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Monday, 30 September 2019

EPISODE IX: EMPIRE MAGAZINE COVERS REVEALED...


They'll likely be very little revealed- expectant fanboys-pretending-not-to-be-fanboys professional journalists copy built around a few worthy behind the scenes cast and crew quotes here and there, but at least they'll be some great visual content within the latest issue of the UK's Empire film magazine's preview for The Rise of Skywalker, out 3rd October, 2019, with subscriber's exclusive cover art by Paul Shipper.




THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: A CAPABLE DROID!


Before their journey to Naboo commences, Artoo displays his capabilities to Anakin and Jar Jar in a deleted scene moment from EPISODE I, linked to the droid's having fallen over the ledge of the high in the skies Coruscant landing platform, yet flying back to his colleagues. Though deleted with this film, the idea of Artoo flying would be resurrected successfully for EPISODE II, during a key action sequence.

Off camera, Jake Lloyd is curious about the droid's internal mechanisms.

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: "HE WILL NOT BE TRAINED"


The words neither Anakin or his potential teacher in Qui-Gon ever expected to hear from a seemingly future-hesitant Jedi Council. Qui-Gon remains defiant in training the boy whatever the consequences, despite the shocked reaction from current Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi. Young Anakin's fate will be decided at a later point by the council- for now he will travel with the Jedi duo back to Naboo as they protect the Queen, despite the grave dangers ahead with the potential Sith assassin at large...



"When we rehearsed it (the Jedi Temple scenes), I couldn't look at Ewan, and Ewan couldn't look at me, because we knew we'd just start laughing. But there's something about Yoda. And there was kind of a reverence about all that on set. I went down underneath to see how it was all done. It was quite extraordinary. We didn't make any fun of Yoda."

Liam Neeson - Heat Magazine - 1999

With thanks to Ian Trussler for selected imagery.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

'SOLO': HEADING FOR TATOOINE!


New destinies of adventure and entrepreneurial comradeship await Han and Chewbacca now that they finally have the assured freedom to travel the stars in the re-claimed Millennium Falcon. And Han knows a place where some good money can be made, as Solo: A Star Wars Story concludes, leaving fans wanting more...

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: CHANGING POLITICAL TIDES...


Palpatine's rise to Chancellor nominate and the Queen's steadfast determination to return to Naboo are the key story beats about to be filmed at Leavesden for EPISODE I, as Lucas confers with Natalie Portman and Ian McDiarmid, whilst Hugh Quarshie stays close by his scene position mark.

"George (Lucas) worked with me a lot on my acting, which surprised me because people warned me (that he doesn't actually direct all that much). I don't know where people get that idea.

Although he's a very technical director and he knows that stuff, George has a very widespread talent as a director. He can do everything. He's also really cool about making strong women characters. I don't think he does it consciously. He's the kind of guy who views women as equals and really makes them strong characters in his movies. I was thrilled to get to be the real smart and in-control one, and to kick some butt at the day's end, too."

Natalie Portman - Starlog magazine (1999)

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY- ANAKIN IS TESTED


Qui-Gon Jinn strongly believes that young Anakin Skywalker is "The Chosen One" of ancient Jedi prophecy. Now tested by the venerable Master Yoda and his colleagues on the council, will the nervous boy get the chance to fulfill his destiny in that sacred order protecting the galaxy?

Coruscant sunset image art by ILM.

"I was just totally taken by the whole visual (landscape) of that world (the windows of the Jedi Temple out into the Coruscant skies), You just sit there and watch it and you go, 'Wow, this is a cool place. I wish I could see that or could walk around this city."

Samuel L. Jackson - Starburst magazine - 1999

Saturday, 28 September 2019

ROGUE ONE: BACK IN BACTA!


In his private chamber within a castle on Mustafar, a scarred for life Dark Lord stirs from his immersive Bacta Tank, in this memorable moment, reminding of us of the mental and physical damage still affecting the once Anakin Skywalker, now Darth Vader, from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: A SHOCKING TURN OF EVENTS...


As Palpatine 'persuades' Queen Amidala to initiate a vote of no confidence against Chancellor Valorum, due to his seeming lack of power, influence and apathy in their continuing crisis, amidst the packed and angry stadium of senators, the visibly stunned leader, flanked by aides Mas Amedda (Jerome Blake) and Sei Taria (Kamay Lau), returns to his senate podium seat, soon realising (in an ultimately deleted moment) that his old friend Palpatine has betrayed him.


A decisive moment for evil as the political events of EPISODE I play out.

"George (Lucas) was looking for something visually interesting and dynamic for the senate chamber scene, so we pulled the unused idea of the flying platforms from Tatooine, put them on Coruscant, and refined the designs to make them look big, bowl-shaped enclosures."

Doug Chiang - The Making of EPISODE I book - 1999


THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: SENATE WATCHERS!


Largely unseen bar in extreme longshots, many aliens delegates had close-up and reaction shots filmed for the Republic Senate meeting debating the Naboo Crisis. All of these characters, part of one hundred and forty separate creations - both new or classics revisited (such as Rodians and Twi'leks) - were brought to life by Nick Dudman and his team of fifty-five craftsmen, filmed by a second unit at Leavesden, mostly headed up by Roger Christian. Some unseen creatures would ultimately appear in new environments, like the Tatooine Pod racing sequence, playing spectators, or appear in future films, once again in extreme background shots. The Twi'lek Bib Fortuna (played by Alan Ruscoe) was to have been seen here but was ultimately deleted and replaced with Matthew Wood in the role for a scene opposite Jabba the Hutt on Tatooone, a move handled in EPISODE I's post production phase.









Bib Fortuna (Alan Ruscoe) listens to the drama.

The many practical creatures were built with little pre-production time-literally six months from January 1997 onwards, due to Lucas ironing out what creatures were to be handled via CGI, and what would be more cost-effective built as puppets and masks.

Nick Dudman and colleague supervise the care of an actor in the creature suit.

The greedy Twi-lek senator Orn Free Ta (Jerome Blake) and one of his aides (possibly actress Daisy Donovan) - his scene never made the final cut.

In honour of Steven Spielberg, E.T. and his friends made a special one-off cameo.



One of the most important returning species cameos would be from the Wookiees. Actor/puppeteer John Coppinger would play Yarua, and his character would be filmed/ superimposed three times in one scene to make it look like there was a trio of them in their senate pod. One of the surviving original Chewbacca costumes was loaned from the Lucasfilm archive and given restoration and re-working to serve as the new character. Three all-new Wookiee masks were seemingly rejected.

John Coppinger as Yarua the wookiee.
Specially made Wookiee masks by for the three senators were ultimately unused. 

Though not an alien creature, another important character cut from the movie's senate related scenes would be rising star Alderaan delegate Bail Antilles, as played by Adrian Dunbar, originally inhabiting the role as Bail Organa, Princess Leia's adopted father.


More info here:
https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2013/04/classic-blog-2007-adrian-dunbar.html
https://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/2012/09/deleted-scene-speaker-for-alderaan.html

Friday, 27 September 2019

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: THE FINER POINTS OF DIPLOMACY! DELETED SCENE

Palaptine activates the senate pod to address the galactic representatives in a deleted moment.

Escorted to her pod in the Galactic Senate audience chamber, Queen Amidala watches as her ambassador for Naboo in the kindly but pushy Senator Palpatine prepares to enter the ongoing conversations concerning the blockade of their world. Naboo is the tinder to Galactic War in much the same way that Poland was to our own real-life events during World War II.

Entering their senate pod in an earlier deleted moment.

"In terms of (remembering) the actual sequences (filmed), there's the scene in the Senate that stands out. It was one of the last sequences completed by the digital guys at ILM. Filming it was extraordinary. We had a vast expanse of blue, and the senators, the representatives of the various planets, were in pods that rose and moved in (when it was their turn to speak). There was one pod that we all shared at different time. It certainly rose, but it didn't move (around, although) it revolved. Natalie and I were at the top of this pod, revolving around. She had on this very huge headdress and we were both doing our best to keep ourselves steady while being accurate over our lines. And somebody said, 'Oh, by the way, we're here.'"

"That was amusing, as it was hard to focus on anyone or anything else. There were two angel cams going in the opposite direction of the turning pod. I was trying not to step on Natalie's dress and she was trying to look composed and regal. We knew that this would all be on screen soon enough and we had to make sure there was not even a flicker in our eyes that betrayed the work involved. It had to look real and in the moment. People may say, 'Surrender to technology,' or 'There's nothing for the actor,' but ultimately the camera was on me and Natalie and we had to act. We had to make it believable. You may have all these sets and people, but it's all just to make it possible to believe that this moment between the characters in this setting is actually happening."

Ian McDiarmid - Starlog magazine - 1999




More on the deleted scene likely cut for time (seen in the above two images) - a shame, as Ian McDiarmid is so deliciously evil in such political scenes:

Palpatine: If the Federation moves to defer the motion, Your Majesty, I beg of you to ask for a resolution to end this congressional senate.

Amidala: I wish I had your confidence in this, Senator.


Palpatine: You must force a new election for Supreme Chancellor... I promise you that there are many who will support us... it is our best chance... Your Majesty, our only chance.


Amidala: You truly believe Chancellor Valorum will not bring our motion to a vote?


Palpatine: He is distracted... he is afraid. He will be of no help.


Iain McCaig's striking design for Padme's senate costume, with looming droid camera. 

"The outfits are so beautiful. (Costume Designer) Trisha Biggar did one of the most amazing jobs ever. Concept artist Iain McCaig drew pictures for Trisha and she made them a reality. The costumes are one of the most special parts of the movie. I wasn't the happiest of people having to wear the senate costume with the big hairpiece, however. The outfits were made so that they could be easily taken on and off, because if you have to go to the bathroom at some point during the day, you can't spend five hours for a bathroom break. The hair and make-up usually took about two, two-and-a-half hours, but the costumes took 15 minutes."

Natalie Portman - Starlog magazine - 2000

Posed image used for international magazines promotion.

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: JEDI COLLECTIVE!

Oppo Rancisis (Jerome Blake) - the 'Cousin It' of the Prequels!

Though only seen as merest background glances, firstly in the Temple scenes of EPISODE I then at the finale on Naboo, the other members of the Jedi Council would regardless become extremely popular and well utilized in spin-offs like The Clone Wars animated series, as well as many Expanded Universe related comics/books released over the next twenty years, set during the Prequel time period.

Yaddle, a female established as being from the same race as the equally enigmatic Master Yoda.

Adi Gallia (Gin Clarke)

Yarael Poof.

Even Piell (Michaela Cottrell)

Eeth Koth (Hassani Shapi)

Plo koon (Alan Ruscoe).

Depa Billaba (Dipikia O'Neill Joti).

Seasee Tiin (Khan Bonfils)

Thursday, 26 September 2019

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: INTRODUCING KI-ADI-MUNDI


A wise alien from Cerea, Ki-Adi-Mundi brings a sense of trust and ease with his duties to the Jedi Order, as well as being an exceptional fighting force when required. Another developing character in the Prequel universe, played with distinction by Silas Carson, who'd also play several other roles large and small in EPISODE I.


"For Jedi Master Ki-Adi Mundi I wore prosthetics that were actually stuck to my face. There was the head, the front piece for my face, two cheeks, and then the hair. The material used was a kind of foam latex that was very easy to put on, very easy to wear, and very, very light. It did take a bit longer to apply because everything had to be glued down and repainted tho hide the cracks-about two to three hours. However, I actually found it to be quite pleasant."

Silas Carson - Star Wars Insider magazine - 2005

"Because of the way he looks, less like an alien and more like a human being with a weird double skull, I played Ki-Adi as someone who was very gentle. He's kind of like the uncle you always wanted: he's very human, very warm."

Silas Carson - Star Wars Insider magazine - 2005

With the head application process used throughout the Prequel trilogy filming.

Publicity image of Silas Carson used for promotional purposes.

THE 'PHANTOM' AT TWENTY: INTRODUCING MACE WINDU


With a subtly intense stare and a genuine aura sense of refined power about him, Jedi Master Mace Windu is a Jedi of distinction and truly at one with the nature and energies of the Force, and confident in his role within the Jedi Council and the Republic leaders they serve- second only in leadership responsibility to Master Yoda himself. Who better to play one of the coolest Jedi ever seen in the saga than one of the coolest men ever to reside on planet Earth: Samuel L. Jackson!

Jackson's enthusiasm for the saga has been a constant since the original film's New York opening in 1977. For EPISODE I he would be on the Leavesden set filming his Jedi Temple scenes over four days and working from six script pages of dialogue revealed only prior to shooting. By 1999, George Lucas was clear to tell Jackson that Mace was a developing character, of which there would ultimately be lots of things ahead for him with the remaining prequels.

"I was doing a lot of interviews for some other film and reporters ten toy ask you questions like, 'Is there any director that you haven't worked with that you've got to work with?' I remembered that George Lucas was about to do The Phantom Menace, so I said, I'd really like to work with George Lucas on this new Star Wars film. And I said it often enough and I said it on a London talk show (the Chris Evans hosted T.F.I. Friday). Somebody heard it and told him and I got invited to the Lucasfilm Ranch. When I met George, I told him, 'Look, I'm really serious. I'll do anything. I'm not trying to be the star of your movie. I'll be a stormtrooper. You can cover my face. Whatever, I don't care. As long as I know I'm in the movie, I'm happy.' George said, 'We'll see what we can do.'"

Samuel L. Jackson - Starburst magazine - 1999

Rehearsing a scene with the puppet Yoda.

"When I got to London the first time, I had no clue who I was going to play until they gave me some pages and saw I was going to be Mace Windu. Who? And then I realized he was talking to Yoda. So when I got to the studio the next day, I saw this Jedi costume and I was s ecstatic I ran out of breath. At last I had an idea of who I was, how to carry myself, and I had a way of being. And I had a reason for being."

Samuel L. Jackson - Dressing a Galaxy - Deluxe edition - 2005


"The first day I showed up I put on my robes and I was standing there looking in the mirror going, "Yeah, I'm a Jedi." Then the guy comes in with a Haliburton briefcase, opens it up and there all these lightsabers in there. He goes, "Okay, pick one". I tried a few out and I was like, "Okaaay, this looks like me." It was kind of a chrome handle with this long, soft rubber thing down the side, and on the inside, where you turn it on, it had this very unique-looking switch. It was very me, very Mace."

Samuel L. Jackson - Empire magazine - June 2002