How dirty dishes and hamburgers inspired the Millennium Falcon design

Joe Johnston revealed how the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars was made, and let's just say the process wasn't exactly what you'd expect

Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars

Inspiration can come from anywhere. A quiet walk, a bowl of cereal, the way the light shines on something. For Star Wars, one of the greatest designs in cinematic history came from a member of production who’d left it too long to do his dishes.

Speaking at Star Wars Celebration this year, director Joe Johnston explained the process for coming up with the Millennium Falcon. “The ship that was going to be Han Solo’s ship, we didn’t have a name yet,” he said, as recounted by GeekTyrant. “But, this show called Space 1999 came out and it had a ship that looked very much like Han Solo’s ship and George didn’t want to copy anybody at all. So, he said we need a new ship, we need it right away because we’re starting to shoot this stuff.”

Under pressure, Johnston started to just look around his place, and something caught his eye. “I’m looking in the kitchen area at a stack of dirty dishes that seems to have always been there, and I took the plate and you put another one exactly like it on top, it sort of looks like a flying saucer,” he recalls. “But, you put engines in the back, that sort of implies that it’s going to go that way.”

Gradually, it all came together. Eventually, we ended up with one of the most iconic images in all of Star Wars movies and Star Wars series.

“I played around and did a series of five or six drawings and there was one that I really liked, and the trick is how to make sure that George likes the same one,” Johnston remembers. “So, I sort of finished that one a little bit more and outlined it and I showed it to him and he liked the same one I liked.”

And there you have it: cinematic history. The Star Wars Original Trilogy is full of anecdotes like this, as great designers and creators found new ways to achieve the ambitious films. A personal favourite, the origin of the Krayt dragon, which is still in Tunisia!

If this has you hankering for a galaxy far, far away, check out our list of the best sci-fi series.