Saturday 31 August 2019
Adding to the entertainment and relaxation aspects of Lando Calrissian's vision for the Millennium Falcon: a classic dejarik holochess programme, featuring an assortment of creature players that will become very familiar to audiences over time, in this nostalgic moment from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
With one of Tatooine's dangerously unpredictable sandstorms layering Mos Espa, kindly young Anakin takes his new friends back to the slave quarters home he shares with his mother, in another great EPISODE I image filmed on location in Tunisia, at one of the striking ksour structures in Medenine.
Friday 30 August 2019
In a scene ultimately truncated in the completed film, Anakin buys some local fruits from his old friend Jira at her market stall. With Jira's aching bones predicting an upcoming sandstorm, Anakin briefly notices Qui-Gon's hidden 'laser sword" (a reference going back to the earliest scripts of the original Star Wars), knowing both what the device means and represents, and now who the mystery adult stranger really is.
Filmed on location, here is the deleted earlier part of the scene, which established Anakin's friendship with the kindly Jira (played by British actress Margaret Towner):
EXT. MOS ESPA - STREET - FRUIT STAND - DAY
ANAKIN and the GROUP stop at a fruit stand run by a jolly, but very poor, old lady named JIRA.
ANAKIN: How are you feeling today, Jira?
JIRA: The heat's never been kind to me, you know, Anie!
ANAKIN: Guess what? I've found that cooling unit I've been searching for. It's pretty beat up, but I'll have it fixed for you in no time, I promise.
JIRA: You're a fine boy, Annie.
ANAKIN: I'll take four pallies today (to Padme) You'll like these...
ANAKIN reaches in his pocket and comes up with three coins. he drops one. QUI-GON picks it up, revealing for a moment, his lightsaber.
ANAKIN: (Cont'd) Whoops I thought I had more... Make that three I'm not hungry
The wind picks up. SHOP OWNERS are starting to close up their shops as JIRA gives them their pallies.
Thursday 29 August 2019
In the desert surrounding the Naboo Royal Cruiser, Obi-Wan confers by comlink to Qui-Gon Jinn about the Hyperdrive generator, in a scene ultimately re-filmed to an interior shot at Leavesden. Additionally, a building sandstorm and a strange message from Naboo will soon capture Obi-Wan and Captain Panaka's worried attentions.
"I cast him (Ewan McGregor) because he's a really good actor. That's the primary thing. And then I looked for somebody who is physically right for the part and has the personality that is right for the part. I wanted Obi-Wan to have a little mischievous nature, which is what Alec Guinness had, and I wanted him to be strong but also kind of impetuous and impatient with his mentor. And I think Ewan qualifies in all those areas. But the actor has to play it his own way. He's not playing Alec Guinness. He's playing Obi-Wan Kenobi."
George Lucas - Film Review magazine - 1999
|Ewan McGregor enjoys the sun, and a quick ciggie, on location.|
"Some of the dialogue (as Obi-Wan) was absolutely impossible to say. There's not a great deal of soul-searching going on when you're playing this kind of character. It's fighting and a kind of Jedi frown, which I mastered quite well using my eyebrows."
Ewan McGregor - Radio Times magazine - 1999
"It was his voice that was essential to get right. I didn't want to imitate him (Sir Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan) - it has more to do with the shape of his phrasings and his tone. I still don't know if it's going to work, or if I'll just look like an arsehole."
Ewan McGregor - Premiere magazine - May 1999
|Background footage featuring Naboo technicians that didn't make the final cut.|
|News of a message from home reaches Obi-Wan and Panaka.|
|Time for some fun with George Lucas.|
"George says he doesn't know how to talk to actors, which is being a bit hard on himself. He directs more in pitch: "We need more of this; that was a bit better; let's do better now."
Ewan McGregor - Premiere magazine - May 1999
Wednesday 28 August 2019
About to be turned into 'orange goo' by the thoroughly nasty alien dug Sebulba, poor Jar Jar is thankfully rescued via the timely arrival of Anakin Skywalker, brave enough to challenge the top pod racing pilot's anger and ego, in this memorable moment from EPISODE I. A special shout out to Scottish actor Lewis MacLeod for his voicing of Sebulba.
MacLeod talks EPISODE I:
"That (Sebulba's distinctive walking style) came from the lead animator, Miguel Fuertez. He had seen a 1932 movie called Freaks. In that movie there's a man with no legs, Johnny Eck, and he walks on his hands. He was the true inspiration for Sebulba's walk. Miguel and another animator, Patrick Bueno, pretty much handled everything for Sebulba. I loved how he played with his whiskers, when they were standing behind the pod racer."
Rob Coleman- Star Wars Insider Magazine 2010
|ILM talent Jean Bolte with the Sebulba maquette.|
Tuesday 27 August 2019
He just can't help falling into trouble. Now Jar Jar Binks looks set to be 'pun-ished' again by the angry alien speed racer speed racer Sebulba, whose quality time has been disrupted by the Gungan. Thankfully, human help is on the way.
|The reference model heads of Jar Jar and Sebulba meet on location.|
|Liam Neeson and Ahmed Best enjoy some playtime imaginings between filming.|
Saving Jar Jar from a beating by Sebulba, Anakin Skywalker would have a filmed but deleted dialogue moment with Padme:
|Getting ready to film the deleted moment between Anakin and Padme, with Artoo also present.|
Anakin (to Jar Jar): Fear attracts the fearful. He was trying to overcome his fear by squashing you. Be less afraid.
Padme (to Anakin): And that works for you?
Anakin: To a point. (He smiles)
The 'fear attracts the fearful' line would also be used in the later conceived 'Tone Poem' character commercial for the US TV publicity of EPISODE I, only this time represented by Darth Maul.
|Filming the market scene on location.|
Monday 26 August 2019
When it comes to satisfying his ever-hungry belly, Jar Jar Binks had the pick of the smaller creatures to eat in his life at the Naboo swamps. On the desert world of Tatooine, however, he soon finds that there's no such thing as a free lunch when sneakily hoping for an amphibious sample from one of the Mos Espa dealers!
|Filming the market scene on location in Tunisia - Summer 1997.|
|Lucas confers with a thirsty Ahmed Best.|
The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, beckons...
Sunday 25 August 2019
A day in the life of the Skywalker family - adapting and surviving the diverse environment of the busy Mos Espa, and showing us the slave quarters area in which they will modestly live - is well captured in this great concept/production art by ILM talent Terryl Whitlatch. This was a memorable EPISODE I related image deservedly showcased in the world-touring Star Wars Identities exhibition.
"It (Anakin's birth) was a virgin birth in an ecosystem of symbiotic relationships. It means that, between the Force, which is sort of a life force, and reality, the connectors between these two things are what we call Mitichlorians. They're kind of based on Mitichondria, which are a completely different species, a different animal, that is inside every single cell and allow it to live, allow it to reproduce, allow life to exist. They also, in their own way, communicate with the Force itself. The more you have, the more your cells are able to speak intuitively to the Force itself and use the powers of the Force. Ultimately, I would say the Force itself created Anakin. I don't want to get into specific terms of labelling things to make it one religion or another, but, basically, that's one of the foundation's of the hero's journey."
George Lucas - Vanity Fair magazine - February 2005
Saturday 24 August 2019
The new teaser poster for The Rise of Skywalker debuts (via Disney 23 Expo), with the evil Emperor revealed in all his devilish malevolence. Behind the scenes footage preview incoming this Monday (26th August, 2019):
|The launch poster for The Mandalorian. Image: STARWARS.COM|
As the classic Ian Drury song says, 'Reasons to be cheerful. One. Two. Three!' Great news and footage courtesy of the weekend's Disney D23 Expo 2019 event:
More on The Mandalorian - debuting on US Disney+ channel from November 12th, 2019:
The Clone Wars returning February 2020:
|Image: Lucasfilm via Across the Stars website.|
Welcome back, Ewan McGregor, as Obi-Wan Kenobi in 2020.
With the return of the franchise's most popular evil force in the dreaded Emperor (aka Darth Sidious), Jedi Knight Rey will have her hands full against such a formidable threat of darkness and legacy, in a story for EPISODE IX that will resolve around teamwork and friendship if she and the Rebellion are to win the biggest challenge to good the Star Wars sequel era galaxy could ever face.
The themes of friendship and teamwork are an important, universal strength in education and fun personal growth within our own real world too, especially for the young- both of these are highlighted effectively and most charmingly in the latest work from acclaimed children's author and illustrator Jeffrey Brown, fresh from the international success of his Darth Vader family books for that target readership, and now returned with the first of an all-new series linked to the sequel saga, which concludes with the eagerly-awaited EPISODE IX later in the year, and once more teamed with Chronicle Books: Star Wars - Rey and Pals.
Here's the publishing blurb:
What if Rey hadn't grown up alone on dusty planet Jakku, but instead had a galaxy of friends to play with? New York Times bestselling author of the Darth Vader and Son series Jeffrey Brown returns to the Star Wars galaxy with a collection of brand-new adventures starring young Rey and Kylo, Finn, Poe, Hux and Phasma, Rose and BB-8 - all under the watch of Luke, General Leia, Han and Chewie. Whether it's Kylo trying to use the Force to cheat at Go Fish, Poe bowling with BB-8, or Rey lifting rocks to play hide and seek, Jeffrey Brown's charmingly hilarious vision will delight Star Wars fans of all ages.
Now available, get Rey and Pals here:
Outdoors within Watto's diverse tech and vessel backlot, Qui-Gon and the flying junk dealer barter over the latter's rare T-49 generator, in a scene presumably filmed at the Mos Espa set in Tunisia, and whose junk verite includes (behind them) one of the starship Discovery's pod vessels from 2001: A Space Odyssey- a fond visual link/ 'easter egg' to one of the most important sci-fi movies of all time, and a classic which had been an inspiration for Lucas in making the original Star Wars back in 1976.
|The 2001 movie's Discovery pod as seen on location in Tunisia.|
Friday 23 August 2019
As Watto goes out back with Qui-Gon Jinn and Artoo to find the hyperdrive generator, Padme discovers more about the scruffy yet highly intelligent, life-experienced young human boy who may be a slave, but is nonetheless still a person: Anakin Skywalker.
A couple of extra lines of dialogue were filmed but cut after Anakin sweetly asks Padme if she's an 'angel" from one of the Moons of Iego.
PADME: I've never heard of angels.
ANAKIN: You must be one...maybe you just don't know it.
|Images from the screen test of Jake Lloyd with Natalie Portman at Skywalker Ranch.|
From a specially controlled worldwide overview of over 7,000 young actors, the search for the actor to play young Anakin Skywalker was whittled down to three American talents (Jake Lloyd, Devon Michael and Michael Angarano) who'd screen test with Natalie Portman as Padme at Skywalker Ranch in early 1997. From this video tape testing, conducted by a table with a selection of junk and electronic props, the cherubic and innocent-looking Jake Lloyd, then best known for his appearance alongside superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Xmas comedy Jingle all the Way, deservedly won the coveted role and captured the hearts of Lucas and the production team.
"I first met Jake (Lloyd) when he was five, and every time I would go to Los Angeles for another casting session I'd bring Jake in again. He had all those elements that I was looking for in the character when we initially met, but he was just physically too young. But as he matured, and as I was getting closer to the date of having to decide on which actors I wanted for specific roles, it just converged. By the time I was ready, he was old enough, and it was perfect."
Robin Gurland - 1999
|Jake Lloyd has fun with Robin Gurland and a Millennium Falcon toy during filming.|
"It was Jake because he was extremely intelligent, intuitive and had the physical look hands down. He also had a way of saying, thinking and doing that was a little off-centre, you never quite expected what you got from him."
Robin Gurland - Empire magazine - August 1999
|Anakin had a further filmed deleted line to Padme: "You are a strange girl to me."|
"Most of the first year of casting was primarily the kid, because we didn't know where we were going to go. Robin (Gurland- Casting Director) went everywhere, she went to France, Germany, England, and all over the States.
We didn't know where the kid was going to be, but we knew we were going to have to look at seven-year olds and track them until they were nine."
Rick McCallum - Empire magazine - August 1999
Robin Gurland on EPISODE I's casting: https://www.starwars.com/video/casting-director
Thursday 22 August 2019
INT - WATTO'S JUNK SHOP - DAY
A disheveled boy, ANAKIN SKYWALKER, runs in from the junk yard. He is about nine years, very dirty and dressed in rags. WATTO raises a hand and ANAKIN flinches.
WATTO (subtitled to English from Hutt speak): What took you so long?
ANAKIN (subtitled to English): I was cleaning the bin like you...
WATTO: Never mind! Watch the store.
Star Wars - Episode One screenplay by George Lucas
|Jake Lloyd and George Lucas go through the scene.|
"I just act like myself. We're both really good at mechanics and pretty good at science. I like to build stuff and so does he. And we both like to talk. It was probably one of the best films I've done."
Jake Lloyd - Empire magazine - August 1999
Wednesday 21 August 2019
|Junk dealer extraordinaire, Watto!|
"No money. No parts. No deal."
The memorable words of the ultimate shady wheeler dealer businessman and flying nuisance egotist Watto, the only alien in town who'll have the T-49 hyperdrive generator that Qui-Gon and his party vitally need for their damaged ship. And accepting Republic credits as payment? Don't bet on it when dealing with Watto, one of the best CGI animated characters of the Prequel saga, given distinctive vocal life by British actor Andrew Secombe, a talent called to work on the film by its then casting director, Robin Gurland, after being made aware of his producing and voicing an animation series for the UK's Channel 4 TV. Secombe would spend three weeks on and off at Leavesden filming the role in mid-1997, with three weeks on location in Tunisia for outdoor scenes that either never made the final cut or were planned for but abandoned.
|Art by Doug Chiang.|
|Two character development art pieces from Iain McCaig circa 1996.|
|By Iain McCaig.|
|Anatomic design reference by Terryl Whitlatch.|
|Close-ups of the ILM reference model.|
When asking for more character information, EPISODE I's Animation Director Rob Coleman was originally told by George Lucas that Watto was a native of Tatooine, though this was later changed in the film, and by the time of The Clone Wars animated series, instead becoming a part of the Toydarian race. For EPISODE I the character was to have worn a hat but this extra piece of animation was abandoned until Watto's cameo return appearance with EPISODE II.
"Watto proved a different challenge because of his design-he's got that huge belly! I remember some people at ILM saying because of his wing ratio he'd never fly. I happen to be watching one of the science and nature channels and there as a documentary on bumble bees and a scientist said, "Actually, the wing to body ratio is quite confusing, because technically they shouldn't be able to fly." I went back in and said, "The bumble bee has wings that are too small, so Watto's got wings that are too small. And by the way, his belly's filled with helium!"
Rob Coleman- Star Wars Insider magazine - 2010
|The clay reference model of Watto comes to life at ILM via Mark Siegel.|
"The general brief was for an Italian sounding second-hand car salesman. Apart from that I was left almost completely alone, except for the odd direction of "faster" or "slower". George (Lucas) is a man of few words."
Andrew Secombe - Star Wars Aficionado Magazine interview (conducted with Ian Trussler) - 2006
|Wattoo calls in his young 'helper' to front of shop duties.|
|On set scene positioning for later ILM CGI reference - Leavesden, 1997.|
|Andrew Secombe on set providing the voice and body reference to Watto, and wearing the character's hat discarded until EPISODE II.|
Tuesday 20 August 2019
Our small band of heroes enter into the unusual and unpredictable world of Tatooine's Mos Espa, a street set specially built on location fifteen miles away from Tozeur, Tunisia (a triumph from Production Designer Gavin Bocquet, his UK team (supervised by Ben Scott), and the sterling efforts of local construction talent), and one that's still around today (thanks to worldwide fan efforts that have helped maintain it). With a myriad of locals dressed and masked as varying background aliens, the exploration scenes would be lens captured in the midst of incredible and physically trying temperatures (reaching on one day up to 132 degrees!), affecting both people and equipment, during two schedule-packed weeks in the Summer of 1997.
"I could have built all of Tunisia on the backlot in England but there is a look, there is a smell, and there is an adventure for us shooting in the desert. And then you have to achieve that quality of light, the extras, the wear and tear of the costumes. And that heat... Even if you don't feel that heat when you see it, it's still a question of being there, of being a part of it. Just the experience of going there is still worth all the effort, both in economic and creative terms."
Rick McCallum - Total Film magazine - August 1999
"None of those sets had tops. We knew what we needed. But if George decided, at the last minute, that he wanted to tilt up more, we'd just slap up bluescreen so ILM could fill in the sets digitally."
Rick McCallum - The Making of EPISODE I book - 1999
|Shooting on a day off, Warwick Davis has another fun cameo as a strange Mos Espa vagabond.|
"It was very hot! Just very hot! A trench was dug around the shooting location in Tunisia. It was several feet deep, and was dug to keep all of the desert creepy crawlies away from our camp. Snake catchers were employed to patrol the area and make safe any locations. The cast had tents as dressing rooms, it reminded me of 'Lawrence of Arabia', the only difference being that Lawrence didn't have air conditioning in his tent!"
Warwick Davis - TheForce.Net online interview - 1999
"As difficult as it was (filming in the heat of the location), Tunisia was the place that brought back the most memories for me. It looks like Tatooine- it must be Star Wars!"
George Lucas - 1997
|A special posed image taken by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair magazine's world-exclusive coverage of EPISODE I in 1999.|
|Jira's fruit stand stall.|
|Out of storage from the Lucasfilm Archive, Luke's Landspeeder from the original Star Wars would be painted green and used for background scenes.|
|The street set from behind.|
"The trick was to have the extras rehearse their scenes without their heads on. When we were ready to shoot the scene, we'd put the heads on and keep the extras under an umbrella, with plenty of water available, until the cameras started rolling. If an extra started to feel uncomfortable, we'd just stop shooting."
Nick Dudman - The Making of EPISODE I book - 1999
|Certain street scenes would be enhanced with digital additions from ILM.|