David Bowie's "Space Oddity" contains the following lines:

Ground control to Major Tom

Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong

Can you hear me, major tom?

This is somewhat similar to the famous "Luke, you've turned off your targeting computer! What's wrong?" from Star Wars: A New Hope. (Though of course Luke keeps his radio-circuit on, unlike Major Tom.)

More striking are the following lines:

Tell my wife I love her very much.

She knows.

This is very similar to Harrison Ford's famous ad-libbed "I know" in response to Leia telling Han that she loves him.

Were either or both of these lines in Star Wars inspired by "Space Oddity"?

1 Answer 1


According to J.W. Rinzler's excellent "The Making of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" (reproduced here on Yahoo Movies) the line was largely the result of a back-and-forth conversation between Harrison Ford and the film's screenwriter Irvin Kershner. At first the line was written as “Just remember that, ‘cause I’ll be back.”, followed by "Don’t worry about this", followed by just "I'll be back", finally followed by the iconic "I know".

It's hard to say whether Ford was inspired by Bowie but it's quite easy to see how the line evolved over time rather than being inspired by a single leap of Ford's imagination:

“I think she ought to just say, ‘I love you,’ as I’m passing by her,” Ford suggests to Kershner. Later in the conversation, he makes the change to his own line, saying, “If she says, ‘I love you,’ and I say, ‘I know,’ it’s beautiful and it’s acceptable and it’s funny.”

So it’s true that the iconic line was penned by Ford, but it wasn’t improvised on the spot: It was hashed out with Kershner before the shoot. Ford also wanted to add a line of reassurance to Leia —something like “Don’t worry about this” — which eventually became his saying to Chewbacca, “You have to take care of her.” Han Solo’s final scripted line, “I’ll be back,” ended up on the cutting room floor, because Kershner wanted to make it clear that Han Solo might not survive the carbon freeze. “You can’t [reassure her] because you don’t know whether this is the end or not,” the director said to Ford.

Ironically, that tender moment resulted in a fight between Ford and Carrie Fisher, who was annoyed that her co-star made changes to their scene without her input. When it came time for Han and Leia to profess their love, the two actors still weren’t speaking. “Harrison is a very fine actor. I regarded that scene as entirely his, which is why I gave him so much opportunity to tell me how he thought we should treat it,” Kerschner explains in Rinzler’s book. “That led to a little tension with Carrie.”

When Kershner put his first cut of The Empire Strikes Back together, executive producer George Lucas pushed back against the new dialogue, fearing that the audience would laugh at Han’s line. In a 2010 Vanity Fair interview, Kershner said that Lucas insisted on doing two preview screenings, one with Han Solo’s scripted line (which Kershner had also shot) and another with Ford’s version. “At the first preview in San Francisco, the house broke up after Han Solo said ‘I know,’” Kershner recalls. “When the film was over, people came up and said that is the most wonderful line and it worked. So George decided not to have the second screening.”


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