Most lists of the best cinematic villains have Darth Vader near the top. His iconic black costume and helmet as well as his disturbing breathing made him a terrifying presence. However, there’s something more intimidating than a Sith Lord and that’s a Hollywood director.
George Lucas wrote the script but Irvin Kershner directed The Empire Strikes Back. It’s one of the greatest movies of all time and remains the shining jewel in the Star Wars canon. Here Kershner issues directions to David Prowse, the man who wore Darth Vader’s costume (via Looper).
This is another great candid shot of Carrie Fisher enjoying a nap in Finse, Norway. The crew traveled to Finse, Norway for the icy Hoth scenes in Episode V. They endured tough conditions including a harsh blizzard but it wasn’t a complete nightmare for the cast.
Fisher takes advantage of a break between scenes to steal a nap on a snowmobile. Amazingly, she managed to make herself comfortable in this position as she stretches out. The itinerary was exhausting and took it out of her every day (via The Mary Sue).
Here are some of the prop designers working on one of Hoth’s landscapes. One of the most noticeable aspects is the miniature figure of Han Solo on a Tauntaun. He famously rode the animal to Luke Skywalker’s rescue before cutting it open for body heat.
It’s very interesting to see how the crew made these miniatures and used them in conjunction with real locations. The talent and filmmakers also went to Norway for live-action scenes. The combination of the two creates that distinctive Star Wars feeling (via Nerdist).
Everybody dreams of being a movie star but it isn’t always easy. Peter Mayhew will agree because he had a tough time in the role of Chewbacca. Firstly, the costume was very heavy but it also retained a lot of heat. He wore four different versions of the suit for various purposes (via Wired).
There was a special half-suit with extra details that Mayhew wore during close-ups. Then there were three full-size suits that he used throughout the process. Meanwhile, they required a lot of maintenance and care. Costume designers used lots of hairspray and beauty products to maintain the Wookie’s hair.
Dagobah is one of the most important Star Wars planets because it’s where Luke Skywalker meets Yoda. The wise, ancient Jedi Master taught his young student the ways of the Force. Meanwhile, the filmmakers made a full-size Dagobah set in an incredible effort.
This great behind-the-scenes photo shows a banquet that took place beside the set. The entire crew enjoyed a meal together to celebrate their work. It’s nice that they have this experience together and bond in a more casual manner. However, it’s a creepy place to sit (via Culture Slate).
Luke Skywalker faces mortal peril at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back because a Wampa takes him prisoner. Here’s an image of a full-size Wampa ice creature costume from the second original Star Wars movie. The beast is massive and towers over the people beside it.
Fortunately, these creatures are fictional because they represent a terrifying prospect. There is also a ‘dead’ life-size Tauntaun beside them. Star Wars won significant praise because it used so many practical effects. These massive models provide a heightened sense of reality (via SyFy).
Here are Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as nobody saw them before. It’s safe to say that the Empire may not have taken the former seriously if he wore that sweater in the movies. We can see Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill learning their lines and reading the script in this classic image (via Entertainment Weekly).
Neither Ford nor Hamill were stars before the trilogy. Ford had a relationship with George Lucas after working with him on American Graffiti. Meanwhile, Hamill appeared in multiple TV shows and movies but hadn’t made it in Hollywood. The Star Wars franchise changed their lives forever and made them household names.
At this point, it’s safe to say that Ian McDiarmid could play Emperor Palpatine in his sleep. The Scottish actor brought a Shakespearian quality to the role and oozed menace. He didn’t have a lot of physical work to do but used his voice to produce unbelievable menace.
In this picture, Director Richard Marquand works with McDiarmid in one of his scenes. The pair collaborated in Star Wars Episode VI to great effect. Arguably, Return of the Jedi is the weakest of the original trilogy but the Emperor’s scenes were a highlight (via Inverse).
Hamill, Ford, and Fisher didn’t have many scenes together as a trio after the first Star Wars movie. However, they spent time together in Norway when they filmed the Hoth scenes. Here’s a great shot of them posing in their costumes as Hamill sits on a replica Tauntaun.
Fisher is beaming as she poses with her fellow cast members while Hamill is also grinning. Ford cuts a more stoic appearance but that’s typical of the famously grumpy actor. The latter developed a hatred of the movies and even wanted George Lucas to kill him off (via Goliath).
It’s easy to forget that George Lucas only directed the first of the original Star Wars trilogy. But he remained the main creative force that drove the project forward. Star Wars became the most successful film franchise on the planet and Lucas was its emperor.
In this photo, Lucas lingers behind Palpatine’s throne as a scene develops. Luke Skywalker confronts the Emperor in a dramatic moment. The image quality isn’t fantastic but the moment is fascinating. This is a brilliant piece of cinematic history and fans will appreciate it (via Polygon).
Han Solo and Princess Leia’s relationship is one of the most beautiful storylines in the entire Star Wars franchise. Fascinatingly, the actors that played the famous duo also had a love affair behind the scenes. However, Carrie Fisher said that she regretted the decision because of the intensity.
Fisher was only 19 at the time when she had a three-month affair with 33-year-old Ford. Furthermore, the latter was a married father-of-two at the time so it was a terrible idea. The pair developed genuine chemistry and spent the night together for the first time after George Lucas’s birthday party (via People).
One thing that Star Wars does better than almost any other sci-fi franchise is creating aliens and creatures. These have distinctive appearances with fascinating backgrounds and development. Here are many of the aliens from the iconic Mos Eisley cantina scene (via Star Wars).
Extras wore these costumes in the movie when Luke and Obi-Wan met Han Solo for the first time. The level of detail is amazing because there’s a reason behind each aesthetic choice. Most of these creatures reoccur throughout the entire franchise in other forms of media.
Casual Star Wars fans won’t know Peter Mayhew but diehards love him. It’s easy not to know who he is because he wore a costume all of the time. But he brilliantly brought Chewbacca to life and made the Wookie a key figure in the Star Wars franchise.
This photograph shows that Mayhew was all smiles beneath his hairy suit. He shares a happy moment with the costume director and shows the fun side of his personality. We remember the faces of Fisher, Hamill, and Ford but Mayhew’s Chewie is also a beloved figure (via The Guardian).
Luke and Han find themselves on the Death Star in the original Star Wars movie. Then they rescue the beautiful Princess Leia from captivity. One famous shot saw Luke and Leia swing across a bridge on a swinging cable. In the film, a fall would have cost them their lives.
Luckily, movie studios aren’t as dangerous as battle stations. The reality was that they stood on a bridge that was about three feet off the ground. It’s not quite as dramatic as the movie because it convinces fans that they’re in mortal peril (via Economic Times).
Everybody knows that George Lucas created the vision behind the Star Wars universe. But another man had a crucial role in the franchise’s creation. This was Gary Kurtz, a producer who worked with Lucas and convinced Universal to support American Graffiti.
After the latter’s success, the pair continued their collaboration and worked on the first Star Wars film. It was a massive success and made Kurtz’s career. Lucas was a dreamer but Kurtz had the business acumen to make it happen. The two had a perfect balance in their primes (via Film Threat).
We saw Deep Roy’s physical depiction of Yoda on Dagobah in the original Star Wars trilogy. However, fans associate another man with the wise old Jedi Master. Most people think of Frank Oz as the actor behind the tiny green alien because he provided his distinctive voice.
Millions of people imitated Yoda’s unique speech patterns but Oz was the original. He was also a puppeteer and brilliantly moveRemarkably, scenes. Remarkably, he was more convincing than the CGI version that Lucas created for the prequel trilogy (via Hollywood Reporter).
The very first scene of the original Star Wars trilogy shows an Imperial Star Destroyer in pursuit of a Rebel blockade runner. This iconic moment stunned audiences around the world who had never seen anything like this before in a movie theatre.
Here is a great behind-the-scenes shot of Lucas standing behind a replica Star Destroyer. The scale of the ship is massive as it is longer than a human being. Lucas steered the massive vehicle to produce a sense of realism and threat as it chased Princess Leia’s ship (via Technology Review).
Arguably, the most dramatic moment of the entire franchise is when Darth Vader reveals to Luke that he is the latter’s father. It’s a shocking scene because Vader is the epitome of evil. Meanwhile, Luke’s life hangs by a thread as he tries to escape from the Dark Lord (via New Yorker).
The picture above shows the work that goes into producing these scenes. It’s remarkable to see the size of the studio that they use because they produced a massive set. Vader isn’t wearing his helmet at this moment either while there are no less than nine people around them.
This photo shows Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew hanging out in their Star Wars costumes. First, it’s clear how tall Mayhew was because he holds Fisher like she is a child. The late pair had a close bond and regularly spent time together on the set.
Mayhew’s wife revealed the extent of their connection. She said: “Carrie had a habit. She would walk over to Peter. She’d crawl up on his lap, and they had a thing. It wasn’t unusual, it was normal for them.” This platonic bond was beautiful and it’s a tragedy that they’ve left this world (via EOnline).
Carrie Fisher wasn’t the only woman to wear that infamous gold bikini in Return of the Jedi. She also had a stunt double, Tracey Eddon, who wore the iconic outfit in key scenes. Here is a great shot of Fisher relaxing with Eddon after the two became friends.
The actress loathed the outfit because it hypersexualized her in front of a giant space slug. But there was an upside to the costume between takes. They filmed these scenes in California and there were plenty of downtime to enjoy sunbathing (via Vintage News Daily).
Star Wars famously created many spaceships and vehicles with an incredible level of detail. But there’s something else to think about these props. Designers also created special versions for specific scenes where they incurred damage (via PC Gamer).
This is a fantastic example of a special TIE fighter that suffered damage during a space battle. They made the carnage as specific as possible with a melted wing and creased bodywork. We’re glad that we’re not the pilot flying that ship because it wouldn’t end well!
Here’s an early take from Yoda’s house on Dagobah. We can see the puppeteer, Frank Oz, and Star Wars create George Lucas running through the scene. It’s fascinating to see the size of Yoda compared to Lucas as well as the polished stools that didn’t feature in the movie.
This behind-the-scenes shot shows the preparation that goes into a movie. They’re checking to see if Oz can manipulate his puppet easily within the set. It appears that everything is working smoothly but the conversation is serious (via IGN).
Carrie Fisher shows her sensitive side in this photo with a young Warwick Davis. The latter starred as Wicket, an Ewok in Episode VI. It was a breakout role for the young actor who appeared in a host of movies throughout his life. He suffered from dwarfism but made the best of it by entering Hollywood (via Metro).
Fisher gazes at Davis with a maternal expression on her face. Many of her former costars said that she was an extremely kind person and this shines through her image. Meanwhile, Davis appears to be very comfortable and it’s safe to say many fans would love to be in his position!
This is a phenomenal image that shows the creation of a Star Wars battlefield. Set designers painted background images that enhance the scale of the landscape. Meanwhile, they produced a rugged plateau with trapdoors that allow them to move props around.
They also have model AT-AT walkers, one of the most terrifying Star Wars vehicles. It’s phenomenal to see the work that went into these scenes because these movies hold up so well today. Many people think that the original trilogy aged better than the later prequel films (via Futurism).
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher had a great relationship and bonded very quickly. There are rumors that the pair even had a romantic relationship but nothing as intense as Fisher’s affair with Harrison Ford. They loved to joke around between scenes and had fun with George Lucas too (via N.Y. Post).
Hamill said that Fisher tolerated his “juvenile high-jinks, even when she wasn’t in the mood.” It’s safe to say that the pair maintained a close bond and had a life-long friendship. It devastated Hamill when Fisher passed away in 2016 but he’ll always have tons of beautiful memories.
Lucas wanted to ensure that everybody felt happy on the set and shared special moments. Sir. Alec Guinness was the epitome of professionalism but even he enjoyed celebrating his birthday on set. He didn’t want to do anything to mark the day but the director surprised him with a cake.
These moments bring the cast and crew together in an important way. Remember, they traveled to the scorching hot Tunisian desert for the scene above. This was a draining experience because of the intensity of the sun and the schedule (via Hollywood Reporter).
The Star Wars crew traveled around the world to far-flung locations in search of the perfect shot. However, this meant that they faced many struggles because nature wasn’t always kind. In this scene, the camera crew is in the desert but they are dealing with problems.
We can see that they enshrouded the camera in a clear plastic bag. Furthermore, they are wearing goggles because the wind blew the sand everywhere. It represented a risk to the equipment and also to their eyes. Filmmaking isn’t always as glamorous as the fans expect (via Signiant).
This is another insight into Hamill and Fisher’s close relationship. It’s a signed photograph that shows the pair of them beaming as they take pleasure from each other’s company. Many film stars make life-long friendships when they work together on big franchises.
That’s because they spend a lot of time together on location for several years. The casts of the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings franchises also maintain close bonds because of the intensity of their experiences. It’s a beautiful thing that most people can’t understand unless they were there (via Yahoo).
Mark Hamill said that he found the prospect of working with Alec Guinness very intimidating. The latter was an established legend while Hamill was at the beginning of his career. However, he said that the veteran British star was always a gentleman and had great patience for his colleagues.
It must have helped that Hamill is one of the most likable people on the planet. He always has a smile on his face and wanted to create a positive atmosphere on the set. The young star had a good relationship with Guinness and this shone through the movie (via CNet).
The Empire Strikes Back presented some of the most emotional scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy. Here we see Ford, Fisher, and Billy Dee Williams on the Bespin set. This is where Lando Calrissian betrayed his friend because of the threat of Darth Vader.
It’s also where Leia and Han declare their love together for the first time. In this photo, Williams is drinking a cup of Joe between takes while Ford and Fisher goof around. The atmosphere appears to be positive with the director, Irvin Kershner, behind the camera (via Esquire).
Harrison Ford didn’t have to deal with the same wardrobe woes as Carrie Fisher. However, some fans thought there was an exception in Episode V when Darth Vader froze him in carbonite. Many people didn’t realize that Alan Harris was the man underneath all of the paste.
Here we can see the costume team caking paste onto Harris’s face. Harris also played the bounty hunter Bossk in the series. This makeup work took a lot of time but it was very effective. It also added emotional depth to one of the most devastating moments in the entire franchise (via Slash Film).
This behind-the-scenes photograph shows the three main cast members in their regular civilian clothes. Ford wears a stylish suit while Hamill’s shirt choice is questionable. Meanwhile, it’s not the most flattering picture of Fisher because it caught her at a strange moment.
A pair of extras dressed in Stormtrooper gear stand guard behind the trio. This may have been a promotional event because their clothing is quite formal. However, Fisher isn’t wearing a dress so it’s not a premiere. Nonetheless, it’s another moment of Star Wars history that fans can remember forever (via NBC).
Here is a close-up photograph of Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine. Fans barely see his face in the original Star Wars trilogy because he always wears a cowl. Nonetheless, a lot of work went into his makeup as we can see from the picture below.
The Revenge of the Sith (2005) revealed how he suffered facial disfiguration. However, fans had no idea when they watched the original trilogy. One of the joys of this was that so much was unknown and this allowed viewers to create their own stories (via TCM).
Imperial Star Destroyers are the most terrifying ships in the Star Wars universe because they are a symbol of evil. This behind-the-scenes photo shows the crew working with a model spacecraft as they used practical effects. However, they also have a bluescreen behind them so that they could add the landscape later.
This was incredibly advanced technology at the time and holds up well today. The original Star Wars trilogy aged well because it didn’t over-rely on computers and CGI. They won many awards because of their use of cutting-edge resources and special effects (via Studio Binder).
Star Wars would have been a different franchise if Princess Leia had fallen in love with Chewbacca instead of Han Solo. Here is a classic photo of Carrie Fisher pretending to kiss her co-star Peter Mayhew. The pair wear their costumes in one of the most confusing images ever.
It’s a funny moment but it also shows the bond that existed between Fisher and her gentle giant friend, Mayhew. Many fans forget about the latter because he always wore his Chewie outfit but he played a crucial role. He also provided Fisher with an important platonic friendship (via Digital Spy).
These scenes show the Star Wars cast and crew on location in Tunisia. They filmed many of the Tatooine scenes in the North African country because of the unique landscape and architecture. It’s a fantastic setting and one that many fans visit today (via Far Out Magazine).
However, it wasn’t the easiest place to bring props and equipment because of the conditions. Spare a thought for Anthony Daniels beneath that C-3PO outfit because of the desert heat. Matt Hamill and Alec Guinness didn’t have it as bad but it was still tough.
Sir. Alec Guinness suffered in the tough Tunisian conditions because of the heat and sandstorms. Here he attempts to protect himself from the elements with a traditional headdress. However, he was no stranger to this because he worked in Jordan and Syria on Lawrence of Arabia (1962).
Here he is deep in discussion with George Lucas about the film. Guinness didn’t think much of the Star Wars universe and didn’t want to return to the franchise. But he felt that he owed a debt to Lucas and that’s why he came back for Episodes V and VI (via Far Out).
Han Solo claimed that the Falcon was the fastest ship in the Galaxy and completed the Kessel Run in fewer than 12 parsecs. It remains one of the most iconic spacecraft from any sci-fi movie and appeared in many other Star Wars mediums (via CNet).
This behind-the-scenes photograph shows a special-effects expert manipulating a giant model of the Falcon. This was extraordinarily difficult but it worked brilliantly in the movie. This starship has a special place in the hearts of every Star Wars fan.
Darth Vader was the main villain in the original Star Wars movie but another man stole several scenes. We’re talking about Peter Cushing’s representation of Grand Moff Tarkin. He was almost scarier than Vader because he was visibly human but acted in a reprehensible manner.
Like Alec Guinness, Cushing elevated the movie franchise. He developed a background in horror movies and delivered his lines with aplomb. Cushing’s drawn cheekbones and menacing voice made him the perfect accomplice to Vader’s brooding presence (via Times).
Many people don’t realize that the man beneath Darth Vader’s costume was a bodybuilder. He became a weightlifting champion in his native UK before moving into the film industry. Then George Lucas spotted him and offered him a choice between playing Chewbacca or the evil Sith Lord.
This photo proves how big Prowse was as he towers over the other man in the photo. Prowse came from a working-class background and never took his fame for granted. He also starred in A Clockwork Orange before he made his Star Wars franchise debut (via Sky News).
Lightsaber fights are some of the most iconic moments in the Star Wars franchise. Every movie has at least one that fans remember and recreated. The sound and distinctive bright colors of the laser swords made them a popular gift choice for children around the world.
This photo reveals a clash between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. The real lightsaber battle wasn’t as dramatic as the movies because they used rods. Then the special effects team manipulated the swords and made them appear to be shining lasers. Now they’re a legendary weapon (via Game Rant).
The end of Return of the Jedi saw Luke Skywalker defeat Darth Vader after a dramatic battle. Here we see the young Jedi cast down his father before the Emperor attempts to turn him to the Dark Side. But an immense amount of production went into this iconic moment.
We can easily count 10 people standing around the set as they make this scene happen. This photograph provides an amazing insight into the filmmaking process. A glance at a movie’s credits shows that hundreds of people combine efforts to create a movie (via Space.com).
There’s nothing quite like being on a Star Wars set because it transports actors to a new world. This photo shows the pure joy on Harrison Ford’s face when he stepped onto the Millenium Falcon. They built a full-size cockpit that enabled them to film realistic scenes with their cast.
Carrie Fisher beams beside Ford as a camera captures the pair’s bliss. It’s moments like these that provide a movie with soul because it means the process was healthy. This scene came from Episode V when the pair spent a lot of time on the Falcon. It’s difficult to separate them from this franchise (via Gizmodo).
It’s nice to know that the three main Star Wars actors maintained a good relationship in real life. There are always horror stories about cast members hating each other. But that wasn’t the case in the original trilogy because they had a close connection.
This picture captures the trio in a canteen enjoying some downtime. It’s the eighties because there is an ashtray in front of them. Meanwhile, Ford is enjoying what appears to be a cup of coffee. If we didn’t know that they were famous we’d think they were just regular friends hanging out (via The Things).
We’ve spoken a lot about the challenges that the cast and crew confronted in Tunisia during A New Hope. However, the desert landscape entranced Lucas after he read Frank Herbert’s Dune. The latter held a slight resentment toward Lucas because of his success.
Lawrence of Arabia also had a profound impact on the franchise because of the stunning desert shots. In this scene, we see Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill in an early scene from the original movie. The crew is hard at work around them as they capture the perfect shot (via Inverse).
George Lucas and Mark Hamill are the two most important figures in Star Wars history. The former created wrote and directed significant chunks of the universe. Meanwhile, Hamill played the original trilogy’s main character, Luke Skywalker in a career-defining turn.
Lucas made Hamill a star but he also depended on his actor to bring the character to life. This early photograph shows the pair on set discussing a scene. It’s a fantastic moment and a great insight into their dynamic during the filmmaking process (via The Playlist).
Alec Guinness’s screen time diminished in the latter movies of the original trilogy. But they still provided crucial moments in guiding Luke Skywalker on his journey. Here we see Guinness and Hamill in an intense conversation about the script in a behind-the-scenes photograph.
This was during Return of the Jedi when Luke returned to Dagobah after helping to rescue Han Solo. It’s an emotional moment because Yoda dies and then he reconnects with Obi-Wan Kenobi. This is a defining moment in the young Jedi knight’s life (via Digital Spy).
The Ewoks are one of the most notorious alien species in the Star Wars universe. Originally, George Lucas wanted to create a race of lizard people on Endor. However, the studio pressured him to use a more child-friendly design because they wanted to sell toys.
The cuddly bear-like aliens became a polarizing part of Episode VI. Some people love them but others think that they signaled the beginning of the franchise’s decline. Here we can see the actors who wore the Ewoks’ suits during these noteworthy scenes (via Ranker).
Diehard fans know that Lando Calrissian owned the Millenium Falcon before he lost it to Han Solo in a game of Sabaac. Here we see Billy Dee Williams, Fisher, and another actor on the ship. Williams has one of the most famous smiles in Hollywood and here it is in full force.
We love the seats that appear as though they came from a DeLorean. It looks like Fisher is right at home as she sits in the co-pilot’s chair. Chewbacca’s presence is notably absent but we can see blue screen around the cockpit. It’s a great insight into life on this iconic starship (via Fascinations).