How Star Wars Was Almost Shot in the Philippines

Apparently, even just the thought of our wild jungles made George Lucas itch.

Science says that the sun is the center of the solar system, but hardcore Star Wars fans would argue that it’s Tatooine that everything and everyone revolves around—at least in the universe created by George Lucas.

One of the most iconic worlds in film history, Tatooine is a pivotal location in the entire Star Wars franchise, acting as the home world of major characters like Anakin (Darth Vader) and Luke Skywalker. A large chunk of action in the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies takes place on Tatooine. Despite being portrayed as a no man’s land located in the middle of nowhere, Star Wars just can’t stop itself from returning to the mysterious desert planet.

Photo by IMDB.

But before it became one of the most important planets in the Galactic Empire, Tatooine was just an idea in George Lucas’ mind. And in the early drafts of the story, Tatooine was supposed to be a jungle. The home of Luke Skywalker, the great hero of the Clone Wars, was first imagined to be a lush jungle instead of a desolated desert. Before shooting of the very first Star Wars film (Episode IV A New Hope) took place, Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz went to the Philippines to find a shooting location for the franchise. 


However, “the bare thought of spending months shooting in the jungle made Lucas itchy.” To accommodate Lucas’ skin issues, Tatooine was transformed from a jungle into a desert, and its originally planned jungle landscape was made a part of its fictional history. According to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Tatooine was once covered by great jungles and large oceans until war and climate change ruined the planet.

Photo by IMDB.

So there you have it. The greatest “What If” in the Star Wars universe. Had Lucas pushed through with keeping Tatooine a jungle, the Philippines might have been the main shooting location for one of the greatest franchises of all time. It would have changed the entire look of the franchise, replacing Star Wars’ iconic desert aesthetic (which was shot in Tunisia) with the jungles of the Philippines.

But alas, the Force chose a different path. And as every Jedi knows, trust in the Force.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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