Wilford Brimley, who died this weekend, was an ageless actor, though in the opposite way that term is usually used. He was but 49 years old when cast as a senior citizen in the landmark Cocoon, alongside real seniors like Don Ameche and Hume Crome. For a generation of fans, he was just always “old.” Yet, despite that sort of typecasting, he was the heroic lead of a Star Wars movie, at least one made for TV and starring low-rent versions of the Ewoks. Now, in light of his passing, a clip presumably showing Wilford Brimley drop the F-Bomb in the Star Wars TV movie is, again, circulating social media. It’s a Star Wars mystery, and we’re here to solve it.
Now, you might be thinking, “It was 1980s network television, of course Wilford Brimley didn’t drop the F-Bomb in the Star Wars Ewoks movie.” If so, why are you trying to spoil our fun of doing a deep-dive into one of the darkest and silliest corners of the Star Wars universe? Surely, no one at Lucasfilm treats these films as canon. A prime reason why would be that, even though it’s set some months before Return of the Jedi, Wicket W. Warrick appears to be speaking basic and not the Ewok language. Thus, it makes no sense that he couldn’t speak those words to Leia when they meet. (Oh, I’ve got an answer for that!)
What’s even better about these strange little TV movies is that they were the first and only live-action Star Wars Expanded Universe stories fans got until The Mandalorian debuted on Disney+. (Also, those little two-legged creatures Mando and Kuiil ride in the first episode, came from this.)
What Were the Ewoks TV Movies All About?
Image via Lucasfilm
When Return of the Jedi debuted, the Ewoks caused a sensation. Children of a certain age, including your humble correspondent, loved them. Fans of a certain age, meaning older, did not. Before Jar Jar Binks, Ewoks were the kid-friendly Star Wars characters some fans loved to hate. With the trilogy done, Lucasfilm produced two made-for-television movies set on Endor in the year between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In the first of these films,Caravan of Courage: An Ewoks Adventures, a family is stranded on the fourth moon of Endor. The two kids, Mace Towani, played by Eric Walker, and Cindel Towani, played by Aubree Miller, are separated from their parents. With the help of Wicket and the Ewoks, they are reunited.
Then, and this is no hyperbole, the sequel Ewoks: The Battle for Endor starts off with the three-quarters of the Towani family and many, many Ewoks being brutally killed by lizard-like aliens. Cindel and Wicket flee, meeting a creature named Teek that moves at super-speed. (Stay with me.) Teek takes the two his human friend’s home, Noa Briqualon played by Brimley. The gruff old man pretends he wants nothing to do with them, and then immediately becomes the space grandpa we all wish we’d had.
This movie leaned into the high fantasy that makes up the bedrock of Star Wars. Sure, there are blasters and aliens and spaceships. Yet, Star Wars has more in common with Tolkien than it does Battlestar Galactica. Elements from this film, like the Blurrgs and the concept of the Force-witch, found their way into Star Wars canon. Also, I like to think that rather than speaking Basic (Star Wars English), Cindel was actually learning to understand snippets of Ewok-ese. Make it canon, you cowards!
Okay, So Did Wilford Brimley Drop the F-Bomb In the Star Wars Ewoks Movie or Not?
I first noticed the clip of Wilford Brimley supposedly dropping the F-Bomb in the Star Wars Ewoks movie a few years ago. This clip makes the rounds online every few years. You can hear it for yourself in the video above. In light of Brimley’s passing, people are rediscovering this movie, leading Twitter users to share the clip again.
Obviously, I own a copy of this movie as well. So, I put on my noise cancelling headphones and gave it a listen. In my estimation we have a “Yanny or Laurel” situation on our hands. It’s inconceivable to me that network TV censors would have missed this, especially since this film was preceded on television by a parental advisory for how “scary” it is. What’s most likely, is that it’s some kind of gruff noise that our ears allow us to hear as “f*ck.” But that’s not even the most interesting thing about this clip.
The so-called F-Bomb is preceded by two lines, neither of which we actually see Brimley say. “Okay, let’s power up this old tin can,” and “Then, we’re really in trouble.” I can’t be 100 percent certain, but I don’t think it’s even Wilford Brimley saying these lines. It sounds like someone doing some additional dialogue recording, someone who is not Wilford Brimley. So, even if this is the F-bomb in the Star Wars Ewoks TV movie, it’s not Wilford Brimley who says it.
The Ewoks Movies Are Very Good, but Maybe You Had to Be There
Image via Lucasfilm
The two Ewoks films for TV are cheesy network sci-fi made with little-to-no real connection to the larger Star Wars universe. However, to kids in the mid-1980s who thought they weren’t ever getting any more Star Wars, they were a gift. While they don’t have the high production value or mythic themes of the films, they capture the heart and the weirdness of it perfectly. Of course, my bias for these movies runs so deep, I am not to be trusted. I saw them at the perfect age, and nostalgia fuels my continued love for these strange 90-minute features.
Of the two, I always liked Ewoks: The Battle For Endor better. Terak is scary (and played by Carel Struycken, the giant from Twin Peaks). Siân Phillips’ Charal is dope and she turns into a very cool bird. Teek rules and is definitely NOT stupid and weird. Wilford Brimley is incapable of being bad while acting. The villains are wild, and the final battle gave me major last act of Return of the Jedi vibes (as a six-year-old). Wilford Brimley had a storied career, and this role definitely deserves to be celebrated with the best of his other roles.
What do you think? Does it sound like Wilford Brimley dropped the F-Bomb in the Star Wars Ewoks Movie? Did you watch/like them? What is your favorite Brimley role? Tell us all about it in the comments below.
Featured image via Lucasfilm
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.