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Trivia / The Empire Strikes Back

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  • Acting in the Dark: As George Lucas didn't want the twist getting out, outside of James Earl Jones and Mark Hamill, no one knew the twist that Vader was really Anakin himself. David Prowse was instead led to believe that Obi-Wan really killed Anakin and, as noted below, he was pissed upon finding out the truth, stating he'd have acted differently if he'd known.
  • Acting for Two:
    • The Aryan-esque Imperial officer who uses Leia as a body shield during the Bespin firefight with Luke is actor Jeremy Bulloch, who spends the rest of his scenes in the movie playing Boba Fett in face-concealing armor. The choice to use him as the officer was less about letting him show his face on-screen than that he fit the blond, blue-eyed Nazi type they thought was appropriate and was already on set.
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    • In the Special Edition, the voice-over line "The first transport is away" during the Rebel evacuation was rerecorded by Mark Hamill.
  • Author Existence Failure:
    • George Lucas hated the process of scripting the first film, so he hired noted pulp sci-fi novel author and Golden Age Hollywood screenwriter Leigh Brackett to write the script for Empire. She wrote one draft, but died of cancer soon afterwards. As a result, Lucas wrote the next few drafts himself, before asking Lawrence Kasdan to do revisions. Incidentally, the famous Luke, I Am Your Father reveal wasn't in Brackett's draft; Lucas only added it when he started rewriting the script himself. Although most of her version was rewritten, two contributions by Brackett did end up making it into to the final film: the planet names 'Hoth' and 'Bespin'. Brackett also has an official screenwriting credit along with Kasdan; Lucas left his name off the script because only two writers could be credited and he wanted to honor Brackett's memory and the work she did while sick with cancer.
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    • Yoda almost suffered this in the prequels and sequel because George Lucas originally asked Jim Henson to play him.
    • John Barry, who had been production designer on the first film, was earmarked as a possible future director for the series by Lucas, and given the second unit director's job on this film to give him some experience (he had previously signed on to direct Saturn 3, but it fell through when it turned out Barry had no real idea how a film shoot actually works). Sadly, he suddenly fell ill with meningitis halfway through production and died just a few hours later, forcing the team to find a new second unit director and robbing Lucas of the obvious choice to direct the next film.
  • Approval of God: Irvin Kershner had no problem at all with Lucas's Special Edition, feeling the changes were so minor that they didn't really affect the experience of watching at all. He also consulted Lucas and was insistent that the Cloud City exteriors show up in the windows during the corridor chase between Luke and Boba Fett, and was happy that it showed up in the final film.
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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Vader says "No, I am your father", not "Luke, I am your father." He also doesn't say "Impressive. Most impressive. But you are not a Jedi yet!" These are two separate lines. In 2020, the director of Tommy Boy accepted the likely blame for the former, due to it being misquoted that way in the film.
  • ...But I Play One on TV: When his daughter was in elementary school, Billy Dee Williams would have children run up to him and angrily say "You betrayed Han Solo!", and he'd attempt to explain why Lando did what he did.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • George Lucas called this "the worst Star Wars film".Yes, really. Though, then again, problems with filming and its original reception need to be remembered, since at the time of its release the film was considered worse than the original by critics and many moviegoers.
    • David Prowse, while pleased with the film overall (as noted below), was furious at Lucas and Kershner for keeping him in the dark about the big reveal because he would have acted out the scene completely different had he known the real twist.
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: Darth Vader's Breakout Villain status is reflected with his actor's (David Prowse) noting the movie to be his personal favorite.
    David Prowse: "This for me was my favorite of the Star Wars movies. We had a wonderful director, Irvin Kershner, who I rank as one of the best directors I have ever worked with. It was, of course, a big reunion for us all, and by now we all knew that we were involved in a cinematic phenomena. [...] The old team were back together, plus new cast members like Caroline Blakiston who played Mon Mothma, and my old friend Bruce Boa who played General Reikeen. Bruce and I remained good friends right up until his death. [...] and I thought the carbon freezer scenes were sensational [...]" [1]
  • The Danza: The minor character General McQuarrie, played by artist Ralph McQuarrie. Additionally, his first name is "Pharl", which is "Ralph" scrambled.
  • Deleted Scene:
    • Han and Leia continue their argument beyond "You could use a good kiss!"
    • 2-1B evaluates a dead tauntaun (seen in background of the final film when Han asks where Luke has gone).
    • After leaving the bacta tank, Luke and Leia almost kiss but are interrupted by C-3PO. Luke tells Leia that he has to go to the Dagobah system. Leia gets angry, explaining that Han was about to leave to pay off unpaid debts for Jabba the Hutt. Leia then says that she would get more loyalty if she went down the hall and recruited some of the Wampas.
    • Luke mans a cannon aboard a Rebel transport and shoots an attacking wampa.
    • While fleeing Imperial troops, Han suggests they take a shortcut through a room that has a sign on it. Leia tells him "that's where they keep those creatures" (the wampas). They run off and C-3PO tears away the warning sign, hoping the troops will mistake it for another room. Sure enough, they do, and one of the snowtroopers is pulled in by a wampa. The other troopers stare in disbelief and Darth Vader walks up, seemingly just as confused or silently reprimanding them for stopping.
    • Several Rebel troopers attempt to fend off several wampas that have escaped their containment unit during the battle of Hoth
    • R2-D2 wanders down a corridor and narrowly escapes a wampa.
    • Yoda trains Luke, who uses his lightsaber to cut up four metal bars that Yoda would have been levitating.
    • Han works on the Falcon while the asteroid belt is bombarded by the Empire.
    • Lobot is captured by stormtroopers to be killed.
    • Leia tells Luke about Han's capture by Boba Fett.
    • A scene in which Lobot has dialogue.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • When shooting the big scene between Luke and Vader, David Prowse said "No, Obi-Wan killed your father", and that's what the entire crew of the film thought would be said when James Earl Jones dubbed in his lines. Only five people (Lucas, Jones, Mark Hamill so he would react correctly, writer Lawrence Kasdan, and director Irvin Kershner) knew the actual line.
    • And Hamill didn't know until they were on set and ready to film. Kershner took him aside and told him moments before. They were very determined to keep the big reveal a secret.
    • According to a 2016 interview with Mark Hamill, the extreme precautions turned out to be totally justified; not long after the scene was filmed, newspapers were reporting the "big twist" of Obi-Wan killing Luke's father — meaning someone on the set that day went and blabbed.
    • David Prowse was furious about learning that he'd been kept in the dark, saying that his body language would have been completely different had he known what the real line was supposed to be.
  • Foiler Footage: Before the movie's premiere, the number of people who knew about The Reveal could be counted on one hand: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Gary Kurtz, James Earl Jones, Mark Hamill and whatever editors Lucas trusted to see the scene. Even David Prowse, who had to say something during filming, was given the fake line "Obi-Wan killed your father." Urban Legends now abound of Harrison Ford turning to Hamill in the middle of the premiere and giving a Big "WHAT?!", as well as David Prowse leaning forward and telling George Lucas "Why didn't you tell me? I would have said it."
  • Follow the Leader: Building on the legacy of The Godfather Part II, the film codified the concept of the sequel being deeper, darker and better that has become the de facto expectation for any sequel, especially in action genres such as superhero films. It also popularized the idea of splitting the major characters apart to facilitate more subplots as a convenient way to make the story bigger.
  • Lying Creator: To make absolutely sure the big twist wouldn't leak, only Lucas, Irvin Kershner, James Earl Jones, and Mark Hamill knew about the real line, with the script featuring Vader saying "Obi-Wan killed your father." The rest of the cast and crew only learned the truth at the movie's premiere (when the true line was spoken, it allegedly prompted a Big "WHAT?!" from Harrison Ford), and David Prowse was quite upset with Lucas afterwards, saying his physical acting would have been completely different if he'd known the real line.
    • James Earl Jones would also state in a later interview that this was his reaction when he saw Vader's lines in the script; he was sure Vader had to be lying about it, and only with some difficulty were Lucas and Kershner able to persuade him otherwise.
  • Missing Trailer Scene:
    • A theatrical trailer narrated by Harrison Ford features C-3PO ripping a decal off a door. This is from a Deleted Scene where 3PO tricks some Stormtroopers into walking into a Wampa containment room.
    • There was also a shot where Vader leans forward for some reason (supposedly after his fight with Luke, as if to throw him off himself). Some speculate that this is from him trying to use the Force to pull Luke back up to him, a scene described in the children's picture book of the movie.
    • Not to mention a completely different shot of Luke and Leia making out. Notably, they appear to be alone in this scene, as opposed to the one in the film proper which was in front of the regular gang. Maybe the filmmakers were just shipteasing, or (less likely, considering how we know the writing process went) they were trying to throw off the scent of the twist in the next film.
  • No Stunt Double: With the exception of being sucked out of a Cloud City window and the use of some puppets, Mark Hamill did all of his own stunts.
  • Orphaned Reference: While discussing the Imperial probe droid, Leia asks whether the object detect on radar could be "one of those creatures", which is the only remaining reference to a deleted subplot in which Echo Base was dealing with attempted break-ins by Wampas. Even without that scene, Luke told everyone about the Wampa who caught him.
  • The Other Darrin: The voice actor who dubbed Darth Vader for the French version of A New Hope, François Chaumette, did not come back for The Empire Strikes Back. He was replaced by Georges Aminel, whose voice sounded much deeper than Chaumette's and much closer to that of James Earl Jones. Aminel would voice Vader again for Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, and passed away in 2007.
  • The Other Marty:
    • In the original release of The Empire Strikes Back, Palpatine was portrayed by Marjorie Eaton (sort of: Her appearance was superimposed with that of a Chimpanzee's eyes, and her voice, similar to that of Darth Vader's actor, would be dubbed over by Clive Revill). The DVD and Blu-Ray releases of The Empire Strikes Back would replace her with Ian McDiarmid.
    • Likewise, Boba Fett's voice was changed from Jason Wingreen's voice to Temuera Morrison's voice in the Original Trilogy's first DVD release to reflect Boba's status as a clone of his father, Jango Fett.
  • Prop Recycling:
  • Scully Box: Carrie Fisher stood on a box for many of her scenes with Harrison Ford in order to make up for the height difference and have her appear in the frame with him. She was a foot shorter than him.
  • Spared by the Cut:
    • General Veers was originally supposed to die when a damaged snowspeeder crashes head-on into his Walker. This was kept in the novelization.
    • Lobot was supposed to be captured by stormtroopers and taken away to be killed.
  • Throw It In!:
    • When they just couldn't get Han's response to Leia in their last scene right, Irvin finally just told Harrison to get in character and they would just run the scene without him being given a line to see how he would react, and he just blurted out "I know." The original line was "I love you, too." Ford argued that Han Solo would never say such a thing directly, much less repeat someone. Lucas and Kershner agreed, though Carrie Fisher was pissed at Harrison for changing the line without running it by her first.
    • In the original script, when Lando is about to lead Han, Leia, and Chewie into the trap set by Darth Vader, Lando offers his arm to Leia, as a gesture to lead her down the hallway and she accepts it. Ford ad-libbed Han coming up behind Leia and offering his arm to her at the exact same moment, to imply that Han was jealous.
  • Trope Namer For:
  • Troubled Production: While not quite as brutal as the production of the previous film, Empire nonetheless had a fair share of behind-the-scenes turmoil.
    • Production went over budget (triple that of the original in fact) and behind schedule, and the Hoth location shoot in Norway was plagued by a strong snowstorm (How bad? The scene where Luke escapes from the Wampa lair was achieved by opening the door to their hotel and filming Mark Hamill running outside.). The film also suffered overcharges on location shooting by locals eager to cash in, given the success of the predecessor; Lucas would shoot Return of the Jedi under a fake name to prevent this price gouging again.
    • New director Irvin Kershner spent a lot more time setting up takes than Lucas did, causing a bit of friction between the two. Kershner and the actors also changed bits of dialogue from the shooting script, not all of which were approved by Lucas.
    • Lucas wanted to keep the film out of any studios hands and financed it himself, but he was forced to take out a loan with 20th Century Fox as his security, on the condition that Fox would receive a greater percentage of the film's profit.
    • The Yoda puppet was made of a less-than-optimal material, resulting in it being quite a bit heavier than what Frank Oz was used to from his time with the Muppets. The strain put on his arms meant the scenes had to be shot on a quite erratic schedule.
  • What Could Have Been: Enough for its own page.


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