Could Ewoks really take down the Imperial soldiers with tree logs? Could Luke Skywalker seriously save Princess Leia with a swing across a chasm in the first Death Star? Does a dead tauntaun really make a life-saving sleeping bag when stranded in the snow? "Star Wars" fans have debated the feasibility of these stunts for decades, but luckily the "MythBusters" team is about to take them on.
Hosts and special-effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, along with team members Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci, and Kari Byron, take on urban legends and use modern-day science to see what's real and what's not in their hit show, which returns to the Discovery Channel with new episodes Saturday, January 4, starting with a geektastic "Star Wars" special.
Long before "MythBusters" debuted in 2003, Savage and Hyneman -- as well as two of their build team members, Imahara and Belleci -- worked at Industrial Light & Magic on films including the "Star Wars" prequels -- "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones," and "Revenge of the Sith." So this "Star Wars" special holds extra sentimental value for the team. Each team member has their own favorite myth from a galaxy far, far away that they're excited to test out.
For Savage, it's "whether Han Solo's cold-weather survival trick of placing Luke Skywalker inside the tauntaun in Episode V was the right move. Suffice to say that we were totally wrong about our assumptions on this story. We were all sure it would turn out one way, and we were all wrong," Savage told Crave.
In addition to testing how to keep Skywalker "Luke warm" in a tauntaun, the team was eager to find out if short Ewoks could indeed use large tree logs to destroy an Imperial AT-ST, also called a Chicken Walker, when they were fighting Darth Vader's attack against Endor.
"When I heard we had this myth I got very excited," Belleci told Crave. "I remember reading about how they did that effect in miniature when I was a kid. It was an intricate build using sheets of nickel that would bend when struck by the model trees. However in our test we needed to see what would happen to a real, life-size armored vehicle when hit by two giant swinging logs. This was probably one of the most dangerous inventions we've ever made on 'MythBusters,' and the results were spectacular. Sorry no spoilers."
"It was an epic build," Byron told Crave. "I have no idea how those little teddy bears could have pulled it off!"
While "MythBusters" tests some of the most iconic moments in "Star Wars" history, there are still a few myths too dangerous even for Buster, their test crash dummy.
"I would love to see if you could actually take down an AT-AT by wrapping its legs with a cable shot from a Rebel Snowspeeder," Belleci said. "Would the cable be strong enough to trip it up or would the AT-AT just keep walking and snap the cable?"
When the MythBusters announced the "Star Wars" special, requests flooded in. "The No. 1 request was to make a working lightsaber," Imahara told Crave. "Unfortunately, making what is essentially a laser sword falls into the deadly category."
Added Savage, "We really, really wanted to make a lightsaber, but perhaps the world isn't ready."
The episode not only has the team testing their favorite "Star Wars" theories, but doing so in costume with special guest stars R2-D2, a helpful Chewbacca, and even a surprise appearance by actress Sophia Bush dressed as Princess Leia.
But you can't have a "Star Wars" special without a squadron of Stormtroopers, and in this special they're all from the fan-run fundraising cosplay organization The 501st Legion -- which everyone on the "MythBusters" team happens to be honorary members of.
With all these appearances from iconic "Star Wars" heroes and villains, one wonders which ones the team would recruit to become part of the "MythBusters" family. Of course, no one can agree on just a single character.
"Luke or Yoda would be great for the heavy lifting, but I think I would never get to build anything myself," Byron said. "So I choose Han Solo. He is hot." Han can also be slightly inappropriate, as Byron discovered in this behind-the-scenes "MythBusters" video.
"Chewbacca!" Savage said. "He can weld. He's strong. He's loyal. And he's a terrific shot. All perfect additions to the 'MythBusters' team."
Belleci's pick? "Boba Fett, because he is a badass."
As for Imahara, "R2-D2 hands down. So useful. We wouldn't need to pack a welder, a fire extinguisher, or a generator. He does it all!"
Have any "Star Wars" questions for the "MythBusters" team? Tweet live with Savage and Hyneman during the "Star Wars" special. And check out this behind-the-scenes video of Savage as he make his first attempt at the same swing across the Death Star that Luke Skywalker made with Princess Leia in "A New Hope." And may the "MythBusters" be with you, always.