Celebs Share Phantom Menace Memories
Words: Bonnie Burton
To celebrate the 3D release of Jar Jar, Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, Qui-Gon Jinn and little Anakin Skywalker hitting the big screen in glorious 3D, here are some of our favorite quotes from celebrities and bands interviewed in our past Star Wars Rocks section (no longer available on StarWars.com) who shared their favorite memories of The Phantom Menace.
Kyle Newman — Fanboys director: I remember lining up at the Union Square theater in New York City over a day and a half in advance. I was mesmerized by the already massive turnout, and thought, “Is this going to be the last movie to ever have a line like this?” In many ways it was. We didn’t need to line up, we wanted to! I had reserved my tickets online two weeks before. My seat at the midnight screening was secure, but I neededto be in that line because the movie is only part of the Star Warsexperience!
After sixteen years without a film, I not only wanted a piece of that magic again — I wanted to celebrate the past too; to stand amongst anxious fellow fans and wonder and laugh and debate about what we were about to see; and discuss how it would change the face of what we knew and loved forever. It was exciting and nerve-racking. I was actually nervous! The hours leading up to the screening were electric. As soon as the usher dropped that velvet rope, the race for the perfect seat was on. But by that point it didn’t matter where I was sitting. I think I saw The Phantom Menace nine more times that week! And I waited in line every time. That sense of community and camaraderie and nostalgia are what makes Star Wars so very special!
Seth Green — Robot Chicken co-creator, actor: Impossibly, I got to go to Skywalker Ranch, and see The Phantom Menace for the first time in the Stag Theater with George just 10 rows behind me. There was so much excitement around the movie, and being there was really overwhelming. Such a great day.
Matthew Senreich — Robot Chicken co-creator: I remember standing outside the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City for a super-late night showing. It was a long, long wait. I interacted with way too many people who dressed in costume. It was quite fascinating actually.
Bill Hader — Saturday Night Live player: When I was going to college in Phoenix, my friends and I took turns waiting in a line at the mall to see The Phantom Menace. One friend would be there at 6 in the morning; then I took over at noon. People kept asking us what we were in line for, and we thought it was so obvious since there was a dude dressed as Yoda behind me. But for a laugh we bought this cheap Backstreet Boys poster and made a sign saying “In line for Backstreet Boys” and told all these kids we were so excited to see them play.
Weird Al Yankovic — comedian/singer: I actually wrote “The Saga Begins” before I ever saw the movie [The Phantom Menace]. I wanted to get the parody out absolutely as soon as possible after the movie premiered in theaters, so I scanned the Internet for leaks and rumors, pieced together the plot as best as I could, and then wrote and recorded the song based on that. I actually did wait until I was able to go to the charity screening of The Phantom Menace before I actually mastered the album — just in case all those Internet leaks were completely bogus. I certainly expected the song to do well, just based on the fact that it was based on Episode I, which I think was the most heavily-anticipated film of my lifetime.
Nick Verreos — Project Runway designer: In The Phantom Menace, Queen Amidala was giving us intergalactic couture. She was a Dior fashion show by John Galliano all wrapped up into one person — a mini diva! When I first saw those Queen Amidala costumes in Voguemagazine, I remembered sketching more voluminous gowns with heavier fabrics. I fantasized that I would do a runway collection with very theatrical, bigger-than-life ensembles, something that Queen Amidala would wear. I used her as my muse and client.
Blake Lewis — American Idol singer: The Podrace in The Phantom Menace is great. It was really fun to watch when it first came out during the whole excitement about Star Wars returning. And all the sound design is amazing, and I’m all about glitchy noises.
Duff Goldman — Ace of Cakes chef: My favorite scene from the films is actually in The Phantom Menace when Qui-Gon has been turned down for the parts he needs to repair his ship, and he says to Obi-Wan, “I’m sure a solution will present itself.” And that has become sort of a mantra for me. I say that all the time.
Andrew “Whitey” White — Kaiser Chiefs: When The Phantom Menacecame out, me and my friends got really excited, and it put the coal back on the fire so to speak. I started collecting the Episode I toys which then led me back into the vintage stuff. It’s nice having a complete collection again.
Jeordie White — Marilyn Manson/Nine Inch Nails: The first time I saw Episode I, I loved it, then I hated it, now I like it again. Watching it now, it seems the most like a Star Wars movie to me. Of course, there’s a lot of Jar Jar Binks, but there’s a sense of nostalgia to it now so it’s like the otherStar Wars movies. Something about it seems classic to me.
Milo Ventimiglia– Heroes actor: I was coming up on a 22-hour day and the only showing was at 3 a.m. opening night. Who cared that I had something to do at 6 a.m., it was Star Wars!
Mark Hamilton — Ash: I don’t think I’d ever been nervous about going into a cinema before, but after more than 15 years of rumors, the confirmation and then the wait, anticipation for this next installment of Star Wars was beyond excruciating. For me the first viewing of The Phantom Menace was more of a madness-inducing head trip than an enjoyable experience. I’d just got into Los Angeles from Europe and was very jet-lagged but went with some band-mates straight to the Chinese Theatre to watch it. I can honestly say I was in a state of shock after watching it. There was just too much information for my finite brain to process as I was trying to absorb every miniscule detail.
Being obsessed with the Original Trilogy, I was happy the wait was over and I had something to properly digest over time. Just being back in theStar Wars universe was all I needed, the familiar locations, tech, sounds, droids and aliens made it all real again, and despite the vocal critics and Jar Jar haters, I still loved it. After many, many viewings I still see it’s a good introduction to the Star Wars saga and the more physical duel between Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Maul using Force pushes was classic.
It was also a dream come true [playing The Phantom Menace wrap party]. Ewan inviting us to perform and then playing on the set of the new Star Wars movie was something I could not comprehend. They built us a stage in the Theed Hangar and we got to play in front of all the cast and crew. When we played “Cantina Band” we got a massive cheer from everyone including George Lucas, Peter Mayhew and Liam Neeson.
Adam Savage — MythBusters: I arrived at ILM during the final push to finish Episode I, and it was like going to heaven — a shop full of some of the best people I’ve ever had the honor to work with.
Simon Pegg — Spaced, Star Trek: The second season of the show [Spaced] came out just after The Phantom Menace, a film which, I’m sorry to say, I found immensely disappointing. Needless to say, [my character] Tim felt the same way and in the opening episode “Time” burns his Star Wars stuff on a funeral pyre. The scene recreates exactly the moment when Luke burns the body of his father at the end of Return of the Jedi. I think it reflected the feelings of many fans. For the first time ever, there was a division in a group of people that had always felt very united. Fortunately, I had an outlet for my displeasure. In one scene Tim screams at a little boy for wanting to buy a Jar Jar Binks doll. It summed up the frustration of the older fans whose expectations were so high and the innocence of the small children for whom it was a colorful and exciting film.
Brian Harnois — Ghost Hunters International: I remember it being 7 o’clock in the morning about a month before the movie was going to be released. It was advanced ticket sale day. I went up by myself to my favorite movie theater figuring I would be the only one in line that early. Well, I was so wrong. As I pulled up there were already about 15 people in line and we still had about 8 hours until 3:30 pm when tickets would go on sale. The funny thing was that one of my best friends while I was in high school, Eric Cadorette, was standing right in front of me in line. The day was amazing. Doing Star Wars trivia, listening to the soundtrack, conversing about the soon to be released trilogy, and just having some great fun with some great people. I finally got my ticket that afternoon, and still have the stub to this day. And to boot, they took a picture of us for the local paper. So all in all it was a great day.
Hal Sparks — actor/comedian: I remember sitting through The Phantom Menace secretly hoping the whole time that someone would kill Anakin, just to circumvent the inevitable. Sell the kid to someone else! Anakin is a bad kid because you already know what he’s going to become.
Sam Endicott — The Bravery: I’m a big fan of that theme they play whenever people fight with lightsabers that first appeared during the Darth Maul/Qui-Gon Jinn/Obi-Wan fight in Episode I [“Duel of the Fates”]. I think it’s among Williams’ best work.
Chris Jericho — WWE Wrestler: In Episode I, Darth Maul is so unbelievably cool looking and a really great character. But I think having him die in the first prequel film was such a mistake. He would have been perfect as the Count Dooku role throughout the whole trilogy. He was so much more interesting and cool with the double lightsaber. Also when he said something half-way through the movie — it would have been cooler if he didn’t talk at all.
Milo Ventimiglia — Heroes actor: I never got into the mint-condition action figures collecting side of things. I will admit though that when The Phantom Menace came out, I bought a Darth Maul figure because I just thought he was the coolest. It reminded me of the first time I opened up the package of my Darth Vader figure.
Christopher Guanlao — Silversun Pickups: When The Phantom Menace came out, my band-mate Brian threw a Star Wars party. Not a “let’s watch all the movies back to back” pizza party, but a real hardcoreStar Wars costume party. I went as Lando Calrissian. I had this big afro wig and I wore a blue cape and glued on a mustache. I know the afro wasn’t very PC, but it was all fun and games. There were some really detailed costumes that you wouldn’t really think of. Like who wants to dress up as an Imperial commander?
What are your favorite memories on seeing The Phantom Menace for the first time? And new memories are you making for the 3D release? Let us know in the comments!
As credited to the Star Wars Blog