Few fans may realize that during the making of Return of the Jedi
in 1982, a second production was underway that simultaneously employed the same cast, crew, locations, and title--well, almost. We're talking of course about Return of the Ewok
, a fan-favorite featurette starring Warwick Davis
and helmed by Jedi
first assistant director David Tomblin.
Today, fans caught a rare chance to witness one of the only surviving copies of this legendary short, with live running commentary by Davis himself.
"Return of the Ewok was a sort of promotional film to be shown as a feature before Return of the Jedi," explained Davis. Though it never was actually used officially, "it's become a fan favorite."
Debuting publicly for the first time in several years, Return of the Ewok follows the fictional exploits of 11-year old Warwick Davis who decides to be an actor after seeing The Empire Strikes Back in a theater (Davis actually got the role at an open call). In the make-believe romp, Davis acquires an agent who casts him as an Ewok and sends him aimlessly to the Return of the Jedi set. Unfortunately, Davis' character doesn't know where to report, and finds himself searching various Jedi sets, dressing rooms, and locations for his rightful place.
One big treat for fans is the many run-ins Davis' character has with the original cast and crew. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher all appear donning their Jedi costumes, caught in a rare sequence filmed for the short in the actual Jedi production dressing rooms.
Davis recalled fond memories with Jedi's core cast. "Carrie would be standing by with milk and cookies after I came out of my costume somewhat sautéed," remembered Davis. Mark Hamill actually delivered a huge box of toys after asking 11-year old Davis for a list of his toy wants, which filled two full pages. And his memories of Ford? "My memory of Harrison was of hugging his leg", a comment which undoubtedly made many female members of the audience feeling a bit envious.
Other cast members were also featured along with Davis in the short, including Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, and several members of Jabba's rogue gallery. One stand-out crowd pleaser was Davis' fully costumed Wicket character searching through the halls of the second Death Star and Jabba's Palace, two locations the Return of the Jedi character never ventured. However, in the alternate universe of Return of the Ewok, anything can happen...and does!
Rife with wit and inside jokes, Return of the Ewok offered a rare glimpse for fans into some of the antics that work behind the scenes of shooting an episode in the Star Wars saga. Thanks to Davis' exclusive running commentary today, a few more facets of this rare gem have been revealed.