Lucasfilm expert Phil Szostak debunks long-standing 'Star Wars' myths

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Anthony Daniels, Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

When it comes to the original Star Wars trilogy, it can often feel like there’s very little left to learn about the production of the three films masterminded by George Lucas.

There are countless books and documentaries - some official, many unofficial - on the genesis of 1977’s A New Hope, 1980’s Empire Strikes Back, and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, that cover every aspect of the productions in exhaustive detail.

However, as Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak has been proving on his Twitter account, many Star Wars details that we take as “facts” are actually untrue: many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.

As master Yoda advises: sometimes we must unlearn what we have learned.

For example: There’s an oft-repeated story that the name Darth Vader was chosen by George Lucas because it means “Dark Father” in German (or sometimes Dutch), foreshadowing the revelations on Bespin in Episode V.

As the author of The Art of Star Wars book series explains below, this “fact” is actually total nonsense.

Since 3 August, Szostak has been updating a Twitter thread of linked messages on the shared theme of “Star Wars Mythbusters”, covering a wide range of long-standing misconceptions about the original trilogy.

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The author, whose next book The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will be released on 20 December, has tackled a wide range of topics including the origin of Chewbacca’s name (it’s not Russian), the reason for Mark Hamill’s facial scarring in Empire Strikes Back (it really was written in following the actor’s car crash), and he’s cleared up whether the Millennium Falcon was designed to look like a half-eaten burger (it wasn’t).

Alec Guinness with director, screenwriter and producer George Lucas on the set of his movie Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

However our favourite revelation confirms that George Lucas really was making up the original trilogy as he went along, and the idea that the filmmaker had the arc of the three films (or even nine) mapped out in detail, just isn’t true. The whole Vader is Luke’s father plot point was never part of the original story.

In 1977’s Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) tells Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) that Darth Vader “betrayed and murdered” his father Anakin. However, in 1980’s Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader reveals to Luke that he is Anakin.

In 1983’s Return of the Jedi Obi-Wan’s Force ghost retcons the original lie telling Luke: “Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.”

Read more: Everything we know about Star Wars 9

But, according to Szostak, despite Guinness’ measured performance that suggests a hint of hesitation before Obi-Wan tells the “lie”, when that scene on Tatooine was filmed in 1976, Anakin Skywalker really HAD been murdered by Darth Vader, because they were two different people at the time.

As Szostak explains, it was only in April 1978 - a year after the first film’s release - while Lucas was writing the second draft of the script that would eventually become Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, that Vader and Anakin became the same person.

So what Obi-Wan told Luke about his father on Tatooine was objectively true... until the certain point of view was changed later on.

"Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view" - Obi-Wan was right all along.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the culmination of the nine-film Skywalker saga, hits U.K. cinemas on 19 December.