A new book about the production of “Return of the Jedi” includes some juicy revelations about the final chapter of George Lucas’s first “Star Wars” trilogy, including abandoned plot points, some big-name directors who were considered to helm the project, and a group of very frisky Ewoks.
Author J.W. Rinzler has written similar accounts of the first two “Star Wars” films, “Episode IV: A New Hope” and “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back,” and just released “The Making of ‘Return of the Jedi,'” coinciding with the 1983 movie’s 30th anniversary. Film.com has a rundown of some of the more intriguing items featured in the 350-page book, which the site calls “arguably the best in Rinzler’s trilogy of behind-the-scenes tomes.”
“Jedi” underwent significant story changes throughout its production, including a complete rehaul of the ending, which originally was supposed to climax with the rebels taking over the Death Star and using it to destroy the Emperor’s lair on a lava-laden planet. Producers wanted a major character like Han Solo to die, but Lucas refused, leading to the infamous “mega-happy ending” featuring the Ewoks, which everyone except Lucas absolutely hated.
Speaking of our furry friends, Rinzler’s book claims that the actors who portrayed them were a raucous bunch who had frequent dressing-room orgies, and crew members had to be careful when summoning them to the set so as not to disrupt intimate moments. If the Ewoks were happy, Lucas was decidedly not — the series mastermind was seriously depressed about all the compromises he had to make during filming, compounded by his wife, Marcia, asking for a divorce seemingly out of the blue. Lucas dreamed of selling off the rights to the franchise to 20th Century Fox, foreshadowing his eventual $ 4 billion deal with Disney.
Other interesting bits include the list of directors Lucas wanted to helm the project — including John Carpenter, David Lynch, Tony Scott, and Mike Newell — and high-profile actors who almost secured roles, such as Sir Ben Kingsley (turned down for the part of Emperor Palpatine for being “too English”) and Alan Rickman (up for Admiral Jerjerrod).
The whole run-down is fascinating and worth a read. Check it out on Film.com, or grab a copy of Rinzler’s book.
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