Even John Williams Thought Luke and Leia Were Going to End Up Together

Changes to continuity led to a big misunderstanding behind the scenes.

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

The original Star Wars trilogy had something of a continuity issue. While George Lucas’ original plan for the saga included 12 individual films, those plans drastically changed after his first installment, A New Hope (then just called Star Wars). There was obviously no shortage of interest in his galaxy far away, at least not from the audiences that made the film a phenomenon. Lucas, on the other hand, constantly altered his plans for a larger saga, whittling the franchise down from 12 films to nine, and later down to three. The original trilogy would tell a concise story in just three installments, but would largely fail to answer its big mysteries in ways that made sense.

One of Star Wars’ biggest heelturns came with the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa. Originally, they were two parts of a love triangle, with the roguish Han Solo rounding out the trio. The bond between Luke and Leia was pretty clear in A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back — so much so that famed composer John Williams even wrote a love theme for the pair.

Even John Williams was confused by Luke’s relationship to Leia.


In Williams’ defense, the sounds of Star Wars are romantic by design. That was the composer’s central brief when he was working on music for A New Hope. “George was very clear to me that the music should be symphonic,” Williams recalled in a recent interview with Variety. “He said it should be classical. Not Bach — not classical in the baroque sense, but in the romantic sense, the Byronic sense.”

That said, he might have gone a little too romantic where Luke and Leia were concerned. “I learned later that they were brother and sister, so it was an incestuous idea to have a love theme for them,” Williams admitted. “But George never told us there was going to be a second film!”

Luke and Leia’s musical motif remains a part of the original trilogy. Nowadays, it’s known just as “Princess Leia’s Theme,” but Williams still worked to distance his first idea from any notion of incest. He crafted Leia an all-new theme for the second film, The Empire Strikes Back, which most associate with her romance with Han. Despite that minor slip-up, Williams went onto define the sonic world of Star Wars. He composed the music for all nine films in the saga, crafting 45 recurring themes, according to his most studious fans.

Though composers like Michael Giacchino, Nicholas Britell, and Michael Abels have since picked up where Williams left off, he left an indelible impression on the franchise. To call his work influential would be a major understatement, especially given the effect it’s had on science fiction in general.

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