Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in landspeeder setting out to look for R2-D2 on Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Films)
That landspeeder got less than stellar gas milage on L.A. streets. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Darth Vader battles Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in a lightsaber duel on the Death Star battle station. ? Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Model-makers get the Millennium Falcon in shape for a Kessel Run. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
George Lucas speaks to Anthony Daniels on the Tunisian desert set of the original 'Star Wars' (Courtesy Lucas Film)
George Lucas stands ready to film as Peter Mayhew's costume gets a touch-up. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Shooting the opening crawl. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher share a laugh on the set. (Courtesy LucasFilm)
"Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia in the Death Star battle station after their escape from the garbage room. ? Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved." (Courtesy Lucas Film)
American actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in costume during a promotional photo in 1977. (Photo by Terry O'Neill/Getty Images)
'Star Wars' was so popular, the American Public Health Department found the droids they were looking for for this poster to raise awareness for an immunization push. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
"C-3PO, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the desert of Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) scans the horizon of his home planet of Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) loads the plans for the Death Star battle station with a plea for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi into R2-D2 on the Rebel Blockade Runner. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
A long time ago in a theater right around the block …
When George Lucas’ Star Wars opened up on March 25, 1977, even the cast and crew thought the space opera wouldn’t last these many Earth orbits around the sun. And the proof is in these behind-the-scene shots from the making of the eventual cinematic classic pulled from the Lucasfilm archives by RealClearLife.
“On my first day, I had the scene with Peter Cushing [Grand Moff Tarkin] and I came in and it was, ‘I thought I recognized your foul stench or holding Vader’s leash,'” Carrie Fisher told* this reporter a year before her death. “That’s when George directed me. He said, ‘This is really serious. Your planet is about to get blown up, you’re losing everything. This really means a lot.’
“And I understood then what he needed that character to be which was hard for me, because it was going to take away anything ironic that I would bring. At first, anytime that earnest stuff came in, it’s when I’m earnest bossy or worried, that’s where I can have a hard time. To the point where in the first movie, I had a British accent. Who could say, ‘I thought I recognized your foul stench when I was brought aboard.’ What? Say that like an American and I’ll pay you.”
The team was on its own hero’s journey, just trying to complete the film under the looming shadow of the most fearsome weapon in their universe—studio accountants who threatened to close down the production.
It’s a good thing that they didn’t.
Lucas never fully recovered, ditching the directing chair for the Star Wars sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, before helming the prequel movies. But despite the billions that the franchise, its licensing, and Lucasfilm’s sale to Disney made for the reclusive filmmaker, he never really felt comfortable with the giant Death Star–sized shadow looming over him after May 24, 1977.
“I came to that conclusion really around Return of the Jedi,” the film pioneer told the Daily News in 2015. “By the time I came to the thing, I knew I was always going to be, ‘George (Star Wars) Lucas.’ There wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I had to get used to it.
“Because everything else was going to fade into oblivion, and once you realize it, it doesn’t worry you much anymore.”
See some more amazing behind-the-scenes photos from the now legendary shoot.
*Fisher’s actual lines in the movie were: “Governor Tarkin, I should’ve expected to find you holding Vader’s leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.”