50 unknown facts about Star Wars  OCT 13 2015

50 unknown facts about Star Wars, many gleaned from How Star Wars Conquered the Universe. I've heard some of these before, but not many...the list doesn't include low-hanging fruit like Harrison Ford's carpentry.

Favorite facts: 1. Early on, Luke Skywalker's nickname was "Wormy". Wormy! 2. The actor who portrayed Vader, David Prowse, spoke his dialogue on set not knowing he would be dubbed over. Because of his West Country accent, the other cast members referred to Prowse as Darth Farmer.

Speaking of Harrison Ford's carpentry, the new biography of Joan Didion has a good story about that time Didion and her husband John Dunne hired Ford to do some construction for them.

Off and on, for over six month, the Dunnes engaged a construction crew to expand the waterside deck, install waxed pine bookshelves, and lay terra-cotta floor tiles. The men tore out prefabricated plywood walls and pulled up "icky green" flooring. Harrison Ford headed the crew. "They were the most sophisticated people I knew," Ford said. "I was the first thing they saw in the morning and the last thing they saw before cocktails."

In Vegas, Dunne wrote, "[W]hat had started as a two-month job ... [stretched] into its sixth month and the construction account was four thousand dollars overdrawn... I fired the contractor. 'Jesus, man, I understand,' he said. He was an out-of-work actor and his crew sniffed a lot of cocaine and when he left he unexpectedly gave me a soul-brother handshake, grabbing my thumb while I was left with an unimportant part of his little finger." The next day, Dunne realized the only thing separating him and his family from the Pacific Ocean was a clear sheet of Pliofilm where the French doors were supposed to go. "I rehired the contractor," he wrote. "'Jesus, man, I understand,' the contractor said."

Much later, when Didion's daughter was ill, Ford did the family a further service.

The following day, Didion flew from Teterboro to Los Angeles on Harrison Ford's private plane, along with her friend Earl McGrath. Ford "happened to be in New York and heard about Q's condition ... and called to offer to take Joan," said Sean Michael. "I find that to be a beautiful thing," he said. "A man you hire to build cabinets, thirty years later is flying you in his private jet to your daughter's hospital bedside."

Jesus, man, I understand.

Update: Some of Ford's comments from the book were taken from Carolyn Kellogg's reporting on an awards festival.

As if to make up for her absence, a parade of stars was in attendance. Harrison Ford, who was prepared to present her the award, spoke somewhat extemporaneously instead. "I just want to tell you all how much her friendship has meant to me," he said. Forty years ago, Didion and her husband, John Gregory Dunne, were "The most sophisticated people I knew."

Then a carpenter, Ford was hired by Didion and Dunne to build their beach house in Malibu. "I was the first thing they saw in the morning and the last thing they saw" -- he paused -- "before cocktails."

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