The year 2022 marks twenty years since Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones premiered, and Friday brought a chance to commemorate this notable film during Star Wars Celebration. Ashley Eckstein, founder of Her Universe and voice actor for Ahsoka Tano, was on hand to moderate the panel of cast and crew. Actors Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Temuera Morrison (Jengo Fett), and Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) joined Doug Chiang (concept design supervisor), John Knoll (production VFX supervisor), and Matthew Wood (supervising sound editor) for the discussion.
To begin the event, George Lucas sent fans his well-wishes in a pre-recorded message. He pointed out that this was the first film in the Star Wars saga to be shot digitally. Anthony Daniels reminisced that in addition to portraying fan-favorite protocol droid C-3PO, he was also given the chance to have his face seen on screen as an extra. He received the very last costume available, for Imperial soldier Dannl Faytonni. The problem was that its sleeves were much too short. The costume department’s solution involved extending the sleeves with layers of gold braid, fortuitously turning Daniels’ character into a lieutenant.
Concept design supervisor Doug Chiang noted that Episode I – The Phantom Menace established much of the prequels’ overall world-building, so Attack of the Clones could focus on expanding the design catalog of ships, creatures, and civilizations. In this work, he found it helpful to put the digital tools away in the early stages, returning to traditional analog methods. This process led to the design of armor for Jango Fett and the clone troopers. Chiang wanted to imply the armor’s evolution in the series and gave the clones’ helmets a down-turned mouth. This was intended to show the through-line from Fett to the Republic clone troopers and eventually to the Imperial stormtroopers.
Temuera Morrison and Daniel Logan provided the day’s comic relief, imitating occasions when they had to pretend to fly the Firespray (formerly Slave I) with only a blue screen for reference. Morrison had the crowd in stitches joking that he was enjoying the movie until “that Mace Windu guy” showed up, and then somehow he didn’t get to see the end. He described how he wanted to give Lucas advice on the framing of a shot, because he could see in the monitor that it looked too wide. He held back and assumed that the director knew best what he wanted. Several months later, he received a call to return to the United Kingdom from New Zealand to film a pickup shot. Lo and behold, it was the very scene he had identified originally, and a long trip might have been saved if he had only said something at the time.
Supervising sound editor Matthew Wood had the opportunity to design several notable sound effects for the film. He recalled that it was hard to come up with just the right sound for the seismic charge. He ultimately settled on a complete lack of sound at first, followed by the infamous shock wave effect. This was so unusual that the audio techs thought it was a mistake. Wood had to tell them that no, the audio hadn’t dropped out, and the silence was there on purpose. Another interesting sound effect he created was for the Geonosian race. In this case, he combined the sound of fruit bats fighting with penguin mating calls.
At this point in the program, Eckstein had a special surprise for the audience. Actors Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) joined the panel, entering the stage to thunderous applause. McGregor remembered his time on set, including a humorous incident on Camino. He was performing a scene with Logan where Boba Fett was supposed to answer the door and look suspicious about why Obi-Wan was there. Logan was having a hard time coming up with the necessary reaction, so McGregor told him to pretend Obi-Wan had just passed some especially terrible gas. This worked beautifully, and the shot was captured on the next take.
Attack of the Clones was Hayden Christensen’s introduction to the Star Wars franchise. He recalled that his favorite part was the intense lightsaber training he underwent in preparation for the role. He and McGregor got the chance to bond during this ‘training camp,’ since the intense experience forced the pair to trust each other more quickly than they might have otherwise. Thankfully, the master-apprentice relationship came naturally and McGregor took Christensen under his wing both in real life and on-screen.
The cast and crew ended the event by reflecting on the legacy Attack of the Clones has left in the twenty years since its release. McGregor seemed in awe of the indefinable magic Star Wars has to affect our lives and spark our imaginations. Christensen wished to honor George Lucas directly, as the role of Anakin Skywalker was the greatest honor of his career, and he feels indebted for the opportunity. Daniels mused that Lucas built a sandbox that we can all play in, which was a fitting sentiment to close the discussion (even if some don’t like sand because it’s coarse, rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere).