You would have thought that being in one of the most popular and iconic franchises ever would be catnip to any actor – after all, who hasn’t dreamed of picking up a lightsaber and taking on the Empire? But for some of the stars who appeared in the franchise, it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
By the time Episode IV was released, Sir Alec was 63 and an Oscar-winner for 1957’s The Bridge On The River Kwai. In other words, this weird space opera directed by some Yank upstart wasn’t exactly the kind of thing he was used to.
During filming, he wrote to his friend about Paul [sic] Lucas and how “rubbish” the dialogue was, “none of which makes my character clear or even bearable”. Later on, he hated being recognised for playing Kenobi and is known to have thrown away all fan mail before opening it.
While he obviously enjoyed some the filming – he liked Kenny Baker and Harrison Ford and even helped the latter find a flat to stay in while shooting in England – it was mainly about the money.
And what a deal he struck. Rather than take a large upfront fee, he negotiated a contract worth two-and-a-quarter per cent of the profits. By the time he died in 2000, it’s estimated he’d earned £56 million from the franchise.
The British icon played the leader of the Galactic Senate in The Phantom Menace, but despite being excited to work with Natalie Portman, he told Empire magazine that he found the experience “boring”.
After criticising Lucas as a poor director of actors and revealing they didn’t get on, he admitted that he found the young actress “absolutely enchanting”.
Nevertheless, having reluctantly travelled back to England from Australia, when it came time to do their scene together it wasn’t quite what he expected. “On the day I’m supposed to do my scene with her, for which I’d travelled halfway around the world, I said, ‘Where’s Natalie?’ And George says, 'That’s Natalie,’ and points to a bit of paper on the wall. It was just boring.”
His mood wasn’t lightened by receiving his gift for appearing in the movie from Lucas. He got a Phantom Menace stencil set.
With the now-29-year-old recently arrested following a high-speed police chase, it’s clear that despite scooping the role of a young Anakin Skywalker, his life isn’t exactly going to plan.
So it’s not surprising that he told Blackbook magazine in 2012 that the film had made his life a “living hell”.
“Other children were really mean to me,” he said, vowing he would never act again. “They would make the sound of the lightsaber every time they saw me. It was totally mad.”
His most recent photo is a mugshot, which can only exarcebate his feeling that he “learned to hate it when the cameras are pointed at me.”
At the time, the Scottish actor seemed like a good choice to play a young Ben Kenobi and he watched lots of Alec Guinness movies to try and emulate the star who played him in the original trilogy.
But clearly, Ewan didn’t have that much fun making the films, recently criticising people who ask him to sign Obi-Wan memorabilia, as well as admitting that he had only seen The Phantom Menace once at the premiere.
Still, he said he didn’t mind the criticism of the prequels. “I’ve heard it to my face,” he told Details magazine in 2014.
The Shaun of the Dead actor was hired to voice Darth Maul, the double-lightsabered villain in The Phantom Menace. Having originally a recorded more lines than the three that ended up in the film, he has revealed his only direction from George Lucas was, “Just make him sound evil.”
After watching the trailer and being excited for the finished product, he was disappointed to find himself not invited to the New York premiere. Eventually he wangled a ticket – which he had to pay for himself, on top of his travel.
As well as finding it “really boring”, Serafinowicz has also said he felt uncomfortable about the racial tone of the movie, as well as finding Jar Jar Binks unfunny.
Admitting it was “a huge toy advert”, the cherry on top was the fact he only got paid a meagre salary to do the job in the first place.
Known of course as the physical embodiment of Darth Vader (though he was doubled by swordmaster Bob Anderson for most of the fight scenes), Prowse has been embroiled in a feud with George Lucas since appearing – accidentally he says – in critical 2010 documentary The People Vs. George Lucas.
He’s also disliked by the Lucasfilm because he gave away the biggest Empire Strikes Back spoiler (something about someone being so-and-so’s father) in a 1978 newspaper interview, resulting in him eventually being banned from official Star Wars conventions in 2010.
But Prowse has always had a love/hate relationship with the movies.
“The thing that hurt was it was all done without telling me,” he told Yahoo Movies about being replaced by James Earl Jones as the voice of Vader. “It was all done in a very underhand way. I didn’t like it one little bit.”
He was also angry about being usurped by actor Sebastian Shaw when the Sith Lord’s mask finally came off. When the Daily Mail wrote a story revealing Shaw’s appearance and Vader’s death, Lucas and director Richard Marquand blamed Prowse and shunned him from that point on.
When Han Solo made a triumphant return in The Force Awakens, it’s hard to imagine how negative the 75-year-old has been over the years about the movies that first made his name.
He balked at answering interview questions about Star Wars for decades and wanted to be killed off in Return Of The Jedi, though now he’s probably glad George Lucas didn’t agree.
Famously, the actor said of the first script, “You can write this s***, but you sure as hell can’t say it,” while during a 2010 interview, he referred to his character as Ham Yoyo. During another appearance to promote Return Of The Jedi, he admitted, “Three is enough for me. I was glad to see that costume for the last time.”
A reported $20m payday lured him back into that costume one last time in The Force Awakens.