After several long years of waiting, we are finally settling into the home stretch when it comes to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With less than one month to go, it's time to settle back and get your brain prepped for Star Wars-related mayhem. To pass the time, why don't you learn some facts about a galaxy far, far away so that you can annoy your friends at your Star Wars party?
You are throwing a Star Wars party, right?
6. Not one, not two, but FOUR actors portrayed Darth Vader in the original trilogy.
Vader is arguably one of the most iconic film villains of all time. In fact, the American Film Institute listed him as the third greatest bad guy on their 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains list. A big part of his appeal is that mysterious costume of his, and that deep dark voice. However, James Earl Jones, the man behind the voice, is not the man behind the mask. That honor goes to David Prowse, an English bodybuilder who walked in Vader’s boots for all three original movies. While Prowse performed some of the Sith lord’s stunts himself, the lightsaber battles in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were performed by Bob Anderson, famed fencer and fight choreographer. And at the end of Episode VI, when Luke sees his father’s face for the first time, the audience is actually seeing Sebastian Shaw, a renowned English Shakespearian actor.
Bonus fact: James Earl Jones was not credited in the original release of Star Wars (A New Hope).
5. A “parsec” is a unit of distance, not time.
We’ve all heard it: Han Solo’s famous brag that the Millennium Falcon is “the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” While it sounds like Captain Solo is talking about time, a parsec is actually equal to about 3.26 light-years (making twelve parsecs about 39 light-years). It is unclear whether the mistake is on George Lucas or Han, but Expanded Universe author Kevin J. Anderson attempted to fix the misunderstanding by writing that the Kessel Run is a dangerous route that passes several black holes. Most ships have to go around the black holes, but the Falcon is fast enough to fly through without getting sucked in.
4. Star Wars television spin-offs have been around since…a long time ago.
Shows like Rebels and The Clone Wars might be all the rage right now, but the idea of a televised Star Wars spin-off has been around since November 17, 1978—a day that shall live in infamy. This was, of course, the one and only time that the Star Wars Holiday Special was shown on TV. There’s a lot to be said about the special, but I have a bad feeling that I’ll run out of space. It took Earth 6 years to recover from that one. In 1984 and 1985, two Ewok-themed live-action movies were released, followed by the animated television series Star Wars: Ewoks. A second show, Star Wars: Droids, was released at the same time. After that, though, it wasn’t until 2003 that the next spin-off appeared in the form of Star Wars: Clone Wars (not to be mistaken with the CGI series).
3. Every Star Wars film has been nominated for at least one Academy Award.
If you’re anything like me, you probably grew up thinking that Star Wars didn’t need no stinkin’ Oscars. Well, prepare to have your mind blown: Star Wars was nominated for 10 (ten!) Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director. Now, those are the four it didn’t win, but it still walked away (can a film walk?) with six statues that night, plus an additional Special Achievement Award. The other two original trilogy films also received Special Achievement Awards, but Empire Strikes Back was the last film in the series to win a regular Oscar.
Bonus fact: George Lucas belongs to a special list of directors who have been nominated for both an Academy Award for Best Director and a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Director. Other people on the list include Stanley Kubrick and M. Night Shyamalan.
2. Obi-Wan’s uncle is an X-Wing pilot.
Let me clarify. Most of you know Wedge Antilles from the original trilogy (for those of you struggling to remember, he’s like the only rebel pilot other than Luke who doesn’t die at the end of Episode IV). He was played by a Scottish actor named Denis Lawson. He has a sister named Carol McGregor—as in, mother of Ewan McGregor, as in the Obi-Wan of the prequel trilogy.
1. You can sort-of visit Tatooine (after a sort-of long plane ride).
If my scouring of the internet has served me well, then I present to you my final (first?) exciting Star Wars fact. I put this at number one because rather than just being a bit of trivia to repeat every time you re-watch the films, it’s also something that could inspire an adventure someday. Lots of people know that most of Tatooine’s scenes (that rhymes) were filmed in Tunisia, but not as many people know that a lot of the sets can still be found there. My personal favorite is the Krayt dragon skeleton: fiberglass bones that were used in the first film, left in the desert for several decades, and rediscovered by crews filming Attack of the Clones. You can also see the Lars homestead, Mos Espa slave quarters, and lots of rocks. Find a cool travel guide here.