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Star Wars Death Star's famed feature was a complete accident

Film artist Colin Cantwell tells Reddit how the iconic trench came to be. And it turns out the X-Wing owes its life to a night of drinking.

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The Death Star's famed trench was a happy accident.

Lucasfilm

Most of us make mistakes like scraping our car misjudging the Starbucks drive-thru. When Colin Cantwell makes a mistake, legends are born.

Cantwell, 84, was a concept artist and spacecraft designer on the original "Star Wars" film, at the time called "The Star Wars." That's certainly not all he's done, but for some sci-fi fans, that alone would be enough.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Tuesday, Cantwell discussed his contributions to space and sci-fi history, including a certain Death Star trench that turned out to be a happy accident for the Rebel Alliance.

"George Lucas gave me the project of designing a 'Death Star,'" Cantwell wrote on Reddit. "I didn't originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench, but 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!"

The X-Wing fighter resulted from a similar almost-accidental moment, inspired by a night out.

"It had to be ultracool and different from all the other associations with aircraft etc.," Cantwell said. "In other words it had to be alien and fit in with the rest of the story...A dart being thrown at a target in a British pub gave me the original concept and then it went forward from there."