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Trivia / Return of the Jedi

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  • Acting for Two: Besides R2-D2, Kenny Baker also portrayed Paploo, the Ewok who stole an Imperial speeder bike.
  • Acting in the Dark: Sebastian Shaw (Anakin Skywalker) initially didn't know that he portrayed a character in a Star Wars movie, though he had suspicion that "it's something to do with science-fiction". His presence during the filming was kept secret from all but the minimum cast and crew.
  • Approval of God: There is a fan theory suggesting that the old bearded guy from the Endor strike team (known as Nik Sant in Legends) was Rex from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Dave Filoni would flip flop on this issue. The current state is that Rex was at Endor, but whether he was the old bearded guy is ultimately up to the viewer.
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  • Ascended Fanboy: Warwick Davis was a huge Star Wars fan before getting cast as Wickett the Ewok.
  • 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."
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!:
    • The Bothans stole the information about the second Death Star, not the first.
    • Also, they don't steal any plans. All they gave to the Alliance was the information that the second Death Star wasn't operational yet (or so they thought), and that the Emperor himself personally oversaw the construction.
  • 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.
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    • Oola, the Twi'lek slave dancer, is portrayed by a real-life dancer, Femi Taylor.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: Kenny Baker was supposed to play Wicket, but he fell sick for most of the production and that's when Warwick Davis stepped into the role.
  • Creator Backlash: Some of the cast have mixed feelings about the movie and working on it:
    • As a rule of thumb, nobody who worked on the film (except George Lucas) was on board with the Ewok concept.
    • The Empire Strikes Back was David Prowse's (Darth Vader) personal favourite. By contrast, he isn't particularly fond of this last entry of the trilogy.
      David Prowse: This for me was the weak part of the trilogy, and unfortunately turned out to be the worst film experience I have ever had. I did not like the introduction of the Ewoks, although the kids loved it. The premise that a bunch of teddy bears with sticks and stones could defeat the might of the Stormtroopers was totally unbelievable and spoilt the film for me, even though I did not have a great involvement. [1]
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    • In J.W. Rinzler's Making of Return of the Jedi book, Carrie Fisher is quoted saying that she felt Jedi was the weakest film in the trilogy. Mark Hamill likewise had mixed feelings about the film, and felt that the script was a letdown compared to the first two films.
      "Watching Jedi was like finding your old high-school yearbook up in the attic. I couldn't really relate to it. I really felt outside the whole thing. It was a sad feeling in a way, because it was a part of my life that's over now."
    • Harrison Ford didn't regret working on the film, but he was clearly burned out on playing Han Solo and wasn't satisfied with the ending or the overall script.
      "I'm glad I did all three of them. I'm glad it brought itself to a natural conclusion. But three is enough for me. I was glad to see that costume for the last time. I don't think it had a very successful ending, with that teddy bear picnic."
    • Alec Guinness also didn't care for his brief involvement with the film either. He was reluctant to take up the role of Obi Wan a third time, even if it was just for what amounted to a cameo role, but he felt it would've been mean of him to turn it down.
    • Both George Lucas and Richard Marquand hated the results of the "Lapti Nek" number in the film for its dated disco atmosphere and stiff puppetry, hence why Lucas replaced it with a new song and CGI in the Special Editions of the movie.
  • Creator Breakdown: Between his usual Control Freak tendencies and his marriage falling apart, George Lucas was far more prickly during the making of this film than pretty much any other time in his life. He ran roughshod over poor Richard Marquand in a way he never had with Empire director Irvin Kershner, and was an absolute tyrant in ILM, including one day where he destroyed almost a hundred effect shots in a fit of pique.note 
  • Dawson Casting: An unusual example for a middle-aged male character: when Vader's face is finally seen in Return of the Jedi he is being played by 78-year-old Sebastian Shaw. The timeline would reveal that he would be in his mid-forties at the time. Justified, as he's been living for roughly 25 years with severe burns and multiple organ failures and being rapidly aged by usage of the dark side so it was likely that he would be Younger Than He Looks.
  • 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 (the original storybook of the film contains a still from this scene, showing Luke hanging from the grate).
    • Drunk guests having a party aboard the sail barge.
    • A barge fight between Ree-Yees and Saelt-Marae with C-3PO translating.
    • Leia gets an object and attacks a skiff guard, before she goes up to the cannon and positions it to the deck. This scene was cut and you can see a fraction of that footage when Leia appears to get an object. This scene was captured on photo and video.
    • Right after Jabba's Sail Barge blows up, Luke, Han, Leia, Lando, and the droids go back to the Millennium Falcon and Luke's X-wing (both of which are in the middle of a sandstorm). Han thanks Luke for saving him and Luke explains to his friends that he has to go back to Dagobah.
    • Vader and several other Imperials walk down a hallway to the hangar where the Emperor will be arriving on the Death Star.
    • 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.
    • A recently discovered deathbed scene reveals that Yoda forbade Obi-Wan from telling Luke that Darth Vader was his father.
    • Darth Vader lands in the Death Star docking bay with Luke, taking him to the Emperor. (This outtake was partially restored and placed in the Special Edition of The Empire Strikes Back, having Vader land in the Executor. Moff Jerjerrod can be seen in the new footage and is mouthing his dialogue from Return of the Jedi).
    • An additional battle in the shield bunker, where Han and Rebel soldiers encounter a squad of stormtroopers outside the control room. Han reacts to being called "Rebel scum."
    • General Crix Madine was to have scenes aboard a Mon Calamari ship during the final battle. These scenes were filmed. Actor Dermot Crowley claims to have spent a few extra days filming in a moving chair shouting things such as "Fire!" There are cut shots of Rebel gunners aboard the Millennium Falcon. It was rumored that the B-Wing fighters would be given more to do during the battle in the Special Edition.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Carrie Fisher's unhappiness during her Jabba slave scenes was likely genuine. Not only was the slave bikini every bit as uncomfortable as it looked, she apparently wore nothing under it, meaning people standing behind her could, in her own words, see all the way to Florida.
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  • Jossed: Between Empire and this film, numerous fan theories ensued revolving around the notion that Vader was somehow lying about being Luke's father. This film revealed he was actually being 100% honest.
  • Missing Episode: The film version of "Lapti Nek" was never included on any soundtrack albums, the original recording likely having been lost, and has since been only available on the VHSs and the 2006 Limited Edition DVD. There was also an unused piece of Source Music composed by Joseph Williams that was lost.
  • No Stunt Double: During production, Lucas asked Carrie Fisher if she wanted a stunt double to kill Jabba the Hutt, but she declined and wanted to kill him herself.
  • Old Shame: Averted for Sebastian Shaw. Unlike Alec Guinness, 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.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: While it obviously did not take, this was more or less Lucas's intent when making "Jedi" as noted in the Rinzler book. He had started to sour on his original hope for Star Wars to be serialized into multiple episodes, being especially worried about not being able to retain the cast and properly giving the characters closurenote , his difficulty to attract talented directors with many of his first choices rejecting both Empire and Jedi, and his fears that the novelty of Star Wars was waning by the '80s. In addition to all of that, there was his divorce with Marcia Lucas. As such, Return of the Jedi closed the original trilogy with subplots from multiple future parts merged into a whole, the Luke/Han/Leia romance suddenly resolved, and a complete victory achieved over the Empire.
  • 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 (Ford, however, did not appreciate this mistreatment of his friends and is said to have never forgiven Marquand for it.)
    • 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.
  • Underage Casting: Ian McDiarmid was 38 during shooting, nearly 50 years younger than Palpatine is during the events of the film. This ended up paying off beautifully as he was able to reprise the role in the prequels, animated series, and even The Rise of Skywalker.
  • Wag the Director: The reason Admiral Ackbar doesn't celebrate along with the rest of the crew after the Rebel fleet brings down a Star Destroyer was due to the insistence of his actor, Erik Bauersfeld. Bauersfeld, being a war veteran himself, believed that war, even in victory, should be a treated as a somber occasion, and refused to portray Ackbar as jubilant during such an occasion. He told the producers that if they didn't like his performance they could put someone else in the costume for that scene. Ultimately, Baursfeld's performance was used in the final film.
  • What Could Have Been: Enough for its own page.
  • Working Title: The film was originally titled Revenge of the Jedi, but Lucas changed it a few weeks before it released. He alleges it's because Jedi do not seek revenge, but—as the owner of the merchandise licensing rights—outing counterfeiters is another potential motive. Oddly enough, the Japanese dub kept the Revenge part in the title until the Special Edition dubs.


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