18 Things to Look for the Next Time You Watch Star Wars

Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

It must be tough being arguably the most influential movie series of all time. With countless websites and message boards dedicated to picking apart individual movies, scenes and moments, it might seem that there’s nothing left to see after you’ve watched the original Star Wars trilogy for approximately the one millionth time. But you’d be wrong.

Despite the fact that fans and viewers have obsessed over A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi since the films were released in the late 1970s and early '80s, there are still some awesome details to look out for when you marathon the movies for Star Wars Day.

STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE (1977)

1. Hidden dashboard dice are a big deal in the sequels and spinoffs.

dice in Star Wars

Unless you’re an eagle-eyed Star Wars superfan, viewers of 2017’s The Last Jedi might have been a bit confused about the importance of Han Solo’s dice, which were used as a reminder of the fallen smuggler. The prop only appears in a single scene in the 1977 original—and no characters even mention them—but they popped up again in The Last Jedi. Rumor has it they’ll make an appearance in the upcoming spinoff movie, Solo. But if you want to see where it all began, look above Luke and Obi-Wan’s heads in the scene where they’re in the Millennium Falcon cockpit, marveling over the size of the Death Star.

2. Luke's womp rat killer is parked in his Tatooine garage

Luke's womp rat killer in Star Wars

When Luke and the rest of the X-Wing fighter pilots are getting debriefed about the size of the small exhaust port design flaw before their attack run on the Death Star, a disbelieving Wedge Antilles tells Luke, “That's impossible, even for a computer.” To which the young Skywalker responds, “I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They're not much bigger than two meters.”

It turns out, we get a glimpse of the scourge of Tatooine’s womp rats earlier in the movie. Luke is seen playing with a small toy version of the T-16, while the real deal is parked in the garage behind him.

3. An expanded universe favorite makes an appearance in Mos Eisley.

Outrider in Star Wars

You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than Mos Eisley, but you will still find a beloved fan favorite character who only appears in the Expanded Universe. One of the most popular non-canon stories, now called Legends, was the 1996 novel Shadows of the Empire, which spawned a popular video game featuring the Han Solo-esque mercenary Dash Rendar. In a change made for the 1997 Star Wars Special Editions, you can see Rendar’s ship, the Outrider, blasting off in the background of the decrepit spaceport as Luke, Obi-Wan, and the droids drive through the city streets.

4. Luke might be a Force ghost ... or just a still photo.

ghostly image of Luke in Star Wars

Was Luke always a Force ghost!? That might be one fan theory too much, but an image early on in A New Hope gives the spooky theory some credence.

In an establishing shot of the Lars homestead on Tatooine, when Uncle Owen looks for Luke after he goes searching for the missing R2-D2, a ghostly image of Luke can be seen in the top right corner of the hovel. Does this mean Luke has been dead all this time? Probably not. To save costs on film, Lucas inserted a still image that unwittingly featured a hidden Mark Hamill.

5. The clumsy stromtropper who had just to poop.

Among the first behind-the-scenes stories you learn about as a Star Wars fan is the infamous stormtrooper who hits their head on a Death Star blast door in pursuit of Luke and Leia. The second thing you could learn about the blunder is that it was a bad case of having to go number-two that caused actor Laurie Goode to bonk his head.

“On about the fourth take, as I shuffled along, I felt my stomach rumbling, and 'bang,' I hit my head," he told The Hollywood Reporter of the infamous scene. "As I wasn't moving too fast, it was more of a scuffed bash, so it didn't hurt, but as no one shouted 'cut,' I thought the shot wasn't wide enough for me to be in frame.”

6. George Lucas put his first movie in the original trilogy.

The young mastermind behind the Star Wars saga got his start in another, very different sci-fi story. His debut, THX 1138, told the Orwellian story of the titular character trying to break free of a drug-regulated dystopian future. It’s decidedly dour stuff, and it’s perhaps no surprise that Lucas found greater success with Star Wars. But he never abandoned his first movie. The number “1138” can be found sprinkled throughout various parts of the saga.

In A New Hope, Luke tries to fool the Imperial guards by telling them Chewie is a prisoner transfer from cell block 1138. The full title of Lucas’s debut is extremely difficult to see, but can be found on a computer monitor behind C-3PO when he and Artoo are trapped in the Death Star hangar control room.

1138 in Star Wars

In The Empire Strikes Back, General Rieekan orders Rogues 10 and 11 to station 3-8 on Hoth, and in Return of the Jedi, Princess Leia has "1138" painted on the helmet of her Boushh disguise.

1138 in Star Wars

7. Lucas added an extra to fix a special edition continuity error.

A Biggs/Luke reunion scene before the Death Star attack run was added for the Special Edition of A New Hope, but that’s not the only thing added in the scene. Lucas included a hidden wipe when an extra walks in front of the camera as a way to hide part of Red Leader's original dialogue, which stated that the veteran pilot had previously met Anakin Skywalker. This detail would have been a continuity error with the then-upcoming Prequel Trilogy. You can see the wipe based on R2-D2’s position in the top right corner of the frame.

Red Leader’s original dialogue in the script was, “I met your father once when I was just a boy, he was a great pilot. You'll do all right. If you've got half of your father's skill, you'll do better than all right.”

8. Beware of reused bounty hunters.

reused bounty hunters in Star Wars

reused bounty hunters in Strar Wars

reused bounty hunters in Strar Wars

George Lucas’s saga was known for revolutionizing the concept of a lived-in future. But what about a retroactively recycled future? The head of the droid bounty hunter IG-88, who along with a handful of other mercenaries like Boba Fett is tasked by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back, can be seen as a lamp structure in the cantina scene in A New Hope. A similar droid can be seen awaiting incineration on Bespin.

STAR WARS: EPISODE V - THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)

9. Two key visual artists are part of the Rebel Alliance on Hoth.

Star Wars sports some of the most distinctive and memorable designs in cinema history. Besides Lucas, the two people perhaps most responsible for those iconic looks are concept artist Ralph McQuarrie and designer and special effects artist Joe Johnston. While their creations—like the Millennium Falcon—speak for themselves onscreen, the pair appear in the same shot onscreen as well.

Lookout for Johnston as the Captain telling a pair of Rebels about the escape plan on Hoth, while McQuarrie can be seen hurriedly walking from right to left.

cameos in Star Wars

10. An AT-AT gets a little help falling down.

falling AT-AT in Star Wars

The harrowing Hoth attack sequence is capped off onscreen with an Imperial AT-AT exploding and tipping over. The sound effects and triumphant music really sell the scene, but a slightly hidden detail reminds you that the sequence was painstakingly created using detailed models. If you look at the bottom right of the smoldering AT-AT you can see a small rod nudging the model over to sell the supposedly massive machine falling on its side.

11. You can eat the asteroids.

The tactile nature of The Empire Strikes Back’s special effects in 1980 made it so you couldn’t just push some buttons and input CG to create rousing sequences like the asteroid field chase between the Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighters. So when they needed asteroids, special effects whizzes like effects cameraman and eventual Return of the Jedi visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston went to the grocery store.

"We had to shoot all these asteroids flying everywhere, so, just for laughs, we went out and bought a bunch of potatoes at the local store,” Ralston said. “We stuck those on rods and we started shooting potatoes, but not telling anybody ... They look pretty much like rock; they’re just smoother and go flying by the cockpit."

12. Boba Fett is unmasked on Bespin ... kind of.

Jeremy Bullock as an Imperial officer in Star Wars

Actor Jeremy Bulloch landed the role of Boba Fett after his half-brother—The Empire Strikes Back producer Robert Watts—asked him to audition. But being the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy isn’t Bulloch’s only role. An actor dropped out on the day he was supposed to play an Imperial officer avoiding Luke and escorting Princess Leia through Cloud City, so Bulloch jumped in as a quick day-of replacement.

13. Mickey Mouse is on Cloud City.

Hidden Mickey in Star Wars

Hidden Mickey in Star Wars

Disney acquired Lucasfilm over three decades after the release of The Empire Strikes Back, but anybody who watches the climactic I-am-your-father battle between Luke and Vader on Cloud City could have anticipated the house of mouse and Lucasfilm’s destiny together. As Luke and Vader battle near a window, which is eventually smashed by the Sith lord, the three-circled silhouette of Mickey Mouse can be seen in a Bespin workstation in the background. It seems the creators of Empire just wanted to get into the Hidden Mickey game.

14. Lando Calrissian is a puppet.

Lando puppet in Star Wars

Before Lando Calrissian escapes with Leia and Chewie at the end of Empire, the trio head to the bottom of Cloud City aboard the Millennium Falcon to save Luke, who is dangling from some space scaffolding. Instead of creating a full-size portion of the Falcon showing actor Billy Dee Williams emerging to save Luke, a miniature panel and a custom-built Lando puppet was created using soft foam and papier-mâché to sell the effect. The Lando puppet can be seen in a split-second shot right before Luke drops down into the Falcon’s open hatch.

STAR WARS: EPISODE VI - RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

15. Ewoks speak English?

While you could chalk this one up to your ears playing tricks on you, it does seem like the Ewoks listening to C-3PO turn to each other and say, “That guy’s wise.” While we can’t detect any other Ewok Anglophiles in Return of the Jedi, we can say the rest of Ewokese is based on Tibetan, Nepali, and Kalmyk languages spoken in Asia.

16. Return of the Jedi's director works for the Empire.

Richard Marquand in Star Wars

While we can vouch for his job as director of Return of the Jedi, we can’t vouch for filmmaker Richard Marquand’s allegiance to the Empire. You can spot Marquand as one of the AT-ST pilots who yells, “Get him off of there” when Chewie and a few Ewoks try to steal the Imperial machine on Endor. You might also recognize the director’s Welsh accent as EV-9D9, the torturous droid at Jabba’s palace that assigns Threepio and Artoo to Jabba’s sail barge.

17. The guy who made every Star Wars sound wants you to freeze.

Ben Burtt in Star Wars

From the hum of the lightsabers to Artoo’s squeals, sound designer Ben Burtt is responsible for the iconic sound effects that make up the Star Wars universe. But the guy who has given this onscreen galaxy some memorable sounds also has a cameo. He plays Imperial Colonel Dyer who catches Han Solo and the group of Rebels attempting to blow up the shield generator, only to be pushed off a ledge.

"I had the opportunity to play a very minor part in the film as an Imperial officer," Burrt said in the Return of the Jedi audio commentary. "In the Endor power station, who jumps out from behind a wall, at the power station, and holds a gun on Han Solo then gets hit with a toolbox and then falling into a generator room below. And my big line was 'Freeze!'"

18. Darth Vader wields Luke's lightsaber in their final fight.

Darth Vader using Luke's lightsaber

During the climactic lightsaber battle between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the evil Sith lord has a phantom lightsaber. You can see Vader holding Luke’s distinctive laser sword while taunting him aboard the Super Star Destroyer. This little continuity error can be chalked up to a deleted scene: When Luke hides under the platform, he was supposed to drop his lightsaber and roll it over to Vader as a way to make peace. Vader picks it up, creating the shot that stayed in the movie. A form of the deleted scenario actually made its way into an early Return of the Jedi poster when the movie was still called Revenge of the Jedi. On the poster, Luke can be seen wielding a red saber, while Vader has a blue one (though Luke wields his own custom made green saber in the final movie).

All screen shots courtesy 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Additional Sources:

The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, by J.W. Rinzler

Star Wars Year by Year: A Visual History, Updated and Expanded Edition, by Daniel Wallace

Updated for 2019

10 Dramatic Downton Abbey Fan Theories

Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Jim Carter as Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Despite its exhaustively polished veneer, Downton Abbey was always a soap opera. Julian Fellowes's historical drama about a family of aristocrats and their many servants could never resist a good shocker, and it deployed plenty of them over the course of six seasons. The valet was suspected of murder (twice). One of the Crawley sisters got knocked up by her older married boyfriend, who promptly went missing. And another sister’s first sexual encounter ended in death. Considering all this, it should come as no surprise that fans have developed similarly wacky theories about the show. These fan theories include secret parentage, undercover spies, and, of course, poison.

Brush up on the best of them before the Downton Abbey movie hits theaters—just in case the whole miscarriage curse comes up.

1. Mr. Carson is Lady Mary’s father.

This theory all comes down to eyes. As you may recall from science class, certain genes are dominant and others are recessive. This is perhaps most easily understood through eye color, where brown eye color, a dominant gene, is expressed as BB and blue eye color, a recessive gene, is expressed as bb. A parent with brown eyes might carry the recessive blue eye gene (i.e. Bb), but if you plot out genetic probabilities on a basic Punnett square, two blue-eyed parents with double bbs have seemingly no shot at producing a Bb baby. Now, what does any of this have to do with Downton Abbey? Both Lord and Lady Grantham have blue eyes, but their eldest daughter, Mary, has brown eyes. This has led some fans to speculate that Lady Mary is actually the daughter of Carson, the family’s beloved butler who has always acted as as sort of second father to Mary. As debunkers have noted, two blue-eyed people can have a brown-eyed child, because recessive genes aren’t that simple. But isn’t it wild to think of Carson and Cora having an affair?

2. Thomas Barrow poisoned Kemal Pamuk.

One of the soapiest subplots of Downton Abbey's first season involved “poor Mr. Pamuk,” the dashing Turkish diplomat who makes a fateful visit to the Abbey. After enjoying a day of fox hunting and an evening of sparkling conversation, Kemal Pamuk drops dead ... right in Lady Mary’s bed. The cause, it is later revealed, was a heart attack, but many viewers suspected something more sinister. Earlier in the episode, the Crawleys’ closeted footman, Thomas Barrow, made a pass at Pamuk, which the diplomat rejected quite forcefully—so much so that he threatened to get Thomas fired. That placed the footman in a tricky situation, but it was nothing a little poison couldn't fix, and that’s exactly why some fans believe Thomas slipped something into Mr. Pamuk’s dinner.

3. Lady Grantham’s miscarriage started a curse.

In the Season 1 finale, tragedy strikes. The newly pregnant Lady Grantham slips on a bar of soap, falling onto the bathroom tiles and inducing a miscarriage. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also, Reddit claims, the source of the house’s future misfortune. According to this theory, the miscarriage kicks off a curse of deadly pregnancies: Lady Sybil dies in childbirth; Matthew Crawley dies in a car accident soon after the birth of his son; and when the maid Ethel Parks becomes pregnant with Major Bryant’s child, he dies, too.

4. Mr. Bates is actually a bad guy.

Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt in Downton Abbey (2019).
Focus Features

Downton Abbey invests a lot of time and effort in convincing us that John Bates, Lord Grantham's trusty, is a great guy—despite his checkered past and multiple murder allegations. But what if everyone’s assumptions about Bates are exactly right? Some Redditors believe Bates is just a remorseless serial killer, pointing to his intense hatred of his first wife and “creepy vibes” as evidence. Anna had better watch out.

5. Michael Gregson is a spy.

Lady Edith’s boss and lover Michael Gregson is the publisher of a London magazine, The Sketch. Thanks to his job, he knows tons of important people, travels all over the world, and speaks multiple languages. He eventually disappears inside Germany in season 4, and later dispatches to the Crawley family imply that he was a victim of Adolf Hitler’s “thugs.” (The show timeline places Gregson in Munich right around the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.) Or at least, that’s the official story. Another one suggests that Gregson was a British spy gathering intel on the insurgent Nazis—and he might not have died at all. His superiors simply needed to feed Edith a lie that would discourage her from poking around, so they made up a cover story that someone who follows the news would believe.

6. Lady Rosamund Painswick is Lady Edith’s mother.

When Lady Edith becomes pregnant with Michael Gregson’s child, she finds a strong support system in her aunt, Lady Rosamund Painswick. Upon learning Edith’s secret, Rosamund travels to Downton Abbey to help her niece through her pregnancy, and suggests adoption options as the due date draws near. Some fans have interpreted this empathy as a clue that Rosamund, not Lady Grantham, is Edith’s true mother. It could also explain why Edith looks (and behaves) so different from her sisters. Or it could just be a sign that Rosamund cares about her niece.

7. Lady Mary’s “operation” was IVF.

In season 3, Lady Mary claims to have undergone a “small operation” that will help her start a family with Matthew. It’s maddeningly unclear what this operation entails, but one wild guess is that she had an early version of IVF. The complete crackpot theory is that this was a cover for Matthew’s infertility, which the doctors wouldn’t disclose to him, presumably to preserve his 1920s masculinity.

8. Lady Mary’s son George becomes a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II.

Lady Mary’s son George is only five years old in the series finale of Downton Abbey. But that means he would theoretically be 18 in the fall of 1939, which is exactly when World War II broke out in Europe. He would almost certainly enlist, as show creator Julian Fellowes himself has suggested. But Decider has more specifically theorized that George would join the Royal Air Force (RAF), “with a desire to rebel against his emotionally distant mother and find purpose in a greater cause.” Sounds like George would be taking part in some dangerous missions, putting the entire family’s future at risk.

9. Public tours keep the estate alive.

The Crawleys spend much of Downton Abbey fretting about the future management of their estate—partially because Lord Grantham is kind of bad at it. But Lady Mary has taken over when the series ends, and Fellowes believes she’d find savvy ways to keep her family’s home in their hands. “She would probably have opened the house to the public in the 1960s, as so many of them did,” Fellowes told Deadline. “And she’d have retreated to a wing, and maybe only occupied the whole house during the winters. My own belief is that the Crawleys would still be there.”

10. The Dowager Countess keeps Denker and Spratt around for the drama.

Gladys Denker is a maid to the Dowager Countess. Septimus Spratt is her butler. These two do not like each other, and they’re quite public about it. Denker and Spratt’s unprofessional squabbles would’ve gotten plenty of other servants fired, but fans believe the Dowager Countess keeps them employed for her own amusement.

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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