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The scenes in space were the product of highly advanced matte photography. One element of a scene, an imperial battle cruiser, for instance, would be shot. Then another element, like a rebel fighter, would be photographed and superimposed on it, as if it were another layer on a cake. Some of the shots in the final space battle had 67 such layers, one on top of the other. Says Art Director Joe Johnston: "We have to make each film better than the one previous. The public demands a special-effects extravaganza, something that will blow them away for their five dollars. We were never sure whether the movie was a vehicle for the effects or for the story."
Acting in the Star Wars epics has made the leads rich, famous and impatient to do other things. "Seven years is a long time," says Fisher, 26. "I was 19 when I did the first movie and 25 when I did the last one. I grew up on these films. They were my college in space." Tired of playing "a princess with a beef," as she calls the lovely Leia, Fisher asked that she be given an extra dimension in Jedi. Lucas acceded, in a manner of speaking. In one scene with Jabba, Lucas took off her bulky space outfit and put her into a belly dancer's costume. Says she: "I then wanted to say, 'Would you look at what they're making me wear?' "
Hamill, 31, is trying to relieve his Star Wars frustrations on the stage. He has been playing the part of Mozart in Amadeus for 5½ months, first on tour and now on Broadway. Like all the other actors, Hamill is devoted to Lucas, but he admits that "these movies didn't give me much pride in my craft. I had to act onstage to get that. Special-effects movies are hard on actors. You find yourself giving an impassioned speech to a big lobster in a flight suit. Only later do you see how silly it looks."
Hamill has turned down roles similar to that of Luke, but finds that producers do not consider him for character parts he seeks, such as that of the fanatic cyclist in Breaking Away. Like many actors who have become famous playing one character, he has stepped into a kind of prison. Now, he says, "I'm relieved and excited that this is the end." But Hamill, says Lucas, is "going to have to play Luke Skywalker characters for a long time, just as Harrison played so many semi-Han Solo parts. Mark's a very good actor. Eventually people will realize that he can do something else."
Ford, 40, is the only one to break out of his Star Wars mold, and that is only because he won the role of Indiana Jones in another Lucas-inspired film, Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark. Star Wars gave him visibility, but Raiders made him a box-office draw. "People want fairy tales in their lives, and I'm lucky enough to provide them," Ford says with a touch of cynicism. "There is no difference between doing this kind of film and playing King Lear. The actor's job is exactly the same: dress up and pretend." Nonetheless, he wanted Han to do something different in Jedi, and that was to die. "I thought it would give the myth some body. Han Solo really had no place to go. He's got no papa, he's got no mamma, he's got no story. But that was the one thing I was unable to convince George of."