Michael Carter was cast as Bib Fortuna in this movie after casting director Mary Selway saw him appearing in the play "The Streets of London" in 1981. It took over eight hours of make-up to first transform him into Jabba the Hutt's Twi'lek advisor. By the end of his five-week shoot, make-up artist Nick Dudman had streamlined the process down to 58 minutes. Removing the make-up took another 25 minutes.
According to Ian McDiarmid, George Lucas originally casted him simply as the physical performance of the Emperor (similar to David Prowse as Darth Vader). This became evident to him when a producer told him that if he was able to get his voice close enough to Clive Revill's (who portrayed the Emperor's voice in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)) Lucas would let him use his on-camera vocals in the final cut of the film. However, McDiarmid felt he could conduct a stronger, more wicked and demonic voice for the Emperor as opposed to Revill's more aristocratic Emperor. Lucas, and even Steven Spielberg, were so impressed with his take that it ended up becoming a signature trait of the character.
When preparing to work on the special edition one of the ILM employees was talking to a friend and mentioned in passing that they were extending the musical number in Jabba's palace. The friend happened to be the brother of Femi Taylor, the dancer that played Oola (the slave girl/dancer who is fed to the Rancor) and suggested that they get in contact with her as she was in even better shape than she was when they originally shot the scene. They ended up using her, and the scene is a combination of footage that they already had and the new footage recorded 15 years later. Femi Taylor also has the distinction of being the only cast member from the original movies to reprise her role for the special edition.
For security reasons, when the film was sent to the lab, it was sent under the title "Blue Harvest". The title was inspired by the Dashiell Hammett story "Red Harvest", which was the inspiration for Yojimbo (1961), directed by Akira Kurosawa, one of the favorite directors of George Lucas. When you go to www.blueharvest.com, you'll get the official Star Wars website.
Carrie Fisher complained about her costumes in the previous two movies. She said they were so long, you could not tell "she was a woman". Those complaints led to the skimpy outfit she wore as Jabba's prisoner. The costume became something of a running joke among the crew, because the metal framework that held the top together meant that the costume didn't move well with her. Since Fisher didn't like the industry standard solution of using double-sided tape, it became necessary before each take to have a wardrobe person check to ensure that her breasts were still snug inside the costume top (and several scenes had to be re-shot when "wardrobe malfunctions" occurred).
George Lucas fired his friend and producer of the previous two Star Wars movies, Gary Kurtz, before production began (although some sources say he simply quit on his own) as Kurtz disagreed with Lucas' assertion that audiences didn't care for the story but for the spectacle.
Originally, the color of Luke's new lightsaber was blue, the same as the one he lost in ESB. Luke can even be seen wielding a blue lightsaber in early ROTJ trailers. However, when a scene of Luke assembling and activating his new saber was cut, Lucas thought the audience might not understand that Luke's ROTJ lightsaber was not the same one he lost on Cloud City. To avoid confusion, Lucas decided to change the color from blue to green, making it clear that Luke was using a new saber. As part of the Expanded Universe, Luke's original lightsaber, used by his father and given to him by Obi-Wan, was recovered (along with his severed hand) from Cloud City and was later wielded by a Luke clone. After the clone's death, Luke presented the saber to Mara Jade, his future wife.
Jabba's sail barge was filmed in Yuma, Arizona. The film crew had problems avoiding the 35,000 dune buggy enthusiasts in the area. To preserve secrecy, the producers claimed to be making a horror film called "Blue Harvest" with the tagline "Horror beyond imagination", and even had caps and t-shirts made up for the crew. A chain-link fence and a 24-hour security service could not prevent die-hard fans from entering the set and sneaking some photographs.
The primitive warrior tribe at the end of this film was originally supposed to be a tribe of Wookiees. In pre-production, though, the decision was made to go to short creatures with short fur rather than very tall creatures with longer fur and, hence, the Ewoks were created (Ewok may very well have been created by rearranging the sounds in the word "Wookiee").
It is rumored that a different ending was shot, but discarded later on. It featured the (long awaited) marriage between Leia Organa and Han Solo. In the Star Wars "Expanded Universe" books, they go on to marry and raise a brood.
The deleted sandstorm scene involving all the actors was the first scene shot on the first day of shooting. This made Mark Hamill the only Star Wars actor to work the first full day of shooting on all three Star Wars movies.
Endor is the name of a place in the Bible; it's a village found in Biblical Israel's territory of Isaachar, where king Saul went on the eve of his final battle with the Phillistines and came across "The Witch of Endor". It also the Elvish name for Middle-Earth in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings".
Ian McDiarmid, a prolific stage actor, based his character's unusual voice on the Japanese method of using your stomach to project yourself. The result was a strange, guttural croak that Lucas decided was perfect for the character of Palpatine.
Nien Nunb, Lando's co-pilot, speaks a Kenyan dialect called Haya. According to sound designer Ben Burtt, the lines were delivered by Kipsang Rotich, a Kenyan student living in the US, and are actually correct Hayan translations of the English text. Audiences in Kenya were reportedly very thrilled to hear their language spoken in proper context.
Before the special editions, this was the only movie of the original trilogy that mentioned the name Anakin. There was a deleted scene in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) where Luke meets Biggs and Red Leader, where the latter mentions that he had once met Anakin. The scene was restored in the Special Edition, minus the line mentioning Anakin, though.
The main chamber of Jabba's palace is connected to the entrance by a short flight of steps. When filming the scene where R2-D2 enters the chamber it was discovered that the droid could not roll down the stairs. In the movie we see R2-D2 approaching the stairs, then the camera moves to the left past the steps and the droid re-enters the field of view, having been manually hauled down the stairs.
The Endor shots were filmed near Crescent City, California. Forest work was especially hard on the Ewok actors. Production Assistant Ian Bryce arrived on the set one day to find a note from the Ewok actors saying that they had all had enough and they were on their way to the airport. Bryce tried to drive to the airport, but got a flat tire not far from the set. He found another car and was about to leave when the Ewoks' bus pulled up, and all the Ewok actors got off wearing "Revenge of the Ewok" t-shirts.
The raspy, labored breathing heard from Darth Vader after he kills the Emperor was originally meant to be how his breathing sounded when he was first introduced in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). The sound of this labored breathing was kept and used for this film.
At one point during the battle on Endor, Leia turns towards a Scout "Chicken" Walker and shoots a man who is either standing on or leaning out of the top. This man is rumored to be none other than the director, Richard Marquand, who also did the voice for the interrogator droid EV 9D9. His voice was run through a ring modulator to give the proper mechanic-sounding effect.
In the familiar theatrical one-sheet poster advertising the film, forearms assumed to belong to Luke Skywalker are shown raising an ignited light-saber upward toward the starry sky. But the unidentified arms pictured are not those of actor Mark Hamill, they belong to George Lucas.
One of the songs that the Ewoks sing sounds like: "Det luktar flingor här", which is Swedish for "It smells of cereal here." (In fact, that line's lyrics are supposedly, "G'noop dock fling oh ah.") Another song sounds identical to a song sung in Caveman (1981).
The Millenium Falcons used for this movie were either models or matte paintings. The full-sized mock up used for the other films was only used for the deleted sandstorm scenes and therefore doesn't make an appearance in this movie
In the part where Paploo was barely hanging onto the speeder bike, Paploo was played by stuntman Tony Cox. The crew propped the bike up vertically and filmed Cox dangling from the handlebars, then simply rotated the camera.
Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas initially wanted to include the "victory over the Empire" shots on the imperial city. However, they were unable to get a satisfactory name for the capital planet of the Empire. In May 1991, author Timothy Zahn wrote a Star Wars spin-off book, Heir to The Empire, and came out with the capital planet's name as Coruscant. Lucas was happy with the name and as the result, CG shots of victory celebration sequences of other cities, including Coruscant (where the statue collapsed) was included in the 1997 Special Edition.
Before filming began, it was discovered that all of Darth Vader's lightsaber props had either been lost or stolen. Thus, one of Luke Skywalker's "stunt" saber props from Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) had to be quickly cannibalized into a "Vader-esque" saber for this film.
Another reason for filming under the guise of nondescript horror movie title, "Blue Harvest" was partly to put off any snoopers and also because the production found that if they mentioned they were working on the next Star Wars film, suppliers would automatically ramp up their prices, assuming that money was no object for Lucasfilm.
Before the Millenium Falcon leaves for the final battle with the Death Star, Han says, "I just got a funny feeling, like I'm not gonna see her again." This would seem to foreshadow the Falcon's demise in battle. But it doesn't. Researchers have looked into the matter from the first scripts of this movie, and have found that in all drafts of the script, Lando and the Falcon survive. All claims that the Falcon would not survive are urban legends, forgeries, or mistaken assumptions.
Originally, George Lucas was disapproving of Richard Marquand's choice in casting Ian McDiarmid as The Emperor. The choice eventually grew on Lucas, as he eventually went on to cast McDiarmid as the younger version of the same character in the next three episodes of the Saga.
Cinematographer Alan Hume had a falling-out with the producers late in production, mainly owing to the fact that he felt they were mistreating Richard Marquand. Hume was never officially sacked, but most of the photography in the last month of production was supervised by camera operator Alec Mills.
As seen in the theatrical trailers, Luke's new light saber had a blue laser blade instead of the green that appears in the finished film, as it had been in the first two movies. The blade was changed to green as being blue, it was difficult to make out against the sky during the attack on the sail barge scene.
Kenny Baker's Ewok character, Paploo, was supposed to find Princess Leia unconscious after the speeder bike sequence, but Baker got a case of food poisoning before the scene was going to be filmed, so Warwick Davis's character, Wicket, became the Ewok who finds Leia.
In a personal letter to friend actor Henry Dibling, Lindsay Anderson said that a role in this movie was offered to him (a "Prince of Evil" role, in his own words). He turned it down because he was busy with his own movie, Britannia Hospital (1982), by then.
WILHELM SCREAM: As Luke slashes an enemy with his lightsaber and he falls into the Sarlacc pit. It can also be heard again a second time as Luke slashes another enemy into the pit soon after, but it is barely audible. Additionally, in the Special Edition, a Wilhelm can be heard during one of the huge celebration scenes, on Coruscant, after the Death Star is destroyed (an Imperial Stormtrooper is crowd surfing and the Wilhelm is heard as he passes to the right of the film frame; since this is a celebration scene rather than a fight scene, the Wilhelm was presumably included as a joke).
During the shot in which Salacius Crumb (the small, annoying, rat-like thing that sits with Jabba in his palace) is chewing off C-3P0's eye, Anthony Daniels had a panic attack while in the C-3P0 suit. While filming, he didn't actually say his lines (all his lines were dubbed in post-production anyway), but repeated "Get me up. Get me up." over and over. This take is the take used in the final film.
Sound designer Ben Burtt got the opportunity to operate the mike boom in the dialogue scene between Luke and Leia on Endor. He didn't know the entire scene would take almost 3 minutes to shoot, so he got very tired holding up the microphone, and nearly dropped it on Carrie Fisher's head.
The point-of-view shots for the speeder bike sequence were achieved by having a camera operator walk through the forest at normal speed with a camera filming at one frame per second. When the footage was played back at twenty four frames per second, it gave the appearance of flying through the forest at high speeds.
The first appearance of the Death Star was originally supposed to be in this episode. Lucas changed the Death Star in this movie to the Death Star Two after having been forced to introduce the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) due to budget cuts imposed by the studio.
Endor scenes were filmed on a sound stage in London, and then on location in a Redwood forest. According to Warwick Davis, Lucas decided to spotlight six of the Ewoks, and to have the same British actors play those parts in England and America. All the others were replaced with Americans for the location shoot.
Originally to be titled "Revenge of the Jedi" but producers thought Jedis wouldn't seek revenge, being so righteous and all. Some posters and theater stand-ups were made early, but pulled very soon as the title changed names. Also Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) was originally to be called "Star Trek: The Revenge of Khan", but the title for that movie was changed to avoid confusion with this movie back when "Revenge of the Jedi" was being considered.
In his book "Sculpting the Galaxy", Lorne Peterson reveals that all shots featuring the second Death Star are flipped horizontally. The original model was unfinished on the left side, while in the film it appears to be unfinished on the right.
David Prowse only portrayed Darth Vader completely for the first half of the movie. In the second half of the movie, the character was played by Bob Anderson (stuntman) during the fight sequence, and Sebastian Shaw after the character is unmasked. James Earl Jones voiced the character throughout, with the exception of the unmasking scene.
George Lucas had a script policy which was carried over to the novel-writing policy today: Any characters from the trilogy cannot be killed off by any means - which explained the reason he overruled Harrison Ford's suggestion of killing Han Solo off. However, he consented R.A. Salvatore's idea of killing Chewbacca off in the novel Vector Prime (set 21 years after Episode VI).
Following the success of Boba Fett (appearing in comics and being a popular supporting character), George Lucas admitted that he had no idea that the character had become so popular. He mentioned that if he had known, he would have given the bounty hunter a more memorable death scene. Lucas even considered adding a shot of Boba Fett escaping the Sarlacc for the 2004 DVD release. Ultimately, he decided against it as he did not want viewers to be detracted from the intended storyline.
The inside of Jabba the Hutt's palace is deliberately styled to resemble the Mos Eisley cantina in the first film. George Lucas wanted to redo the scene but with a bigger budget and without having to rely on stock masks.
In the DVD 2004 release, George Lucas explained the reason behind why Yoda told Luke that Darth Vader was his father. Lucas had consulted with a child psychologist during the making of the film. The psychologist said that unless it was unequivocally stated that Vader was Luke's father, moviegoers age 12 and under would dismiss Vader's claim to be Luke's father as a lie.
The enhanced effects used for the Death Star explosions in this movie and "A New Hope" feature the "Praxis Wave," so named for its first use by Industrial Light and Magic in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) for the explosion of the Klingon moon, Praxis.
This is the only one Star Wars movie where Darth Vader does not Force choke someone. A scene did exist in the initial cut that showed Vader Force choke an Imperial Officer in order to gain access to the Emperor's throne room. This scene was cut because George Lucas felt that this point had been made clearly enough in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
This is the first Star Wars film to show a lightsaber combat something other than another lightsaber. Luke on the Sail Barge fights guards with staffs and blasters. In Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), a lightsaber is seen only fighting another lightsaber. It should be noted that Obi-Wan's removal of Ponda Baba's arm does not count as a fight - but could be considered a combat between a lightsaber and another weapon.
From an engineering perspective, both Death Stars were poorly constructed because they did not have either safety or redundancy systems. When Wedge and Lando shot out the power regulator, the entire reactor exploded. A properly engineered power generator would have multiple backups and safety protocols to prevent such an occurrence.
Moff Jerjerrod (Michael Pennington), the imperial officer who greets Darth Vader in the opening scene, originally had a much larger part in the story. In the beginning, he was to be nearly Force-choked for not allowing Darth Vader access to the Emperor, only to be spared when the Emperor finally allows Vader access. At the end, Jerjerrod would be receiving orders to use the Death Star to blow up Endor, should the Rebels succeed in disabling the shield. He reluctantly starts the firing procedure, but the Rebels beat him to it by blowing up the Death Star.
Listen very carefully as Darth Vader picks up the Emperor and throws him down the Death Star shaft. This is the only time the Jedi theme music plays over a shot of Vader, reflecting his return to the light side of the Force.
In the movie, when Han and Leia are trapped by two troopers as they attempt to get access through to the shield generator, Han confesses his love for Leia by saying "I Love You" to which Leia responds with "I know". This is an exact reverse of a similar conversation that took place between the two in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) when Han is about to be frozen.
Fake scripts were distributed to some cast members that were considered likely to leak information to the media. Some of these phony story elements were indeed leaked, such as Lando being revealed as the "last hope" for the Jedi mentioned by Obi-Wan and Yoda in ESB.
In the 2011 Blu-ray release, Ewoks blink. According to Warwick Davis on the Blu-ray commentary, a mechanism was invented to make the actual costume blink, but this was determined to be faulty and was later aborted.
In the Battle of Endor, many of the "ships" and other objects far in the background are actually things like chewed-up gum. The crew knew there was so much action going on that people would not notice things like this use to fill up the picture in the background.
the Imperial officer in the bunker who says "Freeze!" and gets knocked into the generator room by a thrown satchel. When he falls over the edge, he attempts to emulate the Wilhelm scream, which he made famous.
Many viewers commented about Leia's inability to see the Force-Ghosts of Ben, Yoda, and most importantly her father, Anakin. In the Star Wars novel, 'Truce at Bakura' - which takes place immediately after "Return of the Jedi" - Anakin does appear to Leia, to ask for her forgiveness.
The reason that Vader did not dissolve immediately after death like Yoda is that he did not yet know how. The ability to do so and then become a Force-Ghost is only passed along from already existing Force-Ghosts. Obi-Wan learned it from Yoda, who in turn had learned from Qui-Gon Jinn. Anakin appears as a Force-Ghost shortly after his death, implying he quickly mastered the ability to manifest himself (and his burnt remains subsequently disappeared).
In the most recent special edition, the force-ghost of Anakin Skywalker portrayed by Sebastian Shaw is replaced with one by Hayden Christensen from Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). George Lucas felt the force-ghost should represent Anakin as he was before he succumbed to the Dark Side. Also, in "Sith", Anakin was horribly burned and lost both legs and his right hand, an aspect added after the original trilogy. Despite the explanation by Lucas, or perhaps because of it, many fans were outraged over the change and wrote angry letters to Lucas.
When Vader saves Skywalker by killing Palpatine, he fulfills the Jedi prophecy. He destroys the embodiment of the Dark Side and returns to the light. In doing so, he brings balance to the Force, just as the prophecy predicted.