Did Harrison Ford Improvise His Famous “I Know” Line From Empire Strikes Back?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Harrison Ford’s famous “I know” line in “Empire Strikes Back” was improvised.

When it comes time to actually translate movie screenplays into finished films, there are always going to be situations where things change base on circumstances. Sometimes problems that are beyond anyone’s control. There’s a famous scene in the screenplay for “Fast Times in Ridgement High” where two characters listen to a song from Led Zeppelin’s fourth album. Well, what do you do when Led Zeppelin won’t let you use any songs from their fourth album? These sorts of issues came up frequently in the filming of the first few “Star Wars” films, as George Lucas and company would often find themselves debating between multiple options with where to go with the screenplay. Kill off Obi-Wan Kenobi or let him live? Have Han shoot Greedo first or have Greedo take the first shot?

A similar debate came up during the filming of “Empire Strikes Back” in the scene where Han Solo and Leia say heartfelt goodbyes to each other before Han is encased in Carbonite. Leia professes her love and Han, in response, tells her, “I know.”

It’s a great line, and legend has it that Han’s portrayer, Harrison Ford, improvised the line on the spot and the film’s director, Irving Kershner, kept it in the film.

It’s a very popular legend. But is it true?
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Was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye Originally Written as a Cheap Film Sequel to Star Wars?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was originally written as a film sequel to Star Wars.

One of the things that has been made clear in past legends about the early days of Star Wars (like whether Darth Vader was always supposed to be Luke’s father or whether Luke and Leia were always supposed to be siblings) is that George Lucas was often playing things by ear at the start of his epic film franchise. This makes sense, of course, as there was no way for Lucas to know that his first Star Wars film would become such a sensation, so how could he spend much time planning for future films when he wasn’t even positive that he would get a second film, let alone a franchise of films and related tie-in materials?

This uncertainty led to the intriguing origin of the first full length novel based on the world of Star Wars, Alan Dean Foster’s acclaimed Splinter of the Mind’s Eye.

While the book is famous for being the first notable expansion of the Star Wars universe, it was also, remarkably enough, originally written as the basis for a possible sequel to the original Star Wars!
Continue reading “Was Splinter of the Mind’s Eye Originally Written as a Cheap Film Sequel to Star Wars?”