Star WarsSTAR WARS: Prequels & Sequels
christensen as anakin in episode 3 All things Lucasfilm...
The original Star Wars trilogy is episodes IV, V and VI of a nine-part series, which creator George Lucas calls The Journal of the Whills, apparently a reference to those pesky Midichlorians. Lucas took his time making the first two trilogies - working for three years on each film. As Samuel L Jackson says, "Filming Star Wars is weird s**t." So now that Lucas has sold the franchise to Disney, things are picking up speed. Episodes VII, VIII and IX will be released at two-year intervals, with stand-alone (or "Anthology") Star Wars movies in the years between.

A TRILOGY OF TRILOGIES. From the very start, Lucas claimed that episodes IV, V and VI were the central part in a grand epic. But he continually changed his story. It took him 15 years to get down to making I, II and III, amid furious claims that Episode III "completes the saga as originally written". We knew better. And now he has passed the torch to JJ Abrams for Episode VII. Rian Johnson is directing Episode VIII, and Colin Trevorrow is directing Episode IX.

ANTHOLOGY FILMS. Disney has announced that it will make "A Star Wars Story" every year. in between the Episodes. The first is Rogue One, which stars Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Alan Tudyk and Donnie Yen (plus rumours that Ewan McGregor will make an appearance as Obi Wan). It's set between episodes III and IV, following the rebels who steal the plans of the Empire's Death Star. Gareth Edwards is directing this one. The second anthology film will be a Han Solo origin story, written and directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord

  • Rogue One due to open 16 December 2016
  • Han Solo due to open 28 May 2018
CONSTANT TINKERING. Beyond the "Special Edition" digital overhaul, Lucas has been steadily altering the first six films to make one cohesive narrative for a "definitive" version — moving bits of the music around, dropping characters in here and there, etc. He's also filling in gaps between the films using TV series and videogames, plus the anthology films. Disney may own it now, but Lucas and producer Kathleen Kennedy keep everything in line with the overall vision.

back to the topT H E     C A S T . . .

Anthony Daniels: C-3PO
Kenny Baker: R2-D2
Frank Oz: Yoda
Ian McDiarmid: Palpatine
Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi
    Alec Guiness: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Natalie Portman: Padme Amidala
Samuel L Jackson: Mace Windu
Liam Neeson: Qui-Gon Jinn
Pernilla August: Shmi Skywalker
Jake Lloyd: Anakin Skywalker
    Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker
    James Earl Jones: Darth Vader (voice)
    David Prowse: Darth Vader
    Sebastian Shaw: Anakin Skywalker
Ray Park: Darth Maul
Terence Stamp: Valorum
Brian Blessed: Boss Nass
Christopher Lee: Count Dooku
Jimmy Smits: Bail Organa
Joel Edgerton: Owen Lars
Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca
Harrison Ford: Han Solo
Mark Hamill: Luke Skywalker
Carrie Fisher: Leia Organa
Peter Cushing: Moff Tarkin
Denis Lawson: Wedge
Billy Dee Williams: Lando Calrissian
Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett
Warwick Davis: Wicket / etc
Daisy Ridley: Rey
John Boyega: Finn
Adam Driver: Kylo Ren
Oscar Isaac: Poe Dameron
Lupita Nyong'o: Maz Kanata
Domhnall Gleeson: General Hux
Gwendoline Christie: Captain Phasma
Andy Serkis: Supreme Leader Snoke
CAMEOS • Episode I: Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Lindsay Duncan, Sofia Coppola, Ralph Brown, Celia Imrie, Greg Proops, Scott Capurro
• Episode II: Rose Byrne, Jack Thompson, Ayesha Dharker, Steve John Shepherd • Episode III: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jett Lucas • Episode V: John Ratzenberger, Treat Williams
• Episode VI: Tony Cox, Deep Roy • Episode VII: Max von Sydow, Simon Pegg, Iko Uwais

back to the topP R O D U C T I O N   T R I V I A . . .

lucas on set in 1976 TIME SCALE: Episode I takes place about 30 years before the original Star Wars, when Obi-Wan is 30, Anakin 10, and Amidala 14. Episode II about 10 years later; and Episode III is about two years after Episode II. Roughly 20 years passes between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. And another 30 years passes between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.

CONTINUITY: Lucas' big challenge is to preserve continuity in the series, which means that the character arcs and plot twists will be very different for audiences who experience the films in sequence I to VI for the first time. The surprises for them will be very different than for those of us who watched them in the order they were made — for example, the relationships between Vader, Luke and Leia will be no surprise. But Anakin's fall will. And Obi-Wan now has a completely different story that redefines his actions in IV. Also, Palpatine becomes the connecting point as a seriously epic villain.

LOCATIONS: While Tunisia played Tatooine in episodes I, II and IV, political instability meant that JJ Abrams had to find another stand-in while shooting Episode VII. The desert around Abu Dhabi did the trick. (Death Valley also doubled as Tatooine in IV and VI.) Other locations: Italy, Spain and England became Naboo; Thailand and China appeared as Kashyyyk; Norway played Hoth; Switzerland was Alderaan; and California's Redwood Forest was Endor.

Ewan McGregor's uncle Denis Lawson played Wedge Antilles in all three original films. Wedge is the only X-wing pilot besides Luke to survive the trilogy. After Lawson visited McGregor on the set of Episode I, McGregor said, "He came up and sat with me, and he met George Lucas and he said, 'George, you're still wearing the same shirt.' And he was, apparently!"

dynamic duo Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker are the only cast members who will appear in all nine films as Threepio and Artoo, the droids through whose eyes the entire tale is told. Two other characters appear in six films, but they're played by multiple actors: Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor I-III, Alec Guinness IV-VI) and Anakin (Jake Lloyd I, Hayden Christensen II-III, David Prowse IV-VI, Sebastian Shaw VI, voice of James Earl Jones III-VI). And then there's Palpatine...

Ian McDiarmid played the Emperor at age 100 in Empire and Jedi and stars in the prequels as the younger Palpatine, closer to McDiarmid's actual age (53 when he shot the prequels). "I am 30 years younger in the new version so I'll be more recognisable. Anyway, I think they only cast me because of my long pointed nose. I have played a lot of grotesques because I suppose I look like one." back to the top

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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall