Star Wars Subway Car


Shot by: Matt Adams, Jason Eppink, Erik Martin
Photography: Katie Sokoler (photo credit for all photos on this page.)


Princess LeiaCody Lindquist
StormtroopersPatrick Cassels, Brian Murphy, Josh Ruben
Darth VaderAlex Scordelis

For our latest mission, we staged a reenactment of the first Princess Leia / Darth Vader scene from Star Wars on a New York City subway car. The white walls and sliding doors on the train reminded us of the rebel ship from the movie, and we thought it would be fun to see how people would react to a surprise appearance by the iconic characters. We spread out the actors along the train line, staging it so they would enter the right car at the right time. Enjoy the video first and then go behind-the-scenes with the photos and report below.

Soaked Stormtroopers: Agents Cassels, Murphy, and Ruben
This mission took place on an incredibly rainy day. Fortunately we were going to be underground for most of it, but our intrepid Stormtroopers got a little bit wet on the way to the mission. The Stormtroopers were played by some of our friends at College Humor. They had bought the costumes for a couple of great videos they produced, and were nice enough to loan them (along with the Vader costume) to us for the mission.

The Vader costume was really awesome. It had like ten different components and included a remote control voice box that made the breathing sound effect. It was a bit of a puzzle getting Agent Scordelis dressed, but we finally figured it out.

We used our beloved 6-train stop at Brooklyn Bridge for the start of the mission. We staggered our agents, sending Darth and the Stormtroopers ahead on one train to meet up with Leia later in a second train. We planned to stage the mission several times over the course of a couple of hours. If you’ve got all those awesome costumes together, you better do it more than once!

Agent Lindquist waits for the first train to depart

Stormtroopers and Vader riding the staging car to their assigned stops
The mission started when Leia entered her train. She had two full stops by herself before the other actors entered.

I created a book for Leia to read using a template I found online. I printed out the fake cover and attached it to one of my favorite prank books, which just so happened to be the right size and color.

Agent Lindquist got a few funny looks from the passengers around her. She was unmistakably Princess Leia with her hair buns and white robe. Yet seeing one person in a costume on the subway isn’t all that strange. Maybe she’s going to a party? Unless you took the time to notice the book she was reading, you might not think too much of it.

The Stormtroopers got a nice reaction when they entered. The car wasn’t very crowded the first time we did it, but those who were there were laughing, particularly when the Stormtroopers grabbed Leia.

At the next stop, Vader’s entrance got a great reaction. Agent Scordelis entered the car with force and authority, but unfortunately didn’t account for the height of his helmet. He knocked his head on the door when he entered! It was hysterical, and we should have video of it in an upcoming “outtakes” video.

The people on the train went crazy for Vader. I think they thought the joke was over once the Stormtroopers got on, but Vader just topped it so well. One thing we learned is that almost every human will immediately take out their camera when they see Darth Vader. We’ve done lots of crazy missions on the subway over the years, but I have never seen so many people taking photographs of our performance. How can you not take a photo of Darth Vader? It’s impossible to resist!

Leia being taken away, after her intense scene with Vader

A guy snaps one last photo of our cast
After the agents exited, we reset to stage the mission again. We were now closer to midtown, so we knew we’d have a larger audience for the next run.

Leia about to enter her train for the 2nd run

This guy was completely perplexed (as seen in the video)

Stormtroopers wait for the passengers to exit the train before entering. Proper protocol!
My job during the mission was to act as Vader’s handler, making sure Agent Scordelis was where he needed to be. He didn’t have great visibility out of his mask, so someone needed to be there in case he needed help. It felt like the two of us were on our own mini-mission. It was hilarious to see Darth Vader standing all by himself at the end of a subway platform, patiently waiting on the train.

Vader got all kinds of funny looks from people as they passed by or gawked at him from across the tracks. At one point, a young guy came up to him and said, “Sith Lord, would it be OK if I took your photo?”

Vader’s entrance the second time went much more smoothly (he remembered to duck!) and the crowd roared when he appeared.

A guy takes a self-portrait with our Stormtroopers
We staged the mission around four times in total, heading uptown as far as 125th Street, and then back down to Union Square.

It was fun watching the reactions of the passengers, young and old. We encountered a few kids throughout the day, and not surprisingly they seemed to be the most excited by the mission. Some seemed flat out amazed.

Watching the characters walk away

Stormtrooper Graveyard
We finally made it down to Union Square and the actors got out of their costumes, helmets littering the station floor. It was a really fun afternoon. It’s always satisfying to see a subway car full of strangers come to life when something hilarious unexpectedly happens. Folks were laughing and chatting with other passengers while they snapped away on their camera phones. A good time was had by all.

Mission Accomplished.


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          • Griveous was a cyborg. In his last fight against Kenobi, he wielded four lightsabers. He was no Jedi nor Sith. But Kenobi, being a Master Jedi, had full mastery of the Force and control of the lightsaber. That helped him win that fight.

          • Here? the scene…


            “Back away! I will deal with this Jedi slime myself!”
            ?General Grievous[src]

            After the Republic received word that Grievous was hiding on Utapau, General Kenobi was sent to kill him. Still weak and injured from his encounter with Windu, he immediately revealed his four arms and attacked the Jedi. During the duel, Grievous’s craven reflexes kicked in, and his inability to penetrate Kenobi’s Form III defense made his offense grow sloppy. Kenobi took advantage of this and altered the angle of his parries to cut Grievous’s wrists. Grievous lost two of his hands to Kenobi before Clone Marshal Commander Cody and the 212th Attack Battalion arrived, ambushing the droid army. Fighting broke out all over Pau City between droid and clone forces.[2]
            General Grievous squares off against Obi-Wan Kenobi on Utapau in what would be his final match.

            Grievous fled on his wheel bike, surprised and angered by Obi-Wan’s ability to fight and gain an advantage in a one on one battle. Pursued by Obi-Wan on a varactyl named Boga, after a prolonged chase and running duel, the two crashed onto Grievous’ private landing dock where the Soulless One’ waited. As they fought hand-to-hand, Grievous made use of his mechanical body and superior strength, although Kenobi managed to rip open Grievous’ previously damaged chest plates, revealing the synth-skin gut-sack containing his remaining organs. Angered, Grievous tossed Kenobi off the platform, but the Jedi managed to catch hold of the edge.[2]

            Grievous, deprived of most of his arsenal, picked up a electrostaff and charged at Kenobi, raising the staff to finish him off. But before he could deliver the killing blow, Kenobi used the Force to summon Grievous’s personal blaster to his outstretched hand. He fired five shots through the gap in Grievous’ chest plate into the general’s gut-sack. The oils preserving Grievous’ organs burst into flames, incinerating his remaining biological components and killing the famed cyborg.

  1. This mission was awesome! The reaction from those ladies was soo funny! I don’t think I could have helped not taking a picture of Vader either! Great job guys, can’t see what you come up with next!

  2. Oh my goodness I am so happy that College Humor and Improv Everywhere are finally teaming up! My two favorite comedy groups together! I can now die in peace.

    I wish I was there to witness it but still glad you guys always have these blog entries to make it seem as if I really was. I am proud to be a New Yorker. THANKYOU!

  3. Oh wow. I really, really wish I lived in New York. Right now. Actually, before this happened. But still. Me. New York. Now. Must happen before next IE prank. *frantically writes to-do list

  4. hehe nice awesome act i want to join Improv Everywhere but becose i live in iceland and do not plan to move or even visit america in the next years than i cant…

  5. Where did you get the costumes from? Are they rubies supreme? The storm troopers could have done with a neck seal but aside from that they look pretty good. Reminds me of halloween when i went on the train to the the club dressed in my Biker Scout armour :)

    • i wasn’t a part of this video but yes those were rubies supreme vader and stromtroopers costumes. They aren’t the quality of 501st costumes, but for a funny skit like that, who cares.

      • I actually sent emails to all of the leadership for the local 501st legions, but only got a response from one guy, who ended up canceling because of the rain. I would have loved to have the 501st and their awesome costumes in this video.

  6. Excellent mission! I was rather hoping the scene would end with Vader asking if the train stopped at Union Square.

    Please keep them coming. If only you could do some London missions to lighten up our British commutes.

  7. Even stormtroopers know proper subway protocol – waiting for passengers to exit before getting on! Thank you for pointing this out to locals and tourists…lol. Love your stuff!

  8. Loved it~!!!!! Thank you!! Can’t wait for the outtakes. Awesome and brilliant just does not do you justice. You are a gift to humanity hee hee!!

  9. You guys are on the list of what makes New York the best city in the world. Because we have great creative minds like yours doing genius, fun ,creative stuff in our subways. ROCK!!!

  10. Wonderful. A side benefit of these stagings is how instantly the subway riders become a community–talking to each other when they normally would never do that.

  11. OMG!! I wish I could have seen this!!! Of course, I would probably have been quoting the scene along with the agents. “You are a traitor!!!!” Yessss!!!!

  12. haha, the force is with you! it is especially funny that vadar hit his helmet on the door frame when there is a goof on “a new hope” (episode 4) where a stormtrooper can be seen bonking his head on the door, too. when the new dvd’s came out a few years ago, they even added a sound effect because it was so famously known!

    • Not only that, but in one of the newer movies Jango Fett is seen hitting his helmet on his ship as well… just to keep it consistant.

      I LOVED this! Wish I had caught the performance :-)

  13. Oh! I so wich I lived in the US.
    Love every littte thing that you do. And for a Star Wars fan, this one was absolutley one of the top favourites <3


    … and please do come to Sweden someday! =)

  14. The Vader entrance was PERFECT. I’ve never watched Star Wars, but am familiar with the characters, etc. by being alive in the USA and this was AWESOME. SO SO SO funny. I second the person (above) who said Leia had the perfect amount of royal dignity, etc. It was SO great. When I first read the title I went, “Ugh, Star Wars…”
    I take it back.
    Genius, Hilarious and Successful!

  15. Well done and very entertaining… but not the kind of thing that actually fools anyone, that is, it doesn’t take them in bit by bit by surprise like when a musical happens in a grocery store and you don’t know who’s going to start singing next.
    Don’t get me wrong, very well done and amusing, and a treat for those there; but not the same caliber of surprise factor as most IE work. Having everyone laugh when Vader got on the train just shows you were getting the comedy reaction, not the classic IE surprise I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening reaction that is so awesome.

    • in reply to TJ It might have been more of a surprise-I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-wow-you-really fooled-me if they had people dressed in street clothes and riding on the subway get involved in trying to rescue Princess Leaia. I loved it though it was funny and I’m sure it lightened the mood I know it made my day.

  16. They came first for Princess Leia, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t Princess Leia.

    They came next for the Rebels, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a rebel.

    Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.

  17. Cute, and I remember groups doing subway improv in the early 90s. But there is a certain arrogance in performing to a captured audience. You assume that your show is more important than what anyone else on the train might be doing, whether is reading for school or just trying to have their only peaceful moment of the day.

  18. Really enjoyed watching it, it would have been great to have been there!

    Is this really improv though? It didn’t seem like you interacted with the other passengers much, just acted out a rehearsed scene.

    I enjoyed it regardless and look forward to seeing more from you guys.

  19. This actually made me cry. Loved it! My daughter goes to school in NYC and I really hope that someday she will be there when you guys do something awesome!

  20. Ok, great idea and great execution. The problem is the acting. Vader would never talk like that. Way too many words…he is slow and calm, always. And maybe somebody with a lower voice? – not a Star Wars geek

  21. Well done. One question: why does IE so often stage events on the 6 train? The IND/BMT (lettered) trains are much wider than the IRT (numbered) trains, and therefore would allow you much more room for staging events (and filming them) without obstruction.

  22. Wouldn’t it have been a surprise if an unsuspecting, ordinary passenger whipped out a light saber, battled the storm troopers and saved the Princess from Darth Vader…

  23. That was totally wicked. If you do anything like that again you should have Han Solo and Chewbacca getting chased by stormtroopers. That was one of my favorite scenes in that movie

      • Quote: “As Jango is ducking into the entry hatch on his ship during his escape from Kamino, he’s seen to strike his head on the lower lip of the door. Animation supervisor Rob Coleman has described this as an inside joke referencing an actual mistake that made it into the final cut of the original Star Wars. When stormtroopers break into the control room where the droids are hiding in that film, one on the right-hand side of the screen can be seen running face-first into the lower edge of the door; the implication is that the stormtroopers, who were revealed in the prequels to have all been cloned from Jango, had inherited this slightly clumsy trait from him as well. However, this is almost certainly a case of the filmmakers sharing a winking reference rather than an actual, serious explanation. After all, most of the troops in Episode IV are standard humans, not clones.”

  24. That was really well done! I thought it was a nice touch how the Stormtrooper’s voice sounded like it was coming through a radio. I did LOL at the Stormtrooper wearing Converse.

  25. You guys are my hero! and heroine! Thanks for bringing some levity down into the dungeons of the NYC subway system… I think you guys have created something really big here. Congrats and best of luck in your future galactic arrests.

    May the Force be with you

  26. A wonderful prank. I am glad that I am not the only person who could do this scene cold from memory.

    What I thought was best about the video was your synthpop remix of Mars: Bringer of War. who mixed that, and is it downloadable?

  27. Next time, add these scenes, before/after the ones you played:

    1. Leia records her plea to Obi Wan into R2D2, who rolls away;
    2. Play existing scenes as they are;
    3. After Leia is taken away, R2D2 reappears with C3P0, who argues with him. The droid jettisons out of the subway car;
    4 Stormtroopers reappear and whisk away a hysterical 3P0.

    • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _________
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ./ It’s a trap!
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _,,,–~~~~~~~~–,_ . . . . ._________/
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ,-‘ : : : :::: :::: :: : : : : :º ‘-, . . /. . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . . . . . .,-‘ :: : : :::: :::: :::: :::: : : :o : ‘-, . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . . . . ,-‘ :: ::: :: : : :: :::: :::: :: : : : : :O ‘-, . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . . .,-‘ : :: :: :: :: :: : : : : : , : : :º :::: :::: ::’; . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . .,-‘ / / : :: :: :: :: : : :::: :::-, ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ; . . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . . /,-‘,’ :: : : : : : : : : :: :: :: : ‘-, ;; ;; ;; ;; ;; ;;| . . . . . . .
      . . . . . . . /,’,-‘ :: :: :: :: :: :: :: : ::_,-~~,_’-, ;; ;; ;; ;; | . . . . . . .
      . . . . . _/ :,’ :/ :: :: :: : : :: :: _,-‘/ : ,-‘;’-‘’’’’~-, ;; ;; ;;,’ . . . . . . . .
      . . . ,-‘ / : : : : : : ,-‘’’ : : :,–‘’ :|| /,-‘-‘–‘’’__,’’’ ;; ;,-‘ . . . . . . . .
      . . . :/,, : : : _,-‘ –,,_ : : : ||/ /,-‘-‘x### :: ;;/ . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . / /—‘’’’ : # : : : : : | | : (O##º : :/ /-‘’ . . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . /,’____ : : ‘-# : , : : : : ‘-,___,-‘,-`-,, . . . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . ‘ ) : : : :’’’’–,,–,,,,,,¯ :: ::–,,_’’-,,’’’¯ :’- :’-, . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . .) : : : : : : ,, : ‘’’’~~~~’ :: :: :: :’’’’’¯ :: ,-‘ :,/ . . . . . . . . .
      . . . . .,/ /|\| | :/ / : : : : : : : ,’-, :: :: :: :: ::,–‘’ :,-‘ . . . . . . . .
      . . . . .\’|\ |/ ‘/ / :: :_–,, : , | )’; :: :: :: :,-‘’ : ,-‘ : : : , . . . . . . .
      . . . ./¯ :| | : |/ :: ::—-, :/ :|/ :: :: ,-‘’ : :,-‘ : : : : : : ‘’-,,_ . . . .
      . . ..| : : :/ ‘’-(, :: :: :: ‘’’’’~,,,,,’’ :: ,-‘’ : :,-‘ : : : : : : : : :,-‘’’\ . . . .
      . ,-‘ : : : | : : ‘’) : : :¯’’’’~-,: : ,–‘’’ : :,-‘’ : : : : : : : : : ,-‘ :¯’’’’’-,_ .
      ./ : : : : :’-, :: | :: :: :: _,,-‘’’’¯ : ,–‘’ : : : : : : : : : : : / : : : : : : :’’-,
      / : : : : : -, :¯’’’’’’’’’’’¯ : : _,,-~’’ : : : : : : : : : : : : : :| : : : : : : : : :
      : : : : : : :¯’’~~~~~~’’’ : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : | : : : : : : : : :

  28. This is hilarious. I wish I could have been there to see this in person. Having been 11 when Star Wars was released, I have very fond memories of this trilogy and I would have loved to see this recreated. Especially Vader hitting his head on his first entrance.

  29. Wonderful performance, and glorious timing. Kudos.

    Still, am I the only one saddened by the fact that noone can actually experience something himself anymore? As soon as anything out of the ordinary happens — even amongst dozens of people — each and everybody grabs a fistful of megapixels and from that moment on watches everything through the control monitor. Don’t people realize that making yourself a documenter puts you outside of any experience by definition?

  30. Actually, my favorite part is “off-camera,” when the young guy asks “Sith Lord, is it OK if I take your picture?”

    I’d have roared, “NO!!..” and then.. “..oh, okay.”

  31. genius!
    I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it! I love it!
    the reaction from the people was great too.

  32. Really fun to watch people have a good time, even for just a brief time. You know they talked about it all day to everyone they came in contact with.
    Good job to all of you. Can’t wait for more! :)

  33. I kind of miss missions that are clever and subtle and confuse the bystanders who are caught up in it. Who would have seen this and thought it was anything but silly pranksters? Where’s the subversion?

  34. Funny skit guys. I was introduced to your group with the ghostbusters video. I bet the guy doing vader was warm. I have the rubies Vader costume and it doesn’t breathe very well. I laughed my butt off on my lunch break. Well done guys.

  35. nice done! they now should do the Mos Eilsey Cantina scene when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han and Chewbacca in some bar or coffee shop. That’d be awesome to see chewbacca in a bar!

  36. Awesome mission, as usual! It wasn’t until I looked at the original “Dummies Book” template page that I understood the “LTA Edition” reference on the cover of “Galactic Rebellion for Dummies.” Brilliant! :-) Thanks for putting a smile on my face today.

  37. Unbelievably cool. I love when that old dude reads the book title, and he looks at her, then reads it again and thinks, “STAR WARS!”. This is just brilliant and it must’ve been a nightmare to pull off but man is it well done. Love the MOOG Synth score too. The dialogue sounds different when read by a stranger. This should be an ongoing performance piece that the subway hires them to do. Like in France! Nice work you guys. Thanks. Made my morning.

  38. I’m sure that you guys made someone’s crappy day feel a lot better after that. I wish that you guys just appeared whenever I was in public and having a crappy day. How could anyone not laugh?

  39. I’m very optimistic about the new progress that is being made on propulsion technologies, the future is open, there is a good possibility that lunar cities will become a reality during this century, going to Mars and beyond as well.

  40. Great work! Even better would be to plant a passenger taking photos and at the end have darth get pissed and use the force on them. “I said no photos! *slam into wall with the force and death grip*”

  41. I would LOVE to be part of something so COOL!!! To be in the “front row” and see everyone’s reactions to characters we all know and love would be AWESOME!! A performance executed perfectly. bravo!

  42. I love you guys! Your stagings are clever and fun and always have a positive vibe to them that I think other mass improv/flash mob organizers around the country miss. And well Star Wars. I am a child of Star Wars so this completely rocks.

  43. I have watched, read, and been fascinated by your website. I acted in college in various plays so I find these performances to be amazing. This is by far the best one yet. Darth Vader is an icon and should be considered for all future Star Wars scenes. Keep up the amazing missions!

  44. Really funny, love everything that you guys do. Being a musician, I love to be able to connect with people and make them feel better through music, just like you guys do with your stunts. Keep up the good work.

  45. If only something this exciting happened on my L car (in Chicago) someday! (And if only some passengers would be as polite as the Stormtroopers.) The Force is obviously with you. Thanks from a forever Star Wars fan!

  46. So now I know what that was all about! I was there on that subway, when all of this happens. It was so funny and everyone was laughing and having a great time. I wasn’t sure what it was though, so I, being the persistent person I am, looked up “Star Wars Subway” and luckily, this came up! Well done.

  47. This one-two-three punch is a great setup for many missions, and you guys should consider changing the theme around while keeping the basic idea. The first person in costume is amusing, the second is funny, and the third stop makes it an awesome prank. Other possible themes:

    Sarah Connor, attacked by a T2, saved by a T1
    Ape, homo erectus, caveman


  48. Did the guy playing Darth Vader happen to be in a bank in New Jersey yesterday around noon? Maybe mixing up re-enacting a bank robbery with star wars?

  49. Fantastic !
    The sickest thing though, I was totally expecting one of the stormtroopers to hit his head on the way in XD
    Amazing, really wish I was there :)
    Keep up your brilliant work !

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