans, was occurring at the same time in the vicinity of the set.
2. Carrie Fisher (5’1) often had to stand on a box while filming with Harrison Ford (6’1) so she was caught in the shot.
3. The blizzard in the Hoth scenes was real. They were shot at Hardangerjøkulen glacier near Finse, Norway, and no special effects were used.
4. Jabba The Hutt was originally supposed to be in A New Hope, but the scene was cut because the special effects didn’t work properly.
5. Jabba’s puppet was so big that up to seven crew members were needed to operate it on set.
6. Darth Vader’s chest piece has Ancient Hebrew etched onto it. It reads: “His deeds will not be forgiven, until he merits”.
7. C-3PO is fluent in over six million different languages.
8. Yoda’s species name is entirely unknown to the Star Wars universe.
9. Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles were the only pilots of Red Squadron to survive all three original movies.
10. Darth Vader only appeared in 12 minutes of footage in the final cut of A New Hope.
11. Chewbacca was inspired by George Lucas’ old dog. It was an Alaskan Malamute, a large, furry breed that weighs around 130 pounds fully grown.
12. When Anakin fights the Tusken Raiders in Attack Of The Clones, Qui-Gon Jinn’s ghost in the background can be heard trying to stop Anakin from letting his fury take over.
13. AT-AT actually stands for All Terrain Armoured Transport.
14. The sound of the Millennium Falcon was created by recording the engines of a jet airliner.
15. The Falcon makes a cameo appearance in Revenge of the Sith, landing on Coruscant.
16. It is the fastest ship in the galaxy and can travel 25000 light years per day.
17. Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is actually a modified Gillette Ladies Sensor Excell razor.
— Jenny de Bruijn (@Jenzorsaurus) July 10, 2016
18. The majority of Stormtroopers are left-handed due to the construction of their prop guns. They are modeled on the Sterling L2A3 9mm SMG (sub-machine gun), a military weapon from the 1950s with the magazine located on the left hand side.
19. To create the visual effect of Luke ‘force-grabbing’ his lightsaber, Mark Hamill was asked to throw it across the set. The scenes were later reversed in post-production to acheive the required illusion.
20. James Earl Jones (Darth Vader voice) was so sure the film would be a flop that he refused to allow his name to be published on the original credits of A New Hope.
21. Sylvester Stallone originally auditioned for the role of Han Solo.
22. Cindy Williams and Jodi Foster also auditioned for the role of Princess Leia.
23. Kiera Knightley played Queen Amidala’s decoy in The Phantom Menace at the age of 12.
24. Only four actors reprised their roles from the original trilogy – Frank Oz (Yoda), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2).
25. Jack Purvis is the only actor to appear in all three originals as a different character – Teebo (Return of The Jedi), Chief Jawa (A New Hope) and Chief Ugnaught (The Empire Strikes Back).
26. According to Samuel L. Jackson, there was an engraving on the hilt of his lightsaber reading, “bad motherfucker”.
27. Tupac Shakur reportedly auditioned for the role of Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson).
28. Harrison Ford was paid $10,000 for his performance in A New Hope.
29. Yoda was originally going to be portrayed by a monkey carrying a cane and wearing a mask.
30. Alan Rickman auditioned for the role of Moff Jerjerrod, one of Vader’s imperial minions in Return Of The Jedi.
31. Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch passed on the chance to direct Return Of The Jedi.
32. E.T.’s species (Asogians) appears in The Phantom Menace at a political speech in the galactic senate.
— MG (@mofgimmers) May 11, 2017
33. A New Hope‘s was originally titled The Adventures of Luke Starkiller.
34. Bounty Hunter Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back wears a costume from a 1966 Doctor Who episode.
— GAME Perry Barr (@GAMEPerryBarr) May 4, 2017
35. Attack Of The Clones was filmed using the same stage as Moulin Rouge. Both starring Ewan McGregor.
36. Sifo-Dyas was originally called Sido-Dyas. The typo occurred because of the close proximity of F to D on the keyboard. George Lucas decided to keep it in.
37. Boba Fett was the one that told Darth Vader he had a son. It occurred in the interlude between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
38. The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” is in every single Star Wars film.
39. The word ‘ewok’ is never said out loud in a Star Wars movie.
40. George Lucas missed the 1977 Star Wars premiere because he was on holiday in Hawaii with Steven Spielberg.
Additional research by Charlie Small