10 Things You Might Not Know About The Phantom Menace

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In 1999, after a 16-year hiatus, a brand new Star Wars film finally made its way back into theaters across the galaxy in the form of The Phantom Menace. However, it’s safe to say that Episode I was hardly met with the same warm response it predecessors received.

Still, regardless of whether you loved or hated the film, there are quite a bit of behind-the-scenes facts that even the most hardcore Star Wars fans probably aren’t aware of. So, with that in mind, here are 10 things you might not know about The Phantom Menace:

  1. Trailer Hype

    With The Phantom Menace being the first new Star Wars film to hit theaters in nearly two decades, longtime fans of the franchise were understandably excited. So excited, in fact, that some theaters reported nearly three-quarters of audiences paying full price for a movie ticket just to get a glimpse of the Phantom Menace trailer, then promptly leaving the cinema after it was shown. (This, of course, was several years before trailers were readily accessible online.)

  2. Darth DJ

    In 2017, Benicio Del Toro joined the Star Wars franchise as the shady smuggler DJ in The Last Jedi. However, long before that, he was poised to play the Sith Lord Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately, after learning that George Lucas cut most of Maul’s lines in the film, Del Toro left the project.

  3. Darth Minimalist

    Speaking of Darth Maul’s lines, the enigmatic and visually striking antagonist only speaks a total of three lines of dialogue throughout the entire film. Furthermore, he only has a mere six minutes of total screen time, so perhaps Del Toro was justified in his decision to turn down the role after all.

  4. The Phantom Menace Phantom Cut

    According to Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker, a whopping six-hour cut of The Phantom Menace was screened prior to the film’s theatrical release. However, unlike the version that hit theaters, this cut was said to be “mindbogglingly good,” though it hasn’t and likely never will be released to the public.

  5. Lightsaber Love

    Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, was apparently quite a fan of his trusty lightsaber. Not only did he reportedly make lightsaber noises out loud during fight sequences but he could also be heard saying, "Do I want to be in Star Wars?' Fuck yeah!” after shooting a lightsaber duel.

  6. She’s All About That Bass

    George Lucas’ heavy use of special effects in the prequel trilogy didn’t just extend to visuals. In fact, in order to help maintain the illusion that Padmé and Queen Amidala were separate individuals, Natalie Portman’s voice was digitally enhanced and deepened to help further differentiate her two on-screen personas, despite the fact that Keira Knightley was used as a stand-in.

  7. Musical Guests

    Although neither man appeared in the film, both Tupac Shakur and Michael Jackson expressed interest in joining The Phantom Menace. Tupac was rumored to be up for the part of Mace Windu, but his 1996 murder prevented him from ever meeting with Lucasfilm. As for Michael, he had campaigned to play the part of Jar Jar Binks, but Lucas felt that the music icon’s star power would “compromise” the film. Ultimately, Ahmed Best was cast in the role.

  8. Maul’s Lightsaber

    Part of what made Darth Maul so intriguing in the lead up to The Phantom Menace was the fact that he wielded a double-bladed lightsaber, which had never been seen in a Star Wars film – only in comics. However, when the weapon was being adapted for the big screen, actor Ray Park noted that the hilt looked far too short for his character to be able to maneuver the lightsaber without injuring himself. As a result, the prop makers replaced it with the long-hilted version that’s since become part of Star Wars canon.

  9. Say My Name

    Although Qui-Gon Jinn’s name appears in the opening crawl, it isn’t spoken out loud until just under 40 minutes into the film. Ironically, the first time we actually hear the name “Qui-Gon Jinn” is when he introduces himself to Anakin’s mother Shmi, whose name isn’t given in dialogue until Attack of the Clones.

  10. Obi-Wan Ke… Wolverine?

    Casting a younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi wasn’t something George Lucas took lightly. In fact, Ewan McGregor was one of fifty actors whose name was on the shortlist, which also included such stars as Tim Roth, Harry Connick, Jr. and even Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman.