What do you think of John Madden

Making of Star Wars radio drama

Return of the Jedi

Soon after the Empire the planning for the adaptation of the last part of the saga began, Return of the Jedi. But the time for such a major project was extremely bad, because Ronald Reagan had been elected President and had set a new economic course, the Reaganomicsthat dealt a severe blow to United States public broadcasting and resulted in substantial budget cuts.

So for years there was no money for Return of the Jedi, to HighBridge audio 1995 was finally able to provide a budget, albeit a little less than National Public Radio could bring this in the 80s. For those involved in the first two radio adaptations, the start of production was still a real relief. 3PO spokesman Anthony Daniels later recalled: "There was this constant unease about not having completed this version of the trilogy." So when asked if he wanted to be there again, Daniels just asked if writer Brian Daley would be there again. After this was confirmed to him, he immediately agreed.
But Brian Daley was already seriously ill at this point: he had been fighting cancer for years. He was already unable to travel to the writers' meeting, which is why only Lucasfilm employee Lucy Wilson, project producer Mel Sahr, sound engineer Tom Voegeli, director John Madden, co-author John Whitman and trilogy veteran Anthony Daniels came together, each with requests for changes and suggestions. One of these changes affected the scene in which Oola dances for Jabba and is handed over to the rancor shortly afterwards. Originally a dialogue between 3POs and Boba Fett was supposed to accompany this scene, which was found to be too unrealistic due to the very different personalities of the two. So Boba Fett became Mara Jade, who can now be heard in her role as the dancer Arica, who is waiting in Jabba's palace for Luke Skywalker to murder him.

The cast of the last part of the radio trilogy has to be called astonishing, because almost all the previous speakers were there again: Perry King was again Han Solo, Ann Sachs was again Princess Leia and Brock Peters was still a worthy Darth Vader. Also back were Bernard Behrens as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Daniels as the last original film actor again as C-3PO and Ken Hiller as the narrator. From the speakers of The Empire Strikes Back John "Yoda" Lithgow and Paul "Palpatine" Hecht were there again. Only Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams had to be replaced with Joshua Fardon as Luke Skywalker and Arye Gross as Lando Calrissian.

The recordings themselves took place in February 1996 and only took 6 days to complete, which took place in a relaxed atmosphere. The new recording studio posed a certain problem, which, as Daniels later said, "was more suitable for heavy metal bands than for gold-metal droids who had to see their dialogue book". The dim lighting, however, had the advantage of hiding the wrinkles of the speakers, who could reassure one another without being too giddy, in the 13 years since The Empire Strikes Back Not having aged a day.

Perry King (Han), Ann Sachs (Leia), John Madden (director), Anthony Daniels (3PO) and Joshua Fardon (Luke) while recording Episode VI

However, since the studio did not have individual sound booths, which were necessary to individually record all those actors whose voices would be alienated in post-production - i.e. droids, helmet wearers and radio speakers - better wall cupboards and storage rooms were converted into recording booths. Paul Hecht therefore had to perform his appearance as the sinister emperor in a tiny, blanket-lined storage room. The acting performance of film and television legend Ed Asner, who later became part of the Knights of the Old Republic-Play as Jedi Master Vrook Lamar should return to the galaxy far, far away and in Return of the Jedi than Jabba can be heard: Without technical revisions or tricks.
The recordings of the passionate love scenes of Han Solo and Princess Leia were also worth seeing: While Perry King caressed his hand on his microphone, Ann Sachs reacted a few meters away on her microphone with an enthusiastic groan. So it was only a good thing that the recording studio was soundproof, because the hysterical laughter in the manager's room would undoubtedly have spoiled the scene.

Brian Daley had been kept up to date by phone throughout the recording. However, when the final scenes were recorded on Saturday afternoon, the actors began to write their own scenes and then record them. The finished tape, mixed with sound effects and music, should then be sent to Daley. Here is a short extract:

Leia: Here is Princess Leia Organa on Earth with a transmission to Brian Daley. We seem to be stuck in a kind of time warp. Luke is getting younger and younger as he evolves into a Jedi Knight and ...
Han: Leia?
Leia: Han?
Han: Are you talking to Brian?
Leia: Uh, yeah ...
Han: You love him don't you?
Leia: Oh yes.
Han: Okay. Well, that's clear. Fine. When he comes back I won't be in your way anymore.
Leia: No, it's not what you think. He is the author!
Han: The author? Then you don't ... Well ... But then Brian isn't ...
Leia: Why don't you stop worrying about Brian and kiss me ...
Han: Ah, Leia ... Mmmm ...
Leia: Mmmmmm .... [Jabba's music playing] Urgh, take your tongue away, you disgusting ... thing, you! [bursts out laughing]
Perry King (laughing): Hey Brian!
Perry and Ann Sachs: We love you. And we miss you!
John Madden: We miss you ...

That same evening, the actors and employees celebrated the end of the shoot in a restaurant in Los Angeles. While they toasted Brian Daley and cheered their absent friend, he died on February 11, 1996 at the age of only 49 years of his long, serious illness. He probably foresaw his death and therefore let Han Solo speak for himself in his last project: "Do you think a little thing like death can stop us ?!"

In Daley's spirit, sound engineer Tom Voegeli and director John Madden brought the project to a close. The two benefited from the fact that previously unreleased music from the movie had only recently been made available. Tom Voegeli had enough material to support the radio adaptation. In the summer of 1996 the radio drama was released by Return of the Jedi then broadcast on United States public radio and released on CD a little later. The trilogy was finally over.

Writer Brian Daley thought well in advance: "All three films end with a very visual scene with no dialogue, the throne room in Episode IV, the rebel fleet in Episode V and the Ewok celebration in Episode VI. Accordingly, I skipped the radio adaptations always end with a sentence from Luke Skywalker because it is ultimately his story. " He had already finished the sentence for the adaptation of Episode VI years earlier: "The Jedi have returned."

The radio adaptation of Episode VI - Brian Daley's last project - is dedicated to his memory.


Daley, Brian: Star Wars: The National Public Radio Dramatization, New York 1994.
Daley, Brian: Star Wars - The Empire Strikes Back: The National Public Radio Dramatization, New York 1995.
Daley, Brian: Star Wars - Return of the Jedi: The Original Radio Drama, London 1996.
The Making Of Star Wars: Radio Drama, St. Paul 1993.
The Empire Strikes Back: A Radio Adventure Continues, St. Paul 1993.
Return Of The Jedi: The Culmination Of A Radio Drama, St. Paul 1996.

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