Please support Game Informer. Print magazine subscriptions are less than $2 per issue

gamer culture

A Mistake Led To The Creation Of The Death Star's Trench Run

by Andrew Reiner on Sep 30, 2016 at 07:20 AM

A game of darts was the inspiration behind the X-Wing's unique design, and the Death Star's trench wasn't planned until a problem arose with its model. Colin Cantwell shares these stories and more in a Reddit AMA he recently conducted. Cantwell, who recently turned 84, served as a designer at Lucasfilm's Industrial Lights and Magic VFX division.

Cantwell's involvement with Star Wars came from a recommendation from a friend. "I built miniatures of my own space ship designs and built terrains," he recalls. "I had friends that worked on American Graffiti who introduced me to George Lucas. George saw some of my miniatures and liked them well enough that he invited me to discuss a project…which eventually became Star Wars."

Cantwell says that George Lucas assigned him on the project to design a Death Star. He also held the title of lead star ship designer for Star Wars: A New Hope. "I didn't originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench," he recalls. "When I was working with the mold, I noticed the two halves had shrunk at the point where they met across the middle. It would have taken a week of work just to fill and sand and refill this depression. So, to save me the labor, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the film!"

Lucas gave Cantwell plenty of freedom to dream up the designs that he thought would work best. We always hear that films often change right up until the film is sent to theaters, but in this instance, Lucas apparently changed the dynamics of the final space battle based on the defect that led to the Death Star having a trench.