Why Family Guy's Empire spoof made Lucas squeamish

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Family Guy: Something, Something, Something Dark Side is the latest Star Wars spoof video that places the animated show's characters into George Lucas' Star Wars movies—in this case, The Empire Strikes Back—but director Dominic Polcino revealed that it took a bit of persuasion to get Lucas to sign off on some of the satire's racier elements.

Dark Side drops a few F-bombs, as when Peter and Chris argue over the Family Guy-vs.-Robot Chicken spoofs of Star Wars. (Seth Green, voice of Chris, produces Robot Chicken.) Still, Family Guy got away with it.

"[Lucasfilm] were leery about some of the humor that went dark," Polcino revealed. "Saying, 'F--k you, dad' and stuff like that."

In the new DVD movie, Peter Griffin returns as Han Solo, Chris as Luke Skywalker, Lois as Princess Leia and Stewie as Darth Vader. Creator Seth MacFarlane also cast neighbor Mort Goldman as Lando Calrissian. ("We were running out of characters," MacFarlane said at his Los Angeles home on Dec. 12. "We figured hey, how about Mort?")

There's other racy bits, as when the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi reappears to guide Luke to Dagobah. Since Herbert the pedophile is Obi-Wan, he tries to take advantage of a prone Skywalker. "If you're familiar with Empire, when Luke is passed out in the snow, about to die, Obi-Wan appears and tells him to go study with Yoda," said Mike Henry, voice of Herbert and Cleveland, in a separate interview. "Basically, in the real movie it's like, 'Luke,' and he wakes up. In this movie, it's 'Chris. Take your pants off.' Actually, I think exactly what it said was, 'Luke, pull your pants down.' So we're just going right at it."

The spoof is faithful, more or less, to the original version of Empire and not the 1997 special edition, which changed a few things, including dubbing a girlie scream over Luke's fall down the shaft in Cloud City.

"I actually wanted to make sure that our crew never saw the redone versions, because I wanted to be faithful to the original original, where he does not scream," Polcino said. "In ours, I think he doesn't scream, but he does find his hand."

Not all of Family Guy's changes were controversial. Some were just practical. Since baby Stewie plays Darth Vader, the climactic lightsaber battle had to be modified. A Stewie-sized Vader had to be more acrobatic to fend off a Chris-sized Luke. "Yeah, we have to jump up in the air almost like Yoda did in the other movies," Polcino said.

For all that was changed, you might also be surprised how many lines remain exactly as spoken in the 1980 original film. Even though Chris has a squeaky voice, Green tried to sound as much like Mark Hamill's Luke as he could. "There are some moments in this that are verbatim from the movie," Green said. "So when a really specific performance is something that you remember from the movie, we try and replicate it."

Empire Strikes Back isn't the only movie spoofed in Something, Something, Something Dark Side. As you might expect in a Family Guy production, there are other references to pop culture: American Idol, The Real World, even Rocky IV (Luke's training with Yoda features Rocky-style workouts, intercut with the live-action footage of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) working out). "I wasn't in the writer's room for that, but that's a good moment," Polcino said.

Something, Something, Something Dark Side is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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