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Hayden Christensen was the subject of the final shot completed on Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith:, a frantic run across a platform. When Director George Lucas quietly proclaimed, “Cut – that’s a wrap” to the crew, it was the last time cameras would roll on a Star Wars movie. Suitably, it happened on Elstree’s Stage 8, the same stage where Lucas committed the first soundstage shot to film on Star Wars: A New Hope in 1976. “It completed the circle,” Producer Rick McCallum said. “George was really happy about that.”

The Star Wars saga actually began in 1972, when the then-27-year-old Lucas was finishing up American Graffiti and hoping to make a movie that brought together elements of some his favorite influences, from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Buck Rogers and the Flash Gordon serials, to even the James Bond films. Little did he know that after he managed to launch Star Wars in 1977 (now re-titled Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope) that he would devote 30 years to his immensely popular tale.

It is pretty much impossible to pinpoint exactly when production began on Revenge of the Sith. In many ways, it’s a movie that has been in development since the beginning, when Lucas first sketched out his ideas for the saga of the Skywalker family, a story set against a tumultuous war raging in a distant galaxy. “Even though I didn’t start writing the prequels for another 20 years,” Lucas says, “the structure of that story has never changed very much; it has always been one epic story of a father who is redeemed by his children.”

The tone of Revenge will be darker than the previous Star Wars movies, and Lucas hints that “Anakin Skywalker is literally going to go to the underworld, to hell itself.” He says it's going to be a violent movie; and he's accepted a PG-13 rating, which none of the previous films have received.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…. [Can anyone ever forget hearing those words for the first time?]

The character of Anakin Skywalker was introduced in 1999's The Phantom Menace and was played by 9-year-old Jake Lloyd, ) as an innocent boy from the planet Tatooine who becomes involved with the Jedi knights against the forces of evil.. In that film, Yoda refused to train Anakin, considering him to be too old and too impatient to become a Jedi warrior. After a heroic podrace however, the council convinced Yoda to change his mind. However, ultimately, the young Anakin does not complete his training.

Then 21-year-old Hayden Christensen took on the role in 2002’s Episode II - Attack of the Clones. (To read more about this, CLICK HERE) The opening battle sets in motion a series of events that lead up to the moment of truth for Anakin, (who was trained as a Jedi by his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ian McGregor) as the Clone Wars erupted) – whose secret always threatens to catch up with him: He is leading a dual life as a Jedi Knight while covertly married to the beautiful Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman). Preying on Anakin’s fears of losing Padmé, Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) reveals to Anakin another side of the Force, one that is forbidden to him, but one that promises to teach him powers he never imagined possible. The final lightsaber duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan is just one of many showstopping action sequences in Sith. “It’s amazing how much action there is in this movie,” says McGregor. “It’s no-holds-barred.” It is no secret that Revenge of the Sith reveals Anakin’s ultimate destiny-to become the evil Darth Vader.

Episodes IV-VI (the original trilogy that began in '77, (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) follow the adventures of Anakin's children, Luke and Leia (Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher) as they join the rebellion to bring about the fall of Darth Vader and the Empire. Overall, the five Star Wars movies have generated nearly $3.5 billion in global ticket sales. Phantom Menace raked in just under $926 million to lead the group, but 2002's Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones fell to a paltry $648 million.

When the casting for Attack of the Clones began, there were 400 young male actors under consideration for the role of Anakin. Among them were Leonardo Di Caprio, and Ryan Phillippe. Phillippe says he was so close to the role he filmed a screen test with Natalie Portman. "In real life, I'm seven years older than her, which was dubbed too old. At age 29, I was an over the hill Anakin," he told www.suntimes.com at the time.

Although Christensen was a virtual unknown in Hollywood, Lucas had seen him perform on the Fox Family series Higher Ground, a short lived series about a group of troubled teens sent to a rehab high school in the wilderness. Ultimately, after five separate auditions, the choice of Anakin came down to the chemistry between the actor, and his-co-star and filmic love interest Natalie Portman, who plays the idealistic Senator Padme Amedala.

Writer-director George Lucas says Christensen delivers an emotionally intense performance in Sith. “His own Darth Vader quality comes out in this one. Hayden definitely has a dark side, and that’s one of the reasons I cast him. He’s also handsome and charming, which is important, because if Anakin were always just Darth Vader, who in the world would care about him? It’s a difficult transformation to pull off, and Hayden does it wonderfully.”

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 47 - September 0176
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