35 Behind-The-Scenes Star Wars Photos From A Long Time Ago In A Studio Not So Far Away
More than four decades ago, we were introduced to the planets in a distant galaxy. The cast of Star Wars first showed up on movie screens in 1977 and they’ve been in our hearts ever since then. Fast forward to today, Star Wars is one of the most iconic sci-fi sagas and has reached the highest peak of cult status. Even after so much success, the franchise still proves to be a major influential force in modern-day pop culture with a dozen films (sans spin-offs and specials) and countless TV shows. But even the biggest stars had to start small. We scoured the internet to find some of the best behind-the-scenes moments from the original trilogy. Let’s explore the magic behind the movies that shaped our childhood!
In this candid picture, director George Lucas is seen sitting on his director’s chair. This photo was taken on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. He’s sitting with Sir Alec Guinness, otherwise known as Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Lucas is widely known as a legendary filmmaker today, but back in the day, he was famous for his rather interesting style of directing. In the early days, he had difficulty communicating his visionary ideas to his cast. That’s not the case today, though!
A rare moment
This image is iconic since all the four main cast members are in it. There’s Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Peter Mayhew. Not only is it just an iconic image, but it’s also from one of the most memorable scenes of all time in the Star Wars franchise.
In this scene, all the four members are having a fun moment between their takes. Harrison Ford, upon being asked about his on-screen co-stars, said that the feeling of being at ease with one another shows up on the screen! That’s another reason why we’re such huge fans.
George Lucas was a huge fan of the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 film, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is now considered a cult classic. Lucas was so fond of it that he decided to recruit members of that movie’s production team for Star Wars!
He couldn’t gather the whole crew for it, but he hired many similar crew members. That’s why the production team earned the nickname “The Class of 2001” on set while they commenced the filming of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
This photo will defy all the illusions because the person in this image is David Prowse. David Prowse was the man behind the dark Darth Vader suit. He was a bodybuilder before being chosen to play one of the most iconic villains of all time.
Legend also says that Prowse stopped learning his lines upon realizing that his voice would be dubbed over by the voice of James Earl Jones, who had a “darker voice.” He also confused his co-stars by saying the wrong lines and expecting them not to laugh! What a way to goof around!
Back in the late ’70s, Star Wars was known for its groundbreaking filming style and cinematography. It was all on a whole different level. Here’s George Lucas peering into the lens of this rather huge Panavision camera. But what’s most striking is the plastic sheeting…
This image depicts the heights of modernity during those times since the lens changed the whole look of the movie. This camera was used for all the major shots in Episode IV. The sheet over the camera is to protect it from the desert terrain.
Behind the mask
We know Chewbacca isn’t the most handsome being, but he wasn’t born that way. Underneath all the fur, there is a lengthy mask-making process. The genius behind this mask is makeup artist Stuart Freeborn. It takes an artists mind to create something so alien yet realistic.
There he is, adding the final touches to the mask on the late great Peter Mayhew, the man who played Chewbacca. Did you know that the mask was made of a mix of animal hair? That was done to make Chewbacca look as realistic as possible.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, can you guess when this image was taken? Back in 1977, on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, cameramen were happy to capture this behind-the-scenes moment. We see Mark Hamill and Alec Guinness enjoying their time together.
When the camera is rolling, Luke encounters Obi-Wan Kenobi for the first time after he lost R2-D2. The eccentric old loner played a key role in Luke’s story. That’s why this photo holds a very special place in Star Wars history.
The Jedi master
In the Star Wars trilogy (1977-83), voice actor and puppeteer Frank Oz was the voice behind Yoda. So, he’s the one who brought the ageless icon to life. We don’t often think about it, but Yoda didn’t appear until The Empire Strikes Back in the ’80s.
Today, Yoda is known all around the world for his distinctive voice and speech patterns, specifically the tendency to speak in a backward manner. All credits for that go to Frank Oz. This rare photo shows both halves of the iconic master.
The furry aliens
Return of the Jedi from 1983 was one of the most successful movies in the Star Wars franchise. On top of everything else, it was the first time we were introduced to Ewoks. You know, those furry teddy bear-like creatures.
Did you know that under every hood was an actor in a mask? Here we see a young Warwick Davis posing with the beautiful Carrie Fisher. Although he was just a kid when he was an Ewok, Davis’ dwarfism led him to many famous roles as an adult.
The wretched hive of scum and villainy
In this image, the cast and crew are taking a brief break to beat the heat while filming the scene of the Mos Eisley spaceport in A New Hope. Mos Eisley, known as a “wretched hive of scum and villainy,” is one of the most iconic locations in the original trilogy.
Lucas screened two movies just to show the cast and crew what he had in mind for this place. The first inspiration was from the movie Once Upon a Time in the West, and the second was from the movie Fellini Satyricon.
Star Wars fans know that C-3PO, the gold-plated droid, is among the most iconic droids from the franchise. It was actually designed by Anakin Skywalker, and if you see the movies, you’ll know how they boast about him being fluent in over six million communication forms!
Nowadays, filmmakers rely on CGI for a lot of their non-human characters, but back then, practical effects were the way to go. C-3PO wasn’t some computer-generated character, but a gold-plated man named Anthony Daniels. And, like all humans, Daniels needed to drink in the desert heat.
The gentle Chewbacca
Although Chewbacca was Han’s best friend and confidant, the giant furball was friendly to all of our favorite characters. Here we have a cute photo of Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew, the latter being the first actor to put on the Chewbacca mask.
Peter Mayhew was what you’d call a gentle giant. When describing Mayhew, Lucas said that he wasn’t ferocious at all, irrespective of how hard you tried! He also said that he was more like a Wookie. Lucas had envisioned Chewbacca as a scary beast, but Peter’s Chewbacca wasn’t that!
Putting all your efforts
Till now, filmmakers have found a lot of ways to bring the iconic Yoda to life. As you know, Yoda’s character was portrayed by Frank Oz with his amazing puppeteering skills. With time and modern technology, Yoda was brought to life with computer-generated imagery.
Other than Frank Oz, Deep Roy also got the opportunity to bring Yoda to life for some second-long shots in The Empire Strikes Back. In order to do that, Deep Roy had to perform all those scenes on his knees to match Yoda’s height.
We’re really grateful to the person who clicked this image. They had captured the rare moment when Carrie Fisher was taking a nap on a snowmobile out of all things! This image is from the time they were filming Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
During the filming, the crew traveled to Finse, Norway to capture the ice planet of Hoth. Leia wasn’t in every scene, but she didn’t want to miss out on some quality time with her coworkers. Well, unless she was in need of a cat nap.
In the Star Wars movies from the ’70s and ’80s, Mark Hamill had played Luke Skywalker, and everybody who watched the movies instantly became a huge fan of his. That’s how good he was. One of the stories in the plot was Luke and Princess Leia’s relationship.
Princess Leia was played by the late legendary actress Carrie Fisher. The pair’s chemistry on the screen was just amazing. In this photo, you can see Mark and Carrie goofing around on the set. We can really feel the sibling love through the picture.
Here’s an even closer look at Phil Tippett, the animator behind the AT-AT models. He’s seen positioning the miniature models for the Battle of Hoth scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. The main inspiration behind these models was the walking models from War of the Worlds.
Additionally, the VFX team had studied the walking patterns of elephants in-depth to make the movements of the AT-AT models as similar and realistic as possible. Other than the battle scenes, these walkers were all animated using the traditional go-motion methods of that time.
Configuring the droid
In the initial drafts of the scripts for the first Star Wars movie, it was decided that R2-D2 could actually speak in English. On top of that, writers had given the character a foul mouth as well! Later, they decided to remove all that and change it to robotic sound effects.
Although the ability of the robot to speak English was taken away, many of C-3PO’s reactions were left in it, and they also made C-3PO change its identity. George Lucas was very fond of Anthony Daniel’s voice since it gave the feel of a “snooty British butler.”
In this image, you can see the cast members having a good time while filming. The cast was filming in Norway, and you can see they’re smiling for the camera! The cast also met with a winter storm, which was a perfect opportunity for them to shoot Hoth.
The winter storm, although harsh, made for the perfect backdrop in the scene where Luke Skywalker roams through the snow after getting out of the Wampa cave. Mark Hamill actually had to wander in the cold weather while other cast members were all staying warm and comfortable!
The man behind R2-D2
R2-D2 is also a very brave droid from the Star Wars franchise. Although this character was computer-generated later on, that wasn’t how things were back then. So, R2-D2 was played by Kenny Baker! He’s the one who brought this robot to life.
Baker stood at the height of 3’8″, and at that time, he was also one of the only adult actors who could fit in the costume because of his diminutive stature. After he portrayed R2-D2 in six movies, George Lucas paid tribute to him by calling him the heart and soul of R2-D2.
Practicing with Yoda
This photo is as iconic and legendary as it can get. There’s George Lucas in this picture, who’s seen stepping in for Mark Hamill. Could it get any better? The way he’s sitting in the middle of the cave, it’s clear that he’s a hands-on director!
In this image, he’s seen rehearsing with Frank Oz, the actor who played Yoda in the movies. From their conversation, it’s pretty clear that he had very clear intentions about where each scene was supposed to be going. His vision was certainly worth the effort.
The biggest battle ever
For the first time in this scene, we’re introduced to Phil Tippett and Jon Berg. They are the stop-motion animators behind Star Wars. In this image, they’re shooting the Battle of Hoth with the models. That’s right; there weren’t giant robots storming an icy wasteland.
Here, the animators are giving all they have to bring these models to life for the battle scene! It wasn’t easy back in the day because you had to adjust the models frame-by-frame for the scenes. Today, we have modern technology to ease things.
A moment of wisdom
This image is from the set of Episode IV – A New Hope. Mark Hamill appears to have been having fun with the camera on set. As with many directors, Lucas had a crystal clear vision of how every scene should be, but later on, he had a change of plans.
After the shooting of this movie was wrapped up, Lucas gave other directors the creative freedom over movies. That’s why directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson were able to take things to the next level. Lucas wanted to get some good directors and see how they interpret the theme.
This image was taken while filming The Empire Strikes Back. This image is that of a celebratory moment where you can see actor Mark Hamill and director George Lucas raising a toast with another cast member for Sir Alec Guinness!
The reason behind raising a toast to Sir Alec Guinness was his birthday! That would explain the birthday cake. We think it should’ve been a Star Wars-themed cake, but it’s understandable since the movie was filmed in the hot weather of the Tunisian desert.
The other side
This picture was clicked on the set of Episode IV – A New Hope. You can see Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Peter Mayhew, who play the roles of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca, respectively, taking some time out to goof around!
These movies are full of action, adventure, fight scenes, and creatures that we’ve never seen in reality. But, thanks to these pictures, we still get to see the lighter side of the cast behind the scenes! They must have had a great time!
In this rare behind-the-scenes image, you get to see the face behind the iconic Chewbacca mask. Peter Mayhew was quite the trooper since he portrayed Chewbacca in over five films in the franchise. His work is just excellent and we love his dedication to the role.
Stuart Freeborn is as legendary as Peter Mayhew. He was his makeup artist, and he was always happy to pose with Peter, like this image where he holds that legendary mask for the world to see. We’re sure Peter must have been happy to have a moment without wearing the mask!
Wonders of technology
Here’s another classic image from the archives. This image is of the Millennium Falcon model. Of course, you probably know it from its larger version that fits our band of rebels in the cockpit. The ship is big enough to smuggle goods, but after looking at this picture, we’re not so sure…
We’d love to think that Lucas and his crew had built this enormous ship, but in reality, we know that it was all because of some amazing camera work. This model was shot by the Dystraflex camera, the first digital motion photography camera.
This one might seem like a scary zombie apocalypse scene from a movie, but you need to know that behind every one of these masks is the work of a very talented makeup artist. In this case, the man behind these masks is Rick Baker.
Fans were blown away upon seeing Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope when it was released because of the amount of adventure in it. Huge credit goes to Rick Baker’s talent since he made these fantastic aliens look realistic.
Bringing Yoda to life
In this rare and colored photo, you can see Kenyan-English actor Deep Roy in all of his glory. He’s an actor, stuntman, and puppeteer who had stood in to play the role of Yoda for a few scenes in The Empire Strikes Back.
He impressed everyone by playing the role of Yoda, and after that, he got the opportunity to play some more iconic roles in the series. In the Star Wars movies, he had also appeared sometimes as an Ewok and R2-D2. Deep Roy is a legend in the sci-fi world.
In the desert
In this shot, the cast members are seen standing in scorching heat for a discussion between the scenes. Many filmmakers at that time had to rely on real-life weather conditions to depict the various planets in the Star Wars universe.
For example, while filming Episode IV – A New Hope, the cast and crew spent around 17-20 days filming in Tunisia since it was the ideal setting for them to depict Tatooine. Although we know it as a desert planet, Lucas originally envisioned it as a jungle planet!
Taking more inspiration
This image is pure gold. Here we see George Lucas filming the very first scene of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Here’s a fact. The main inspiration behind the creation of Star Wars is the 1930s comic strip Flash Gordon.
George Lucas wanted to adapt the comic into a movie, but he wasn’t able to get the rights for it. Therefore, he created his own space adventure concept, that later on came to be known as Star Wars. Now we’re glad he didn’t get the rights to it.
Determination and dedication
As we’ve mentioned, C-3PO wasn’t a computer program or robot; there was a human under all that metal. The iconic gold color wasn’t just metallic paint; the suit actually had some gold coating to prevent corrosion. Of course, with all that metal, it got pretty hot under there.
Things were so intense that the joints of the costume, which were made of rubber and plastic, would reach their melting point when filming in a hot climate. All of that was pretty dangerous to deal with for Anthony Daniels, who was playing the character. Hats off to his dedication!
Here’s a photo of Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford in their stormtrooper uniforms. This uniform was designed for the scene when they dress up as stormtroopers in order to save Princess Leia. In reality, this idea was taken from Wizard of Oz.
In that movie, there’s a scene where Dorothy’s friends take the disguise of Winkie Guards to rescue Dorothy from the Witch of the West. Also, this idea isn’t the only one that Star Wars has mirrored. There are many ideas that have been borrowed by Star Wars from The Wizard of Oz.
This rare and iconic picture shows Darth Vader going through the Death Star with Commander No. 1. Commander No. 1, also known as Chief Moradmin Bast, was played by Leslie Schofield. Vader’s right-hand man was in many scenes with the iconic villain…
Sadly, most of Leslie’s scenes were cut from the film. Also, this scene was used with a different dialogue in the Star Wars Holiday Special, and let us tell you that it wasn’t the best thing. The actual scene came out in 2011 in the Blu-ray set of Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
Many fans spent a lot of time wondering what’s exactly happening here. Everybody has their own theories about what Harrison Ford and George Lucas are talking about in this image. Also, there’s a famous thread on Reddit where many people strongly believe that Ford is teaching Lucas about bowling.
Come to think of it, that must be a pretty accurate guess, considering the way Ford’s hands are positioned. But, many people also think that Ford is just sharing some Jedi wisdom with the director. There are a lot of theories!
Young Luke Skywalker
We can’t help but take a moment to show some appreciation for Mark Hamill. Luke is such an iconic character, made even more memorable by Hamill’s stellar performance. He was a relatively unknown actor before appearing in Lucas’ film, but he quickly rose to fame after A New Hope.
After playing one of the most innocent characters in movie history, Hamill acted (both on-camera and behind a mic) as major antagonists. Seeing him interact with Carrie Fisher, goofing around behind the scenes, it’s hard to imagine the future Joker sitting there.