< Go to Homepage

Celebrate ‘Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary With Stunning Photos From Lucasfilm Vaults

Behind-the-scenes pics with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and the rest of the 'Episode IV' cast.

Movies By

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.

Star Wars
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in landspeeder setting out to look for R2-D2 on Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars Behind The Scene
That landspeeder got less than stellar gas milage on London streets. (Courtesy Lucas Film)

“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.’

RELATED: HOW ‘STAR WARS’ CHANGED THE PLANET

“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.”

Star Wars
Darth Vader battles Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Alec Guinness) in a lightsaber duel on the Death Star battle station. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars Behind The Scenes
Model-makers get the Millennium Falcon in shape for the ship’s arrival on the Death Star. (Courtesy Lucas Film)

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.

Star Wars Behind The Scenes
George Lucas speaks to Anthony Daniels on the Tunisian desert set of the original ‘Star Wars’ (Courtesy Lucas Film)

“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.

Star Wars Behind The Scene
George Lucas stands ready to film as Peter Mayhew’s costume gets a touch-up. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars Behind The Scene
Shooting the opening crawl. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars Behind The Scene
Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher share a laugh on the set. (Courtesy LucasFilm)
Star Wars
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) get in character. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars
American actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in costume during a promotional photo in 1977. (Photo by Terry O’Neill/Getty Images)
Star Wars
‘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)
Star Wars
C-3PO, Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi (Alec Guinness), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the desert of Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) scans the horizon of his home planet of Tatooine. (Courtesy Lucas Film)
Star Wars
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)

*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.”