‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’ returns to the big-screen this week… and now it’s in 3-D! It’s been more than 10 years since the film was originally released and it got us thinking about the cast.
We all know what Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor are up to these days, but what about the less-heralded stars?
[Related feature: The characters that ruined movies - yes, Jar Jar's in there]
Jake Lloyd - Anakin Skywalker
Having debuted in 1996’s ‘Unhook The Stars’, Lloyd’s first major role was in Arnold Schwarzenegger sell-out ‘Jingle All The Way’.
George Lucas then handed the 10-year-old the part of (SPOILER ALERT) young Darth Vader. Sadly for the tyke his character became widely reviled.
After the release of ‘The Phantom Menace’, Lloyd reprised his role as Anakin for the inevitable videogame spin-offs including’ Star Wars: Racer Revenge’ and ‘Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds’, but he wouldn’t be back for any film sequels.
The child-actor went on to appear in hydro-plane drama 'Madison', before retiring from Hollywood aged just 12. Lloyd went back to school and in 2007 graduated from Carmel High School. Last we heard he was studying at Columbia College Chicago as a film and video major and is set to make a return to Hollywood… behind the camera this time.
Peter Serafinowicz – Darth Maul's voice
Some people might not realise that funnyman Pete was the voice of duel lightsaber wielding maniac Darth Maul. Serafinowicz was a regular in cult hit comedy ‘Spaced’ alongside Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, then featured in the duo’s follow-up movie ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ as grumpy housemate Pete.
His other notable cinema credits include ‘Run Fatboy Run’ (another Simon Pegg vehicle), 2011’s ‘Killing Bono’ and… erm… ‘Screaming Man’ in ‘Grindhouse’.
Even if you missed his subtly titled TV effort ‘The Peter Serafinowicz Show’, chances are you’ve seen him at some point on the goggle box. He has made appearances in ‘I’m Alan Partridge’, ‘Shooting Stars’, ‘The IT Crowd’, ‘Smack The Pony’, ‘Black Books, ‘Little Britain’ and as ‘Darth Chef’ in an episode of ‘South Park’.
His next role is as the voice of Paul McCartney is the upcoming ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Ray Park – Darth Maul's body
Stuntman-turned-actor Ray Park kicked off his film career as a double for Raptor #3 and Tarkatan #2 in the horrendous ‘Mortal Kombat: Annihilation’.
Not a great start, but then he got a job playing the coolest character in the prequel trilogy.
Since his ‘Star Wars’ days, Park has had a pretty successful career. He followed up ‘Menace’ by playing Toad in the first ‘X-Men’ movie and Snake Eyes in ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra’ - a role he’ll reprise in the sequel. He also showed up in ‘Heroes’.
Next up for Park is the suitably titled movie ‘Future Fighters’, due out 2014.
Frank Oz – Yoda
One of the most prolific voice artists of all times, Oz has been in more than a hundred films throughout his career. Before he took on the role of Yoda in ‘Star Wars’ (the first trilogy), he was Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Animal in ‘The Muppet Show’.
He also continued lending his vocal talents to ‘Sesame Street’ and various ‘Muppet’ flicks right up until 2008, but he’s not involved in the new film.
Many forget that Oz has also had a successful career behind the camera. He directed Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando in ‘The Score’ and Nicole Kidman in ‘The Stepford Wives’.
Ahmed Best – Jar Jar Binks
‘The Phantom Menace’ was Best’s big break, having previously only popped up as an extra in ‘Lean On Me’. Playing Jar Jar Binks in all three of the prequels led to a surprisingly lengthy career for Best given how much people hated the alien.
Admittedly, much of this work was ‘Star Wars’ spin-offs - he lent his voice to video games and cartoons – but he eventually made his way back in front of the camera for forgotten flicks ‘Open Window’ and ‘Mother and Child’. He’s also done a bunch of TV work including ‘Cougar Town’ and an episode of ‘Law & Order: Los Angeles’.
Ian McDiarmid – Senator Palpatine
Having starred in the original ‘Star Wars’ movies, McDiarmid was back in the prequels as a younger-looking version of his character.
In between the ‘Star Wars’ films, classically trained McDiarmid showed up in ‘Sleepy Hollow’ alongside Johnny Depp, as a professor in ‘Spooks’ and the late Dennis Thatcher in TV movie 'Margaret'.
In his own words he’s mainly a theatre actor and he’s directed several plays.
Versatile McDiarmid also lent his creepy voice to radio, playing Satan in John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ on Radio 4.
Sounds like perfect casting to us.