Empire of Dreams: The Story of the 'Star Wars' Trilogy (2004 TV Movie)
Mark Hamill: [Archive footage; reading a line] Fear is their greatest defense. I doubt if the actual security there is much greater than on Appalyer-Sullust and what there is is most likely directed towards a large scale assault.
Mark Hamill: [the present] And I read that line and I thought, "Who talks like that?"
Narrator: Just one day into filming, the Sahara was pelted with its first major rainfall in fifty years.
Robert Watts: We were going out there to shoot. I came out in the morning and the rain was going horizontally down the street this way. I thought, "My God!" I just called a rest day on the crew and told them to go back to bed, because there was no way we were going to shoot on that.
Peter Mayhew: [as Chewbacca] That old man's mad.
Harrison Ford: You said it, Chewie. Boy, where'd you dig up that old fossil?
Harrison Ford: I think George likes people, I think George is a warm-hearted person, but... he's a little impatient with the process of acting, of finding something. He thinks that something's there. "It's right there, I wrote it down. Do that". You know. Sometimes you can't just "do that" and make it work.
Carrie Fisher: I had one outfit for the first movie and as George taught me, there is no underwear in space. Instead of that, there's gaffer tape. So I was taped down. And I used to say we should just make up a contest on the call sheet to see who's going to rip it off. But we didn't do that.
Bill Moyers: Timing is everything in art. You bring out Star Wars too early and it's Buck Rogers. You bring it out too late and it doesn't fit our imaginations. You bring it out just as the war in Vietnam is ending and America feels uncertain of itself, and the old stories have died, and you bring it out at that time and suddenly, it's a new game. Plus it's alot of fun. It's a lot of fun to watch Star Wars.
Gareth Wigan: George was enormously farsighted. The studio wasn't. They didn't know that the world was changing. George did know the world was changing. I mean, he changed it.
Carrie Fisher: You're not really famous until you're a Pez dispenser.
Harrison Ford: [on the success of Star Wars] I was like this -
[rubs his palms together]
Harrison Ford: Great. Terrific. Now I can go to work. I have an opportunity to take advantage of the success of this film and go to work.
Frank Oz: [about Stuart Freeborn] He was under the gun and it was very tense. Very tense. He had to get this thing done. We've got to start shooting with Yoda. And so while we were talking to him, I just had Yoda's head and I was just playing with it then I dropped it and it cracked. Then Stuart said, "I need a drink". So it was terrible, because here we're pressing so much and I'm the one that screwed it up.
George Lucas: [about Yoda] That was like a real leap. Because if that puppet had not worked, the whole film would have been down the tubes. It would've been a disaster. A silly little Muppet... It would've been Kermit running around in that movie. The whole movie would've collapsed under the weight of it.
Anthony Daniels: I was there for a while and then I thought, well nearly time to go. And then, kind of over George's shoulder, I saw a painting. And the most extraordinary thing happened. It just struck me because I kind of looked at this face, and the face looked back at me. We had the most extraordinary eye contact you know, he's looking right out of the picture. And he seemed to be saying, "Come. Come. Be with me", and the vulnerability in his face made me want to help him. Isn't that weird? He just looks utterly vulnerable. That painting completely changed my attitude to the whole project. Years later, I was able to go to Ralph McQuarrie and say, "You realize this is all your fault?".
Harrison Ford: It's what the idea was of the character relationships. Mark was the callow youth and I was the smart ass and we each had a clear section of turf to explore.
Harrison Ford: There's a princess with weird buns in her hair, a giant in a monkey suit or something, it was weird. It was very, very weird.
Mark Hamill: That to him was really inappropriate humor at the time, because I'm sure he's in the zone and he's seeing what he wants to do, and we're just, like, actors trying to stave off boredom because, you know, we've been in the trash compactor all morning.
Carrie Fisher: [about the scene of Luke and Leia swinging across the chasm via rope] That was really early on in the shoot when I was still worried about my weight, and I thought that we were going to miss and I'd hit the wall and they would say, "Nah, still too tubby. Let's bring in Jodie Foster".
Mark Hamill: The things that stick in my mind and make me laugh were, like, memos worried about whether or not the Wookie should have pants. They're looking at this thing and saying, "Couldn't he have some lederhosen?" This is great. Of all the things to worry about, the Wookie has no pants.
David Prowse: [as Darth Vader] Start tearing this ship apart piece by piece until you've found those tapes. Find the passengers in this vessel. I want them alive!
Ken Ralston: I can still hear David Prowse's accent in the Darth Vader mask, muffled, because he would do the real dialogue, trying to curse Carrie Fisher or something. It was hilarious and terrifying at the same time, because we didn't know what Darth sounded like. That was the first time we heard him. We're like, "Is that it? Is he gonna be some Scottish guy? What is this?"
Carrie Fisher: We signed away our likeness so when I look in the mirror, I have to pay George a couple of bucks.
Mark Hamill: I lit up when I found out that they were going to make my face a mask on a box of cereal. With little dots where to cut my eyes out. The idea of me being on bubble gum cards, I thought you had to have athletic ability to be a bubble gum card so, I enjoyed the merchandising aspect of it.
James Earl Jones: George had hired David Prowse, but he said he wanted a so-called "darker" voice. Not in terms of ethnic but in terms of timbre. And the rumor is that he thought of Orson Welles. But he probably thought that Orson might be too recognizable, so what he ends up doing is picking a voice that was born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, and was a stutterer. And that happened to be my voice.
George Lucas: I think we were, like, two weeks over schedule. At that point, the board of directors at Fox started to panic, and tell Allen Ladd Jr. that he had to shut that film down, regardless. And so he came to me and said "Listen, you've got to finish in the next week, 'cause I've got another board meeting, and I can't go in there and say we're still shooting."
Himself - Producer: I kept going on their phone, to the production department, 'this is insane, if we put on a second crew to do this, it costs us more than to go for an extra week. And they said, it doesn't matter, the studio's opinion is that the day deadline is more important than the money you spend.
Narrator: The final scenes were filmed at breakneck speed, with Lucas frantically bicycling from one soundstage to another.
Robert Watts: We did go over at the end, and we split into three units, right at the end, and Gary directed the second unit, and I have the distinction of directing the third unit of Star Wars. My things were like closeups of R2D2's third foot going down. Nothing too dramatic, but that's how we finished it.
Narrator: Already anxious about meeting his deadline, Lucas was shocked after seeing the first assembly of his edited film that spring. The first cut of Star Wars was an unmitigated disaster.
Narrator: With no chance of being ready fby Christmas, a new release date was set for summer, 1977. Some doubted that the film would ever reach theaters. But as bad as things had been with the editing, the situation at ILM was even worse. The company had been trying to create effects that had never been done before. They knew what they wanted to accomplish, but they had yet to create anything usable for the film.
George Lucas: [about ILM's troubles] They had spent half of their budget, and ultimately I had about four shots, none of which I would accept. They were just not good. That was just pretty much of a low point. I had no special effects, and I didn't even know if we were going to get the ships to work. So it was a pretty desperate time, and we had spent half the budget, you know, building the motion control cameras and setting the shop up, and it was a disaster, to say the least.
Narrator: When word of the various post production problems reached the Fox board of directors, they decided they'd had enough of George Lucas and "that science movie".
Narrator: Fearing that Star Wars would get crushed by other summer movies, like Smokey and The Bandit, Fox moved its release to the Wedseday before Memorial Day, but fewer than 40 theaters agreed to show it. Nobody wanted to book it.
Himself - Former Studio Chief, 20th Century Fox: We released in 37 theaters, I think, initially, and broke 36 house records.
Himself - Film Editor: I wound up winning an Academy Award for "Star Wars" before I'd even started thinking about winning Academy Awards.
George Lucas: I expected not to ever make a hit movie. That wasn't my agenda.
[about his audition for George Lucas and Gary Kurtz]
Peter Mayhew: I sat down on one of the sofas, waiting for George. Door opened, and George walked in with Gary behind him. So, naturally, what did I do? I'm raised in England. Soon as someone comes in through the door, I stand up. George goes "Hmm." Virtually turned to Gary, and said "I think we've found him."