No Evil Ewoks: The Strange Case of Return Of The Jedi’s Treacherous Teddy Bear
It’s not often that this website gets an exclusive, but we’ve got our hands on an early draft of Lawrence Kasdan’s shooting script for Return Of The Jedi that sheds new light on the creative processes of George Lucas.
Our story begins last year, during promotions for Jake Kasdan’s film Bad Teacher. The director, Lawrence’s son, made cryptic reference on several occasions to “evil Ewoks” as a way of describing the tone he wished to strike on the Cameron Diaz-starring black comedy.
Most took Kasdan Jr’s unusual words as light-hearted surrealism, but we backed a hunch that he meant something more specific by his evil Ewoks comment. After all, Jake was six years old when his dad was writing Return Of The Jedi, and may possibly have been privy to script developments expunged from the final draft.
So we asked Lucasfilm, and were presented with a long-buried early draft of the screenplay. Very little of this version would be changed prior to the final shooting script, until we get to this section, just after Han, Luke and co have been accepted by the Ewok tribe.
An Ewok breaks away from his group and scuttles over to a patrolling Stormtrooper. The Ewok – FERLOO – gesticulates frantically, miming the arrival of the Rebels. The disinterested trooper begins to turn away, but Ferloo mimes a lightsaber action and makes its distinctive sound. The Ewok now has the trooper’s attention, and rubs its fingers together as if to denote a desire for payment.
Across this section, Lucas has scrawled, simply, “No evil Ewoks!”
We emailed Lucasfilm, and a spokesperson confirmed that Lucas and Kasdan had disagreed over the benign nature of the Ewoks.
Famously, George Lucas’ original intention had been to use Wookiees to bring down the Empire. Judging from Chewbacca, the walking carpets weren’t beyond criminal activity, and so Kasdan devised the idea of a treacherous Wookiee who sells out the visitors to the Imperial outpost.
By the time the screenplay was written, the decision had been made to create the Ewoks instead. Yet Kasdan was struggling to find a plausible scenario whereby Han and Leia would be captured by the Rebels. The idea of them blundering into a trap seemed to the writer to be a cop-out.
By creating Ferloo, he hoped to overcome this problem, as well as highlighting the baleful influence of the Dark Side even on the cuddliest creatures in the Star Wars universe.
It was not to be, despite Kasdan appealing to his boss’ love of Akira Kurosawa by devising a scene where the treacherous Ferloo is arrowed to death by his Ewok brethren, just like Toshiro Mifune in Throne Of Blood. Instead, Lucas used his power of veto, and consigned Ferloo to the dustbin of history, a long-forgotten relic of rewritten scripts and abandoned story ideas.
Only one person remembered – the writer’s son, who twenty years later would finally find a way of making a film in the spirit of Endor’s one and only evil Ewok.