The (fake) working name of Blue Harvest: Horror Beyond Imagination is a play on Red Harvest. The novel by Dashiell Hammett has been influential on movies such as Yojimbo.
Acting for Two: Besides R2-D2, Kenny Baker also portrayed Paploo, the Ewok who stole an Imperial speeder bike.
Awesome, Dear Boy: Averting the Old Shame trope as noted below, Sebastian Shaw, the actor who portrayed redeemed and unmasked Anakin Skywalker, has praised two previous Star Wars movies and enjoyed them particularly for the visual effects, which he described in an interview with science-fiction film magazine Starlog as "brilliant techniques which, in many ways, were revolutionary, something quite new."
Cast the Expert: The reason why the redeemed and unmasked Anakin Skywalker was portrayed by Sebastian Shaw, instead of David Prowse who portrayed the masked Darth Vader, is because the redemption and unmasking scene is the emotional climax of the film, so the casting crew wanted an experienced actor for the role.
Creator Cameo: Director Richard Marquand portrays a rebel pilot and voices EV-9D9 in Jabba's palace.
The Imperial officer who corners the Rebels in the shield bunker (calling them "Rebel scum") is played by series sound designer Ben Burtt, the man most responsible for reviving the Wilhem Scream (which appears a few seconds earlier).
Deleted Scenes: Moff Jerjerrod got quite a few that expanded his character a bit (not to mention made Palpatine more monstrous than before). In particular, the deleted scenes were of a subplot and some conflict for the Moff: At some point during Luke and Vader's duel, Palpatine contacted Moff Jerjerrod by comlink and told him that, should the Rebel Alliance somehow succeed in getting past the defenses of the shield generator and destroy it, Jerjerrod will turn the Death Star towards the planet and fire the superlaser to destroy it, with Jerjerrod, while nonetheless processing the command, expressed reluctance at killing his own men on Endor before being silenced by Palpatine. Afterwards, Lieutennant Endicott informed Jerjerrod about the shield generator's destruction, causing Jerjerrod to reluctantly obey Palpatine's command. He also orders for several attempts to delay Red and Gold Squadrons from entering the superstructure, and lastly hesitates briefly before ordering the countdown. These scenes were largely retained in the novelization, for anyone curious, although Jerjerrod's characterization is changed to the opposite of what it was in the film.
The Rancor scene went a little differently. After the Gamorrean guard got eaten, Luke tries to Force-jump out of the pit, but as he makes it to the grate, two Jawas stomp on his hands and he drops back into the pit.
An extended version of Yoda's death reveals that Obi-Wan would have told Luke the truth that Vader was indeed his father if he'd let him.
The novelization and radio dramas of the film contained a scene of Luke putting the finishing touches on his new lightsaber, while visiting Obi-Wan's old hut on Tattooine and right before sending R2 and 3PO to Jabba, which lead to a lot of speculation that such a scene was filmed for the movie but deleted as mostly unnecessary to the narrative (a combination of a different hilt and the green color made it obvious Luke built a new lightsaber, in addition to Vader's comment later about it). When the actual scene turned up nearly 30 years later, it was like finding the Holy Grail.
Old Shame: This is averted for unlike Alec Guinness, Sebastian Shaw always said that he had a splendid time playing Anakin Skywalker. After all, it was an easy role that paid well for him, and he found that having an action figure made in his likeness was a delightful surprise.
The Other Marty: Anakin's Force ghost in the special edition DVDs. Sebastian Shaw's appearance is removed and replaced by Hayden Christensen. This was a huge point of contention among the saga's fans, as the younger Anakin doesn't interact as well with Yoda and Obi-Wan as the older Anakin did. Christensen mentioned in an interview that he didn't fully know what George Lucas was up to, otherwise he would have played the scene totally different.
Serendipity Writes the Plot: Luke's new lightsaber was originally going to be blue, as Obi-Wan's and Anakin's had. This showed up on a poster and even in some early screenshots and trailers. However, the special effects team realized that this wouldn't look good against the blue sky on Tatooine during the scene on Jabba's barge, so it was made green, thus codifying the idea that the Jedi usually have blue or green lightsabers while the Sith use red.
Troubled Production: As for the final part of the Original Trilogy, creating Return of the Jedi may not have been as contentious as A New Hope or Empire, but the production crew certainly faced their own problems according to J.W. Rinzler's "Making of Return of the Jedi" book:
The producer of the previous two films, Gary Kurtz, split up with Lucasfilm due to a combo of the budget overruns on Empire Strikes Back and his dislike of the direction Lucas was taking the series with the film, such as his belief that Lucas was playing it safe by rehashing the Death Star conflict, putting more emphasis on special effects than story, and trying to play up the merchandising angle of the movie more with characters like the Ewoks (ironically, the toys for the latter creatures did rather poorly in merchandise sales).
During pre-production, Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan would constantly argue over story beats and setpieces, with both of them getting into heated discussions over whether to scrap Endor entirely in favor of setting the climactic battle on Had Abbadon, the supposed Imperial "home planet".
Richard Marquand was brought on as director after several of Lucas' planned choices didn't pan out, and they ran into frequent conflicts during filming. Not only was Lucas constantly on-set when Marquand directed, but the former would often give the actors advice contrary to Marquand's direction.
Likewise, Marquand alienated several of the actors, with both Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill accusing the director of treating them terribly while simultaneously fawning over Harrison Ford's performance.
Principal photography was beset with numerous delays and clashes between Lucas and Marquand, with the former wanting to use multiple cameras during each take so he could have more material in the editing room, and the latter wanting only one or two cameras with no fallback option. The filmmakers inadvertantly used old film stock that caused many shots to have a bizarre blue tint, which forced ILM to fix the color timing on many shots in post-production. At a certain point, Lucas essentially took over the majority of directing duties from Marquand.
Lucas also ran into budget problems as a result of ensuring his loan with 20th Century Fox after the release of Empire, to the point of interfering with filming. Marquand had to beg Lucas for a Rancor hand prop to be constructed so that close-ups of Hamill could be filmed.
The infamous "Black Friday" incident, where 100,000 feet of film stock containing effects shots that couldn't be read in an optical printer were unceremoniously dumped by Lucas himself. The crew at ILM were forced to go back to the drawing board and start again from scratch, with many getting drunk when they heard the news.
Ralph McQuarrie became burned out because of his constant work on the film and his hatred of the Ewok concept, and walked away from the production.
Cinematographer Alan Hume, who was angered over Lucas' treatment of Marquand, informally stepped away from his duties, leaving camera operator Alec Mills to finish filming in the last month of production.
The first screening of the film (using an early cut) was reportedly a disaster, with Lucas deriding the editing and the fact that it didn't feel like a Star Wars film. Eventually, one of the film editors, Sean Barton, did his own cut that Lucas preferred a lot more, and it was this cut that the final version was crafted from.
Wardrobe Malfunction: Happens to Oola, the green Twi'lek dancer. And to Carrie Fisher's golden bikini during the filming. Both were unintentional bloopers that were edited out but can still be seen with a quick eye and pause button.
The name is originally titled Revenge of the Jedi in both posters and even the teaser trailer before Lucas changed the title a few weeks before the premier (as Jedi do not seek Revenge).
Oddly enough, the Japanese dub keep the Revenge part in the title until the Special Edition dubs.
George Lucas wanted Steven Spielberg to direct. The problem was that Lucas had resigned from the Director's Guild of America over fines imposed by the union for his violating crediting rules on The Empire Strikes Back (i.e. not having credits in the opening at all — the DGA let the infraction slide on A New Hope as they, as most of Hollywood thought the film would tank). According to DGA rules, Lucas was now running an officially non-union shop, and no DGA director, such as Spielberg, would be permitted to join such a production without penalty. The same situation caused Gary Oldman to turn down the role of General Grievous for Revenge of the Sith.
Steven Spielberg at one point considered suggesting to Lucas to have the then-up and coming Paul Verhoeven direct the film, but quickly decided against it after seeing the explicit content in Spetters. note "I suppose he was scared," Verhoeven would later comment, "that the Jedi would immediately start fucking." Verhoeven would later go on to make it big in the sci-fi industry, though notin the mostfamily-friendly ways.
The original plan for "native allies on Endor" was not Ewoks, but instead a band of escaped Wookiee slaves. But Lucas wanted the battle to be fought "old school" with bows and arrows and Wookiee's had advanced technology.note Ironic, considering The Essential Guide to Warfare's implication that the Ewoks stole various dead Stormtrooper's blasters and used them against the Imperials. So he decided to "Cut them in half and call them Ewoks." Also, Kenny Baker (the little guy who was inside R2 making him shake) was supposed to play Wicket but he fell sick for most of the production and that's when Warwick Davis stepped into the role.
The script described a little more detail about Luke and Leia's mother. She was disguised as Leia's adoptive parents' handmaid. She died when Leia is about 4. This was partially canon until Episode III; it was then retconned that the handmaid was actually Sabé, Padme's handmaid/decoy from The Phantom Menace played by Keira Knightley.
Prior to the making of the film, Mark Hamill speculated that it would have involved Luke turning to the dark side, with the main conflict being generated by whether or not he'll be turned back. A similar plot thread eventually re-emerged in the Dark Empire serial.
Originally Moff Jerjerrod, the sort-of whiny overseer of the Death Star's construction, was written as Grand Moff Jerjerrod, and was Palpatine's personal representative, and schemed with him to turn Luke and betray Vader. When Vader finds out he breaks Jerjerrod's neck. From this important role he was reduced to just another Imperial flunkey with a minor connection to the Emperor.
There was a rumor that in the early drafts The Falcondoesn't Outrun the Fireball and gets destroyed along with the Death Star II.
That would certainly explain Han's remark about having a feeling he wouldn't see her again, which otherwise goes nowhere.
An early draft featured General Veers as the commander of the Endor Garrison, personally leading the battle on the moon.
Sir Ben Kingsley was considered for the role of Emperor Palpatine.
Harrison Ford wanted Han Solo to die at the end of the film to give the ending "a little extra weight." But George Lucas vetoed the idea because he wanted the story to end on a much happier note.
In addition to Hans' death, original plans called for the Emperor surviving, Leia becoming the "queen" of her people and Luke Skywalker walking off alone "like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns" (so Gary Kurtz remarked), ultimately creating a more bittersweet yet poignant ending. It would've lead to another three movies that would have been about Luke's journey on his own, becoming a Jedi Master, discovering his sister (who wouldn't have been Leia) and finally defeating the Emperor and the Empire along with him.
There are several women among the Rebel pilots seen during the briefing aboard Home One (one can be seen just behind Lando's shoulder in his conversation with Han), who never actually appear in the actual battle sequence, though at least three were known to have filmed cockpit scenes for the battle. One of these actresses did survive into the final cut film: one of the A-Wing pilots is actually a woman redubbed by a male actor. The most significant cut was French model and actress Vivienne Chandler, who played an unnamed female X-wing pilot (later named Dorovio Bold). What made her cut surprising was that it appeared she would have played a significant role in the battle, as she recorded over a full page of dialogue. Footage of her in the cockpit of her X-wing recently resurfaced, indicating she was among the pilots to assault the Death Star itself, and her dialogue (in which she makes a distress call about a fatally-damaged stabilizer) suggests she would have been killed after crashing much like Red Leader had in the original film. It's unclear exactly why the women were cut, but it's been speculated there were concerns that audiences would be made uncomfortable by the thought of women being killed during a battle sequence.
The visually-distinct B-wing fighters apparently had a substantial amount of footage filmed for use in the final battle, however it was realized that the fighter's thin profile meant that it was incredibly difficult to pick up on screen, so all shots of the B-wings in action was cut after the Rebels break off when they realize the shield is still up.