Behind the Scenes
Orignally the Imperial homeworld was intended to appear in Return of the Jedi and serve as a stage for the confrontation between Luke and the Emperor. Lucas describes the planet to Ralph McQuarrie as covered by a single, gigantic city with hundreds of layers and building. In McQuarrie’s own mind, the city had been "Built a thousand years ago, layer after layer." He also described it as "dark and spooky with enormous buildings and a metal surface and, down below, huge avenues like on Wall Street in Manhattan." McQuarrie decided that the Emperor’s throne room should be located at the lowest level of the planet, far below the ground. Based on the concept, the Emperor’s throne room became a large cave by lava.
As the script of Jedi progressed, it became apparent that the film did not need to include the Imperial capital. Instead, the action was shifted to the second Death Star.
Images of Coruscant first appeared in The Illustrated Star Wars Universe by Ralph McQuarrie and Kevin J. Anderson. When George Lucas approached the Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi, he decided to insert a brief scene of Coruscant as a test run for the imagery to be used in Star Wars Episode 1. Based on McQuarrie’s earlier designs, a talented crew at ILM generated the massive cityscape of Coruscant for the Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi using matte painting, physical models, and computer graphics.