Star Wars - the Future

For a long time ahead on a continent far, far away, George Lucas will be charting young Anakin Skywalker’s journey from benign Jedi warrior to the Empire’s lord of darkness...

Setting a new course with Obi-Wan and Jar Jar

Next of Anakin

Also in this issue: The Art of Star Wars on display in London, with some thoughts from Anthony Daniels. Plus: Jerome Blake, aka Rune Haako, aka Mas Amedda, Oppo Rancisis, Horox Ryyder, Orn Free Taa and Lot Dodd's Assistant... hang on, that's six Phantom Menace roles and only one actor being interviewed!

by Jason Caro

Selected from Starburst #262

Looking ahead to Episode 2 of Star Wars

For Episodes II and III of the new Star Wars trilogy, this galaxy’s most successful film-maker has shifted his base of operations from Britain to Australia, as he works towards a May 2002 release for the next instalment. The final Star Wars movie (if Lucas sticks to his revised plan of only shooting two of the three trilogies originally envisaged) will open three years later, some 28 years after the first, staggeringly successful movie in the series.

How incredible that it’s a full two years away from the unveiling of… whatever the hell Lucas decides to call it (more of that later), yet rumours of the continuing story, new characters and – most importantly – the casting of Anakin Mk II, have been bombarding the Net. Without a mole at ILM or a hidden camcorder at the Skywalker ranch, it is nigh on impossible to say for sure what jolly japes the young Darth will get up to. But, some pieces of the Jedi jigsaw seem to be slotting into place.

So what do we know as indisputable facts? Well, unlike the first trilogy, Lucas will direct all three chapters. Even before The Phantom Menace’s opening, rumours of Frank (The Green Mile) Darabont and David (The Fight Club) Fincher helming episodes two and three were circulating. The notion of Fincher orchestrating Anakin’s shift to the dark side in the third film is nothing short of orgasmic, but Lucas’s all-encompassing creative control is now to such an extent that you half expect to see him at the Odeon selling the popcorn.

As far as the cast goes, the majority of Phantom Menace’s line-up will definitely return – Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Samuel L Jackson and Frank Oz’s vocal chords are back in business, as are Pernilla August and – this might not please everyone – Ahmed Best, the voice of Jar Jar Binks. Although as yet unconfirmed, it would be a colossal shock not to find Ian McDiarmid stabbing everyone in the back.

Amongst the slightly hard to swallow supporting cast rumours are appearances by Robert Carlyle, obviously as a psychopath of some sort, and Gillian Anderson as a female member of the Jedi council (“Yoda, it’s me!”). So what of Liam Neeson?

Well, a lot of people assume that because dead Jedi masters tend to return as glowing apparitions, a neon blue Qui-Gon Jinn will be around to dish out cryptic advice to Ewan and just-confirmed Hayden Christiansen, the new Anakin. While you can never rule out a return for Episode I’s most popular character not called Darth Maul, there is one Phantom plot-point that bothered a lot of Star Wars fans – how come Qui-Gon’s body didn’t disappear when he went to Jedi heaven. Perhaps there is some story significance here...

Do you remember the first time you heard that Episode I’s proper title was The Phantom Menace and you laughed for ages, because it sounded like a cheesy old Flash Gordon episode and assumed that was just a cunning ruse to stop people printing fake t-shirts and such stuff?

Well, if there’s one thing that nobody has the faintest idea about, it is the official moniker for Episode II. But that hasn’t stopped eager fans from posting their own suggestions on the Net. Amongst the better efforts are: Shifting of the Force; The Clone Wars (ooh, that’s a new one!); Fear of the Sith; Destiny of a Jedi; The Ultimate Choice; Legacy of Power; and A New Enemy.

However, there are a few being offered that make The Phantom Menace sound like a masterpiece of snappy titling. My personal favourites are: The Seduction of Anakin; The Blanket of Darkness; The Republic Struggles Within; Annihilation of the Jedi (it’s wrong for a start); Love and Evil Temptations; and worst of them all – Bride of Skywalker.

Images © LucasFilm
Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction

Interview by Ian Spelling

Jake Lloyd as the young Anakin Skywalker

It all boils down to underwear and books for Jake Lloyd. Lloyd, of course, portrayed Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I.

And a year after the film’s release, the young actor looks back at his journey to a galaxy far, far away with a bit of awe, a touch of it’s-just-a-movie and a dollop of enough-already.

“I’m thinking the strangest place was underwear,” he says, referring to the most bizarre place his image turned up. “The coolest place was on all the Star Wars books. I’m a real bookworm, so that was cool.”

Episode I obviously worked well for plenty of people across the universe, for it earned $1 billion or so between its North American and international releases. However, it left many moviegoers, particularly long-time fans, wanting for more. The loudest and harshest criticism involved the Lucas-penned story, which was aimed either directly at kids around the age of seven or at the seven-year-old kid in all of us.

Star Wars was a kids’ film when it came out, and George made another film for them, except that he made it for them and their kids,” Lloyd argues.

“I knew I was making a family film. I was surprised that people were surprised about that. People who were kids when they saw Star Wars expected The Phantom Menace to be more for them, and I thought that was kind of odd. Star Wars was about Science Fiction and stuff that kids really like, and so was The Phantom Menace.”

And, Lloyd adds, kids he has met out on the street seem to appreciate both the film and Anakin. “They say they loved the film or they’ll come up to me and ask for my autograph,” Lloyd says. “I’m actually surprised that kids are still coming up to me now and asking me about the film. I have no clue why...”

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