Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi: Things You May Not Know

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

  • Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was released on May 25, 1983.
  • 40 years later, there are still surprising facts to be learned about the sequel.
  • Here are seven things you might not know about Return of the Jedi.

Return of the Jedi originally had a different title.

Title card “Star Wars: Revenge of the Jedi” from the original trailer.

Yes, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy almost had a completely different title: Revenge of the Jedi, which sounds much more serious. Watch the original teaser here.

In the “Empire of Dreams” documentary, it was discussed that author George Lucas initially wanted to use the title “Return” but co-writer Lawrence Kasdan thought it was too weak – which is why they played with “Revenge”.

It’s easy to see why Lucas almost went with “Revenge” following up on the devastating scene of the previous film, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Posters and merchandise were produced with the title “Revenge,” but Lucas realized the Jedi wouldn’t actively seek revenge, so the title would clash with what Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has become.

Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg almost directed Return of the Jedi.

Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, and David Cronenberg.
Bruce Glykas/WireImage/Steve Granitz/WireImage/Juan Naharro Gimenez/WireImage

While George Lucas directed 1977’s A New Hope, he didn’t sit in the director’s chair on “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Return of the Jedi.” And when it came to the end of the trilogy, there were some surprising names on the slate before Richard Marquand took over.

Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg, Twin Peaks creator David Lynch and horror maestro David Cronenberg competed.

Lucas originally offered Steven Spielberg the job, but because Lucas had left the Directors Guild of America due to moving the “Empire Strikes Back” director’s credit to the end of the film (via Variety), the “Jaws” director wasn’t allowed to take the job.

The creator also met with Lynch about the sequel, but stated to the Hudson Union Society that he was “close to not interested” in the film. He even talked about getting a migraine after Lucas talked to him about Wookiees and other “Star Wars” aliens.

Cronenberg was also asked if he’d be interested in directing a sequel, but unfortunately The Fly’s director told Entertainment Weekly that he responded to the phone call with “youthful” arrogance.

“Well, I’m not in the habit of doing other people’s material,” Cronenberg recalled saying. “And there was an amazing silence and then ‘click’ — hung up. Basically, that was the closest I got.”

ET The sounds of Princess Leia… sort of.

Carrie Fisher as Leia/Bouchh and ET the Extra-Terrestrial.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox/Universal

At the start of the film, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) breaks into Jabba’s palace to free Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from his carbon prison. Before she is forced into that famous golden bikini, she disguises herself as a male bounty hunter named Boushh, and the voice that comes out of Boushh’s helmet is none other than Pat Welsh.

Welles has only two other acting credits to her name, an uncredited appearance in 1940’s “Waterloo Bridge,” and ET in Steven Spielberg’s “ET the Extra-Terrestrial.”

So yeah, ET has voiced Princess Leia in a very underdeveloped way.

The rancor at Jabba’s palace was originally a costume rather than a waqf model.

Hatred eats bone in Jabba’s palace.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

While practical effects expert Phil Tippett and his team can be credited with bringing the apocalyptic malevolence to life in “Return of the Jedi,” thanks to stop-motion effects and a puppet, George Lucas originally wanted to use an artist in costume to bring the monster to life.

In an interview posted to the “Star Wars” YouTube channel, industrial effects and light & magic artist Dennis Morin explained how Tippett created a costume that could be operated by multiple people – with footage showing what the suit looked like swinging set.

Morin noted that “it doesn’t move right, it has all the problems of things in big suits that have to react to gravity and just notifications. It’s like big marionettes”. That’s why the team went with a doll of hate.

Carrie Fisher gave Warwick Davis milk and cookies on set.

Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) gives Wicket (Warwick Davis) some food.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

“Star Wars” fans have a great deal of love for the late Princess Leia actress, Carrie Fisher, as her character became a pop culture icon as a result of the original movie trilogy.

But according to Warwick Davis, she was also incredibly nice when he worked with her on the movie.

The 53-year-old actor was only 11 years old when he played Wicket the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, but he has fond memories of Fisher during filming.

Speaking to Metro in 2019, he said, “She was such a lovely lady, it’s sad that she is no longer with us. I enjoyed working with her and she was so lovely to me when I was dressed as an Ewok.”

Davis added, “She was very concerned about how hot the character was. And every time I would pop the character’s head off, just so I could get some air, she’d be there with some chocolate milk and a cookie to kind of revive me.”

Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber was a different color.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) wields a blue lightsaber on Jabba’s barge.
YouTube/Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

In both “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) wields his father’s ancient blue lightsaber, but when Luke appears as a full-power user in “Return of the Jedi,” he wields a green saber.

It’s clearly a sign of him becoming stronger with his abilities and as a Jedi, but in the original trailer for the movie, Luke was wielding a blue blade instead of a green one.

The official “Star Wars” YouTube channel notes in the video’s description that the goal is to create “a more visual pop against the backdrop of blue skies” in the opening sequence on Jabba’s boat.

A deleted scene that did not make it into the theatrical cut also shows Luke fiddling with his weapon to give him a green blade.

Luke and Leia were not originally siblings.

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) ride a motorcycle in Endor.
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox

Aside from Darth Vader’s revelation in “The Empire Strikes Back,” the second family plot twist in the original trilogy is clearly the moment Luke discovers that Leia is his twin sister. But that wasn’t always the plan.

Originally, Luke’s secret twin sister was going to be revealed in “The Empire Strikes Back,” as an early draft of the sequel by writer Leigh Brackett shows Anakin Skywalker’s ghost telling Luke he has a sister named Nellith hidden somewhere in the galaxy.

Yes, that’s technically true about “The Empire Strikes Back,” but if Brackett’s script had played out on screen, we’d never have had the famous Leia reveal in “Return of the Jedi.”

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