Early concept drawing of Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace.
(Is it just us, or does that face look a bit familiar????)
Photo: GQ March 1999
Drawing (pre-1999): Iain McCaig
DID YOU KNOW?
When news first broke that director George Lucas was planning prequels to the original Star Wars films, rumors ran rampant that Russell was being considered for a role in the trilogy. There was speculation he'd play the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, but as we all know, Ewan McGregor was eventually cast in the role. Then there was speculation he could play the adult Anakin Skywalker in either Episode II or Episode III as Anakin succumbs to the dark side of the force and emerges as Darth Vader. Hayden Christensen, of course, got that role.
A lot has changed in the years since Phantom Menace. Namely, Russell is now one of the biggest male actors in the world, able to pick and choose his parts and even headline his own movie franchise. Lucas seems to prefer lesser-known actors. So as Episode II: Attack of the Clones opens on May 16, 2002, the chances of Russell becoming part of the most successful and beloved film franchise in history are slim to none. Still, casting for Episode III is a long way off, and Lucas only began writing Episode III in the weeks before the Clones release. Plus, we're still wondering just when and how our favorite character, the handsome scoundrel Han Solo, will show up in this series. If Boba Fett warrants a family history (New Zealander Temuera Morrison plays his dad in Episode II) then why not Han? George Lucas, are you listening?
RUSSELL'S STAR WARS CONNECTIONS:
Early in his film career, Phantom Menace star Liam Neeson was featured in The Bounty, starring Anthony Hopkins (Spotswood, aka The Efficiency Expert) and directed by Peter Weir (Far Side of the World). Neeson became a worldwide star after Schindler's List, the Oscar-winning film directed by Steven Spielberg (Gladiator).
Spielberg and George Lucas are close friends.
In the 1964 film The Fall of the Roman Empire, Sir Alec Guinness (the original Obi-Wan) played Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor to be played by Sir Richard Harris in .
Natalie Portman (Amidala) is in Heat, starring Al Pacino and directed by Michael Mann, both of The Insider.
Terence Stamp (blink and you'll miss him in Phantom) co-starred with Guy Pearce (L.A. Confidential) and Hugo Weaving (Proof) in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."
Is there any former Russell co-star that Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu) has NOT been in a movie with??? He co-starred with L.A. Confidential alumnus Kevin Spacey in both A Time to Kill and The Negotiator; opposite Sharon Stone in Sphere; with Jacqueline McKenzie (Gabe in Romper Stomper) in Deep Blue Sea; with Toni Collette (Spotswood) in Changing Lanes; and even with Sam Neill, who hails from Russell's homeland of New Zealand, in Jurassic Park.
Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in the original Star Wars) co-starred in Drop Dead Fred with Ron Eldard .
Harrison Ford (the one and only Han Solo) starred in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott .
Ewan McGregor (young Obi-Wan Kenobi) co-starred in Velvet Goldmine with Toni Collette (Spotswood). They were also both in Emma.
Another one of Russell's former co-stars, Jack Thompson (Sum Of Us) appears as Cliegg Lars in Attack of the Clones.
Though the two aren't related and have never appeared together in film, there is a resemblance between Russell and Ewan McGregor.
YODA ON RUSSELL:
"Much beer in him I sense."
Clip: (Thanks to Angie)
(Maximus the Jedi, thanks to FB)
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