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Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones
|Ah, yes, it's that time again. From the staff that helped you figure out where you'd seen everyone in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings before... a primer on the cast of the latest Star Wars flick. (More, assorted trivia is available on our Trivia and Guide for Ijits pages.)
Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker)
Stats: Canadian, 21; 16 IMDB credits
Breakout role: The punk self-asphyxiating son in Life as a House, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Coming soon: Shattered Glass (as disgraced journalist Stephen Glass; in development)
Did you know? Appeared in In the Mouth of Madness as “Paper Boy” (that was him??)… Not to mention appearances on the kids’ horror shows “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” and “Goosebumps”… Also appeared in The Virgin Suicides, directed by Sofia Coppola--who played Amidala’s handmaiden Saché in Episode I.
Natalie Portman (Padmé Amidala)
Stats: Israeli-born American, 20; 18 IMDB credits
Breakout role: As a vengeful young hitgirl in The Professional. Portman’s age during filming? Twelve.
Memorable roles: Heat, Beautiful Girls, Everyone Says I Love You, Mars Attacks!, Anywhere But Here, Where the Heart Is, Zoolander (as herself)
Coming soon: Portman will costar with Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger in Cold Mountain, possibly the highest concentration of beautiful people to ever be found in one film.
Did you know?: Time magazine says, “Portman has completed her credits for a B.A. in psychology but may go back for another year of college”… She also was one of the “additional voices” in the animated Prince of Egypt.
Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Stats: Scottish, 31; 36 IMDB credits
Breakout role: Trainspotting
Memorable roles: Shallow Grave, The Pillow Book, Emma, Velvet Goldmine, Moulin Rouge, Black Hawk Down
Not-so-memorable: Being Human, Blue Juice (with Catherine Zeta-Jones), Brassed Off, A Life Less Ordinary, Nightwatch, Eye of the Beholder
Coming soon: Young Adam, Down with Love (with Renee Zellweger), Borgia (as Cesare Borgia)
Did you know?: McGregor studied several Alec Guinness films to keep some continuity between the two actors’ portrayals of Obi-Wan. However, he’s like Guinness in another way: McGregor does not mince words.
Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu)
Stats: American, 54; 97 IMDB credits
Breakout role: Pulp Fiction
Memorable roles: Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Jurassic Park, Fresh, Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Eve’s Bayou, Jackie Brown, Unbreakable
Not-so memorable: Sea of Love, Coming to America, Def by Temptation, The Exorcist III, Goodfellas, Johnny Suede, National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, Amos & Andrew, Sphere, Deep Blue Sea
Coming soon: Formula 51/The 51st State, whichever they end up calling it; XXX; Basic; was most recently in Changing Lanes
Did you know?: Everyone joked about it, but it seems to have finally come true: Jackson reportedly had “B.M.F” inscribed on his keepsake lightsaber, referring to a certain inscription on a certain wallet in Pulp Fiction. Which makes us really, really happy.
Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett)
Stats: Kiwi/Maori, 42; 24 IMDB credits
Breakout role: Once Were Warriors
Other appearances: Barb Wire, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Six Days Seven Nights, From Dusk Till Dawn 3, Vertical Limit. Here’s hoping the man gets the roles Once Were Warriors proved he deserves.
Did you know?: The Star Wars prequels seem to continually raise allegations of racism, and while Cleolinda herself has dissed the suspect accents of Jar Jar and the Neimoidians, even she thinks the latest complaint is bulls—t: pundits claim Morrison obviously looks “Latino” (despite the fact that he is Maori and speaks with an audible New Zealand accent), thus making the clone troopers derived from his character’s DNA a symbolic representation of…white folks’ fears of Mexican immigrants?!
Christopher Lee (Count Dooku/Darth Tyrannus)
Stats: English, 80; 242 film credits (not even including TV) on the IMDB--he’s literally in the record books for his expansive international career.
Classic roles (deep breath): Dracula in dozens of movies, particularly the Hammer flicks of the ’50s and ’60s; Sherlock Holmes, Fu Manchu, Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man, Scaramanga in the Bond flick The Man with the Golden Gun, the Burgomaster in Sleepy Hollow (1999), Flay in Gormenghast, Saruman in the new Lord of the Rings trilogy. But he says he prefers to be known not so much for the Dracula roles as his more recent ones.
Not-so-classic roles: “Evil Sender” in The Stupids (1996); Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994); “Dr. Catheter” (!) in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990); Too Hot to Handle (aka “Playgirl After Dark”, 1959). No, really.
Did you know? Lee will be reteaming with LOTR castmate Sean Astin and original Wicker Man director Robin Hardy for an “unofficial” Wicker Man non-sequel, The Riding of the Laddie… As of this writing, Yahoo lists the current top-selling Christopher Lee video/DVD as the animated film The Last Unicorn…which, the IMDB reports, is apparently being made into a live-action film starring Lee as the character he voiced in both the English and German animated versions.
Ian McDiarmid (Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious)
Stats: Scottish, 55 ; 24 IMDB credits (he was simultaneously Joint Artistic Director of London's Almeida Theatre from 1990 to 2001)
No, really, he’s played other characters besides Palpatine: Dragonslayer, Restoration; TV films: Crime and Punishment, Rebecca, Great Expectations, Heart of Darkness, Chernobyl: The Final Warning (which as I remember gave me nightmares when it was shown my freshman year in high school)
Did you know?: Both McDiarmid and Christopher Lee were in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow… McDiarmid played the Emperor (whom Lucas originally intended to save for the last and ninth installment of the saga) in Return of the Jedi, but not in The Empire Strikes Back; Clive Revill voiced the character in that film… “Darth Sidious” does not have an actor credit in Episode I, but it’s pretty obvious who plays him. (McDiarmid is, in fact, credited as Sidious in Episode II.)
Frank Oz (Yoda)
Stats: English, 58; 49 acting credits and 13 directing credits at the IMDB
Acting: Innocent Blood, American Werewolf in London, Blues Brothers, Blues Brothers 2000
Voice/puppeteering: Monsters, Inc. (Fungus); Labyrinth (Wise Man), The Dark Crystal (Aughra/Chamberlain), The Muppet Show (Animal/Fozzie Bear/Miss Piggy/Sam the Eagle/The Swedish Chef), Sesame Street (Bert/Grover/Cookie Monster/Harvey), more Muppet movies and specials than you can shake a stick at
Directing: The Score, Bowfinger, In and Out, The Indian in the Cupboard, House Sitter, What About Bob?, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Dark Crystal
Coming soon: Oz and In & Out writer Paul Rudnick will reunite for a remake of The Stepford Wives.
Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker Lars)
Stats: Swedish, 44; 37 IMDB credits
Memorable appearances: Fanny and Alexander, Lumière and Company; Mary, Mother of Jesus (with Christian Bale, TV, 1999)
Did you know? August actually appeared in an episode of Lucas’ Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (“Northern Italy, June 1918”) in 1993… Ironically, her “Mary, Mother of Jesus” starring role marks the second time she played a character who conceived “immaculately” that year (1999) alone—the other character being, of course, Shmi Skywalker. (Yeah, we groaned at the midichlorian thing, too.)
Six Degrees of Star Wars
The Moulin Rouge connection: Everyone knows that Ewan McGregor played Christian in the 2001 version, but did you know there even was an earlier film version? Well, Christopher Lee had an uncredited role as Georges Seurat. More importantly, Attack of the Clones was filmed on the exact same Fox soundstages in Australia as the newer Moulin Rouge.
The Sleepy Hollow Connection: Again, we look to Christopher Lee in his role as the Burgomeister, but Ian McDiarmid also plays Dr. Lancaster as well. But Ray Park (Darth Maul in Episode I) was also the choreographer and Headless Horseman stuntman; the IMDB notes that the Horseman kills one character by slashing him in half--which is exactly the way Darth Maul bites it in Episode I.
The LOTR connection: While it’s idiotic to pit Star Wars and LOTR against each other as competing film franchises, that doesn’t mean they’re not connected:
**No fewer than three LOTR actors appear in AOTC: Christopher Lee (Saruman and Count Dooku); Marton Csokas (Celeborn and Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser); Jay Lag’aia (Uglúk in the upcoming Two Towers and eye-patched head of security Captain Typho). But the plot thickens:
**Ewan McGregor recently took the Cesare role in Neil Jordan’s Borgia after Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn) changed his mind and signed up for another film, Hidalgo
**Back in the day, LOTR actor Sean Astin and Hayden Christensen costarred in Harrison Bergeron
**Bernard Hill (Theoden) and Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) did a TV version of Great Expectations
**In Ralph Bakshi’s ill-fated animated LOTR, Anthony Daniels (C3PO) voiced Legolas
**Joel Edgerton (Owen Lars) will costar with Orlando Bloom (Legolas) in Ned Kelly/The Kelly Gang/Our Sunshine/whatever they feel like calling it this week
**Aforesaid Bloom costarred with McGregor in Black Hawk Down
Coincidence?? Well…yeah, probably.