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Image copyright: see contents page of each issue. All other material © Visual Imagination 1998 - 2002
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Feature: Star Wars - Attack of the Clones

Force Majeure

Padmé (Natalie Portman) and Anakin (Hayden Christensen) go a-courting

Star Wars Episode II is here, and the clones are massing to attack. Rupert Laight gets the inside track on the birth of an Empire…

George Lucas
"Attack of the Clones is a big, wide-eyed adventure film in the tradition of the Saturday matinee serials of Hollywood's golden age," says its producer/writer/director/ Sci-Fi god. "They were unpretentious: designed to thrill with lots of energy, suspense and excitement. You went to those movies to escape and enjoy yourself, and that's what I wanted to capture with Episode II."

Attack of the Clones, which seems sure to be darker than its predecessor, finds the Republic still dogged by bad luck, strife and chaos. A separatist movement which includes hundreds of planets and weighty corporate alliances is posing a new threat to the galaxy, one that even the mighty Jedi cannot take on single-handed...

Casting the movie, Lucas needed an actor to play Anakin Skywalker who was a decade older than Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace. Hayden Christensen, a virtual unknown, was given the role. Was it a difficult decision for Lucas to make? "Hayden is the newest kid on the block, so to speak. Robin Gurland, our casting director, did a lot of interviewing to find somebody. And then I tested some actors with Natalie Portman and we saw his range and what his qualities were..."

Hayden Christensen
So how does Christensen himself feel about taking on this mammoth task? "The hardest part of playing Anakin was finding the medium between what Jake Lloyd brought to the role and what Sebastian Shaw did as the unmasked Darth Vader [in Return of the Jedi]..."

Long-time Star Wars fan Christensen only had a handful of previous screen appearances. He turned 21 during his recent run in the London production of Kenneth Lonergan's play, This is Our Youth. "I'm just this kid from Toronto who got his start in school plays," says Hayden. "Then one day I'm on this multi-million dollar set surrounded by R2-D2 and C-3PO. Every nuance was surreal. I mean, the light-sabre – a thrill! Meeting R2-D2? An out-of-body experience!"

Natalie Portman
Christensen's co-star, now 20, returns to the role of Amidala a true leading lady. "She's matured as a woman," says Portman. "She's idealistic, honest and good, and because of that, sometimes naive. Padmé doesn't want to fall in love because she thinks she has more important things to accomplish. She sees a future for herself as a leader, which doesn't allow for much vulnerability - the key component of romance. What's more she's no longer queen, which was kind of a relief to me: it means I don't have to wear that heavy old costume!" she laughs.

Ewen McGregor
Alongside Natalie and Hayden you'll find the welcome return of many other stars, including Obi-Wan's younger incarnation. How does McGregor feel about the new film? "Episode I had to do a lot of work to set up all the political stuff with the Senate," he says, "and with a children's movie you have to be careful with all that... This time there's more of a spirit of the first three. It's definitely hotting up!"

by Rupert Laight

Read the full 6-page feature, PLUS 8 pages in Part 2 of 'The Star Wars Story' (covers 1980-92) in:
Starburst #286

Image © 20th Century Fox / Lucasfilm
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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Starburst #286, see below for ordering options
Starburst #286
June 2002
ships from May 2 2002
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