Combustible Celluloid

'Sith' on the Dock of the Bay

Skywalker Ranch Buzzes with Bittersweet Anticipation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

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On the eve of opening day, the feelings of the cast and crew of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith range from elated to sad.

Producer Rick McCallum, 53, is excited for opening day so that he can see the fans' reactions. Beyond that, "I can't wait to make a small, unsuccessful film with no special effects that nobody goes to see."

Writer/director George Lucas, 60, is in a similarly comfortable place. "On the first one, the only thing I could do was to make it a big magic act, where things move so fast and there's so much movement that you won't see the matte lines. It was a painful experience in terms of what I'd wanted to do but couldn't pull off. We had a guy inside a big rubber puppet with a stick moving the head back and forth. But he couldn't walk. Yoda couldn't walk. Most of the aliens couldn't do anything. I felt I'd sort of barely scraped by."

But on Revenge of the Sith, Lucas finally got to do what he wanted to do all along. He says that this new movie encompasses about 60% of the overall story.

Scottish-born Ian McDiarmid, 60, plays Chancellor Palpatine in the first three films, as well as the Emperor in "Return of the Jedi." He's thrilled that the two sides of his character have finally come together for a complex meeting. He also enjoys the unique type of attention the series has brought him.

"I've found in the past, people come up to you and say, 'you're not him, are you?' and I say, 'no I'm not.' And they say, 'sorry to bother you.' So if you're playing deeply black and evil, people are a little tentative about approaching you because they think you might be like that in real life. And of course, I'm much worse," he says with a chuckle.

Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker, admits to having shed tears when the film wrapped.

But, he says, this was the film he has been waiting for. In it, Anakin turns to the Dark Side and dons the Darth Vader costume for the first time. Christensen, 24, says he went through "every emotion that I can imagine. I think I discovered new emotions that they don't have words for yet. What was really cool was watching everyone else look at me. My friends' eyes would light up with excitement and a glimmer of fear. It was a day I'll never forget."

May 4, 2005

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