During filming, Ewan McGregor made lightsaber noises as he dueled. It was noted and corrected during post-production.
According to Star Wars canon, Obi-Wan's hanging braid is a Jedi tradition common to all Padawan Learners. When his Master feels that he has reached proper maturity, he cuts the braid with his lightsaber, signifying that the student is now a full Jedi Knight.
After the film's end credits finish rolling, the sound effect of Darth Vader's breathing can be heard.
Natalie Portman's voice was digitally enhanced to distinguish between Padmé and Queen Amidala.
During the first week of the first trailer's release, many theaters reported up to 75 percent of their audiences paying full price for a movie, then walking out after the Star Wars: Episode I trailer was shown.
Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) missed the premiere party in New York City, because she had to go home to study for her high school final exams.
Sets were built only as high as the tops of the actors' heads and computer graphics filled in the rest. Liam Neeson was so tall, that he cost the set crew an extra 150,000 dollars in construction.
20th Century Fox released the first trailer, with strict instructions that it not be shown before a certain date. When a Canadian movie theater accidentally showed it a day early, they lost the rights to show the movie.
When fully dressed, and in make-up, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley resembled each other so much, that even Knightley's mother Sharman Macdonald, who visited the set, had trouble identifying her own daughter.
Keira Knightley's parents tried to convince her not to audition, but the 12 year-old actress still sought a role, given she was a Star Wars fan.
In the Galactic Senate scene, when Queen Amidala is asking for a vote of no confidence, and the whole Senate are on their feet shouting, in the lower left corner you can see that there are E.T. species (as in movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)). George Lucas included them, as a tribute to his long-time friend, Steven Spielberg, as well as showing them existing in the same universe.
Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is a redecorated Gillette Sensor Excel Razor for Women.
The word lightsaber is never used in the film and is ultimately the only Star Wars film that does not have a single character to speak the word. When Anakin talks to Qui-Gon he calls it a "laser sword."
Jake Lloyd has said that he retired from acting because of the trauma he experienced after playing Anakin Skywalker. According to Lloyd, other children constantly teased him about the role. For example they would make lightsaber sounds whenever he walked by. Lloyd also said that the situation was made worse because, in his opinion, the film did not meet the fans' expectations. Despite this, Lloyd has reprised the role of Anakin in several video games and has appeared at Star Wars conventions/events.
Ian McDiarmid was surprised, when George Lucas approached him sixteen years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), to reprise the role of Palpatine, because he had assumed that a younger actor would play the part in the prequels.
The sound of the underwater monsters growling near the beginning of the film was made by the main sound technician's three-year-old daughter. The sound of her crying was recorded, and the frequency lowered to obtain the sound heard in the film.
Ewan McGregor studied many of Alec Guinness' films, including Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), to ensure accuracy in everything from his accent to pacing of his words.
Benicio Del Toro was originally set to play Darth Maul. Del Toro left the film after George Lucas took most of Maul's lines out of the film. He would finally join the Star Wars franchise 18 years later when he played DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017).
According to Jake Lloyd, there was a six-hour cut of the film that was screened for several people before the film was released, with those who saw it proclaiming it to be "mindbogglingly good". Like the later "Lost Cut" of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), this cut has never been released publicly.
Anakin's theme is a musical variation on the Imperial March (a.k.a. Darth Vader's Theme) from Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
At the time of the film's release, the producers ran a disinformation campaign to suggest that Natalie Portman played both Padmé and The Queen at all times. In fact, they are not always the same person. For many sections of the film, notably those where The Queen is wearing the black outfit with the huge feather headdress, she is actually a decoy, played by Keira Knightley. The real queen, Portman, is actually disguised as a handmaiden. Various conflicting public statements make it extremely difficult to figure out who is who. Whole websites are devoted to figuring out which actress is playing which handmaiden or The Queen at any given point.
Liam Neeson convinced George Lucas to keep a scene where Qui-Gon Jinn puts his hand on Shmi Skywalker's shoulder. Lucas felt this might be out of character for the monk-like Jedi, but Neeson thought there should be an emotional connection between the characters. In an interview with Premiere magazine, Neeson defended his action, saying, "It may be 'Star Wars', but we've got to have something in there for the adults."
EASTER EGG: The starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) can be seen briefly amongst the traffic flying around Coruscant.
Liam Neeson was so eager to be in the film that he signed on without having read the script.
The blue haired slave girl seen beside Jabba the Hutt before the pod race is wearing the same slave costume worn by Princess Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
George Lucas made a similar deal as he did in the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Lucas and 20th Century Fox agreed that he would forego his salary as a director, provided he owns the entire negative of the final cut of the film, as well as ancillary rights of all toys and commercial tie-ins.
To create the sounds of the spectators during the pod race scene, Sound Designer Ben Burtt took a recorder to a San Francisco 49ers game, and recorded the crowd's reactions.
Tupac Shakur (a Star Wars fan since childhood) expressed interest in reading for a role, even lobbying mutual friends of his and George Lucas' to get them in touch with each other to set up a meeting so he could read but his tragic murder in September 1996 prevented any such meeting from taking place. It has been speculated that he was up for the part of Mace Windu, but the character name was not publicly known before filming started, and it was not specifically written for an African-American until Samuel L. Jackson was cast. In early concept art, Windu was drawn as an alien and also with the likeness of Concept Designer Doug Chiang.
In 1997, a fierce sandstorm destroyed several of the Tatooine sets in the desert outside Tozeur, Tunisia. Filming resumed two days later. George Lucas considered this a good omen, as the very same thing had happened during filming of the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
A few USC students took the Japanese LaserDisc and made their own edit of the movie. Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT cut out all scenes featuring Jar-Jar Binks, but does remove many of his sillier and more distracting moments, and makes many other minor tweaks. It became known as the "Phantom Edit". George Lucas requested to see a copy, and then Lucasfilm issued a press release reiterating that it is illegal to copy and/or edit a Lucasfilm property.
EASTER EGG: In the "Options" menu, key in "11" enter, "3" enter, "8" enter, and you will see bloopers mostly of R2-D2 falling during various takes of the film.
The script explains that the reason Watto is always flying, is that he is crippled. Look closely, and you can see that one foot is longer than the other. He also talks out of the side of his mouth, because the broken tusk slurs his words.
Regarding some rumors saying that he "felt like a puppet" while working on the film, Liam Neeson said, "That's simply not true," and that he had "absolutely no misgivings" about being in it, adding that George Lucas was "very good" to work with. "He was clear about what he wanted," said Neeson. This largely parallels Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Guinness was often quoted as saying that he hated the making of the movie, yet both cast and crew members have praised his professionalism and courtesy on set, and he was largely positive of the finished film itself.
Earlier drafts of the script placed more emphasis on the character of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Originally, he was already a fully trained Jedi by the start of the movie, and also the only Jedi negotiator sent to Naboo. In this same draft, the character of Qui-Gon Jinn was not introduced until the characters reached Coruscant, and that character was of the same age of Obi-Wan, not his mentor.
The name used by the Queen while in disguise (and, later, after her term as Queen ends), "Padmé", is the Sanskrit word for "lotus". "Yoda" is also derived from the Sanskrit word for "warrior".
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Frank Oz (Yoda) and Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) are the only actors to reprise their roles from the original "Star Wars" trilogy.
Palpatine's line "There is no civility, there is only politics" is a corruption of part of the Jedi Code which consists of a negative assertion followed by a positive one. For example: "There is no fear, there is only calm. There is no death, there is only the Force."
Scenes of straightforward dialogue may be comprised of up to six layers of computer-composited imagery, as the following example shows. In one scene, Natalie Portman's best take had been take seven while Jake Lloyd's was take one. The two takes were spliced together. However, Lloyd's mouth at the end of the scene is still gaped open, so the same segment from take fifteen (in which his mouth is closed) is patched in. Furthermore, when Portman appears to look down from Lloyd instead of up, those few seconds were run backwards, which unexpectedly caused steam in the background to rise in reverse. The problem was fixed by flipping the steam backwards. All these fixes resulted in a seamless scene. This technique prompted Liam Neeson, upon the film's release, to complain thus, "We are basically puppets. I don't think I can live with the inauthenticity of movies anymore."
Ewan McGregor was cast from a shortlist of fifty actors, all of whom had to be compared to pictures of young Alec Guinness.
According to the Blu-ray commentary, the scene where Padmé and Anakin first talk, is the one that was used to audition potential Anakin actors. The crew also states that Jake Lloyd did not like filming this particular scene.
The core-plot of the movie came from George Lucas' first draft of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), which he wrote in 1975.
Tests were conducted to see if Yoda could be realized digitally, but it was determined that the technology was not up to scratch yet, and a puppet was used. A CGI model of Yoda was nevertheless created, but only used in one long shot, near the end, where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda discuss Anakin's future. Yoda was finally realized as a fully digital character three years later, in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), and for the 2011 Bluray edition of The Phantom Menace, the puppet was fully replaced by a digital Yoda.
Dates in Star Wars are based around the Battle of Yavin (in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)): Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) takes place 32 years BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) is 22 BBY, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) is 19 BBY, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) is 0 BBY, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) is 0 BBY, Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) is 3 years ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) is 4 ABY, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) is 34 ABY, Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) is 34 ABY.
Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, is the nephew of Denis Lawson, who played Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy.
The sound of the hovering battle tanks, used by the battle droids, was created by running an electric razor around a metal salad bowl, and then digitally lowering the pitch.
Vin Diesel, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan, Kurt Russell and Denzel Washington were considered for the role of Qui-Gon Jinn.
The special effects teams creating the podrace studied NASCAR crash footage extensively to assure accuracy in the crashes.
Qui-Gon Jinn identifies the Queen's starship as a Nubian model J-327. "327" was the number of the landing bay where the Millennium Falcon landed on the first Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) as well as the number of the landing platform in Cloud City in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). During the introduction of the pod racers, one of the pods is "327".
While referred to numerous times by other characters, Yoda is only clearly identified at the very end of the film. Mace Windu is never identified at all.
In the original trilogy, lightsaber activations and deactivations happened off-screen most of the time to prevent the "jumps" that would occur when the film was stopped to allow the "activated" lightsaber props to be substituted for the deactivated handles. This no longer poses a problem and every activation/deactivation occurs on-screen in this film.
Natalie Portman worked extensively with a voice coach on what kind of dialect Queen Amidala would have. They settled on a classically imperious kind of tone, the type that Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall would have used in their heyday. Portman's voice was then electronically lowered in post-production to make her sound more queenly.
According to Ahmed Best in a Rolling Stone article, Michael Jackson "campaigned" for the role of Jar Jar Binks, but George Lucas decided against casting him, because his star status would "compromise" the film. At one point, Lucas took Best and Natalie Portman backstage at a concert, and introduced Best to Jackson to gain the singer's approval.
According to the script, the chance cube that Watto rolled with Qui-Gon was fixed to land on red. That's why he was so mad when Qui-Gon tampered with it, to land on blue.
Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber design, was borrowed from the 1996 comic book series "Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War".
Ewan McGregor recalled that his performance in the film consisted of 'walking into rooms and looking up'.
The interiors of the palace on Naboo were shot in an Italian palace, the Reggia Reale (Royal Palace) of Caserta (now used mostly as a museum). However, the palace had candelabras on the wall which had to be removed prior to shooting. One of the curators, there to watch that the crew doesn't make damages, played one of Amidala's counselors.
Richard Armitage appears in this film, and can be seen standing beside Natalie Portman, at the point where the Naboo guards use the ascension guns to climb to the window above.
"Phantom Menace" was the name of a villain in the "Flash Gordon" comics. The same name used by NASA to refer to the fact that so few of their attempts to send a probe to Mars, were successful, to the point that the missions seemed cursed.
On his way to England to be fitted for the suit of Jar Jar Binks, Ahmed Best suffered severe burns when hot tea was spilled into his lap. Best endured great pain while a cast of his body was made, but told no one about his injury, unwilling to take any chance that might jeopardize his role.
The announcer at the Pod Race welcomes people, "...from all the Outer Rim Territories." This is a reference to the galaxy's grouping. The Star Wars galaxy is organized in concentric circles. Starting at the center and moving outward the circles are, The Deep Core, Core, Colonies, Inner Rim, Expansion Region, Mid Rim, Outer Rim, Wild Space, Unknown Regions.
In both of his identities, Darth Sidious/Palpatine makes his first appearance as a hologram. This is in keeping with the original trilogy, when his first appearance was a holographic communication with Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
Ahmed Best, who supplies the voice of Jar Jar Binks, also appears as a Jedi Knight when the newly appointed Chancellor Palpatine arrives on Naboo.
C-3P0 was originally only supposed to appear in scenes set in, and around the slave quarters. During post-production, George Lucas decided to optically add the droid to several outside scenes.
George Lucas reportedly wrote Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) in the same binder of yellow ruled paper, in which he wrote the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), as well as American Graffiti (1973).
George Lucas's very first draft of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) began, "This is the story of Mace Windu, a revered Jedi-bendu of Opuchi who was related to Usby C.J. Thape, a padawan learner of the famed Jedi." Both the character of Mace Windu and the concept of padawan learners make their first appearance in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
In the Senate scene, one of the pods contains creatures that resemble E.T., an obvious tribute to George Lucas' friend, Steven Spielberg. Author James Luceno fleshed out this group of aliens in his Star Wars novel, "Cloak of Deception." They are from the planet Brodo Asogi, and they are represented by Senator Grebleips (Spielberg spelled backwards.)
When Yoda agrees that Anakin will be Obi-Wan's apprentice, a dragon can be seen out the window, flying in the sky.
The first movie directed by George Lucas since the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Jake Lloyd retired from acting in 2001, citing bullying on the part of classmates, and the stress of doing up to sixty interviews a day, as his reasons for doing so. He stated in a 2012 interview that being in the film ruined his childhood and his acting career, and that he destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia out of anger toward the film. Lloyd also struggled with schizophrenia which was finally diagnosed in 2015. However, an interview with a Star Wars fansite has confirmed, that he's mellowed out since then, and contrary to popular belief, he does not hate Star Wars after all the bullying.
Obi-Wan has "a bad feeling about this" quite often. See also Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
When Palpatine lands at Naboo at the end of the film, he's accompanied by Senate Guards dressed in blue. The guards' costumes are similar to those of the red Emperor's guards seen in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), and are, in a way, predecessors to the later red guards.
Kenneth Branagh was originally considered for the part of the younger Obi-Wan Kenobi.
George Lucas asked Lawrence Kasdan to write the script (and possibly for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) as well), but he turned it down, because he thought with Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), Lucas's relationship to the movies had taken one step back, and that he alone should take responsibility, and make exactly the movie he wanted to make.
While Liam Neeson did the majority of his own stunts, he did have three stunt doubles on hand to do everything else. Andrew Lawden doubled for Neeson for part of the Darth Maul duel on Tatooine, while Joss Gower played Qui-Gon for some shots in the main duel near the end. Rob Inch did everything else.
The sound of the "force field" in the lightsaber duel with Darth Maul, began as a recording of the Audio Supervisor's neighbor's ceiling fan.
The two scenes recorded digitally were: Qui-Gon taking Anakin's blood sample and the promotion of Obi-Wan to the level of Jedi Knight.
George Lucas cast Natalie Portman, after seeing her in Léon: The Professional (1994) and Beautiful Girls (1996).
The Neimodians were originally to be computer generated creatures, but to save costs, they were changed into men wearing masks. Animatronic Model Designer John Coppinger quickly recycled animatronic masks from The Fifth Element (1997), to use as the basis for their facial movements.
A re-release of The Phantom Menace in 3-D, was released to theaters in February 2012. In Sweden, it was decided that the movie would also be dubbed into Swedish, despite that no other Star Wars live-action movie had been dubbed into Swedish before. Swedish actress Pernilla August who played Shmi Skywalker, did the voice-over of herself in the dub.
After the first lap of the podrace, Watto and Sebulba speak Finnish saying, "Thank You" and "You're Welcome".
Reportedly, after a lightsaber scene, Ewan McGregor could be overheard muttering, "'Do I want to be in Star Wars?' Fuck yeah!"
Anakin has two model ships on his bed in Tatooine. These are models of early designs considered for the Naboo Starfighters. In the documentaries on the DVD, we see these models being rejected by George Lucas.
EASTER EGG: If you highlight the THX logo, in the Language Selection page on the DVD, and press "11" enter, "3" enter, "8" enter, with the remote, you will access a hidden blooper reel.
George Lucas originally wanted to cast an American actor as Qui-Gon Jinn, but cast Liam Neeson, because he considered that Neeson had great skills and presence. Lucas said Neeson was a "master actor, who the other actors will look up to, who has got the qualities of strength that the character demands".
Two Wookies can be seen in the Galactic Senate meeting. For the first time in 21 years, Star Wars Wookiees were played by someone other than Peter Mayhew.
Of this film's 133 minute running time, only 10 to 15 minutes contain no special effects.
Before the film's production started, fans campaigned on the Internet to retain Kenny Baker as R2-D2; George Lucas replied that the actor would remain.
In scenes where Padmé and Queen Amidala appear together, Natalie Portman is Padmé, while Keira Knightley is Sabé, one of the handmaidens disguised as the Queen.
The dress Amidala is wearing, when she addresses the Senate, is modeled after a Mongolian garment worn by nobility.
The Jedi Council set was too large to be saved, only the chairs were put in storage. For Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), backgrounds plates from Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) were reused.
Andy Secombe based his vocal performance of Watto on Alec Guinness' performance as Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948). So essentially, Anakin is passed from one Alec Guinness impersonator to another through the course of the film.
George Lucas has said that there are a couple of shots in the movie that were "filmed" on digital video instead of 35 mm film. He also said that he dares anyone to try and figure out which shots these were.
Frank Darabont was originally slated to be writing the script at one point, as was Carrie Fisher, who was said to be helping out as a script doctor.
The Battle Droids were originally supposed to be as white as the Stormtroopers from the original trilogy. During pre-production, George Lucas decided to change them to beige.
Qui-Gon Jinn's name is not given in dialogue until 38 minutes into the film when he introduces himself to Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August), whose first name is not actually mentioned until Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
Qui-Gon's description of Mos Espa is almost the same, if not verbatim, as Obi-Wan's description of Mos Eisley in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Roman Coppola (Naboo guard) and his sister Sofia Coppola (Handmaiden Saché) made their film debuts in The Godfather (1972), on which George Lucas was an Assistant Editor.
The words chanted during the "Duel of the Fates" are from Robert Graves' poem "The White Goddess". "The White Goddess" is a translation of the original version, "Cad Goddeu" or "The Battle of Achren", an early Celtic work of great antiquity also known as "The Battle of the Trees," which was originally composed by Gwion and is found in the "Book of Taliesin", a Thirteenth Century Welsh manuscript . John Williams had the lines "Under the tongue root a fight most dread, and another raging, behind, in the head" translated into Sanskrit. The translation sung in the movie is as follows: "Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Rahtamah Yoodhah Korah Korah Syahdho Rahtahmah Daanyah Korah Keelah Daanyah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Korah Matah Korah Rahtahmah Korah Daanyah Korah Rahtahmah Nyohah Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Syadho Keelah Korah Rahtahmah Korah".
In earlier drafts, the name of the planet where Queen Amidala comes from was called Utapau. This name was also used and abandoned in the early-1970s drafts of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), and was finally used for the sinkhole planet where Obi-Wan confronts General Grievous in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
This is the only Star Wars picture, in which Anthony Daniels does not provide the movements of C-3P0. Instead they were performed by puppeteer Michael Lynch.
Early treatments of the film did not have Qui-Gon Jinn, and simply had Obi-Wan by himself, as a Jedi Knight. Qui-Gon was added as Obi-Wan's Master, to flow with the generational "Passing the Torch" theme found throughout the whole saga.
Colored Q-Tips were photographed on a miniature stadium set in order to provide the background spectators during the pod race sequence.
The lights in Queen Amidala's dramatic red throne-room gown were powered by a car battery that had to be worn under the heavy costume during filming. (Per the "Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen" exhibit at the EMP Museum in Seattle, Jan-Oct 2015)
As Sofia Coppola prepared the script for her directorial debut on The Virgin Suicides (1999), she heard that George Lucas would make a new Star Wars film, and asked him if she could accompany him during filming. Lucas offered Coppola a role in the royal entourage, which she accepted because it "seemed like a good vantage point to watch without getting in the way".
The parade music at the end of the film is melodically related to the Emperor's Theme from Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
The name "Qui-Gon" derives from an ancient Chinese system of alternative medicine, called "Qigong". The "Jinn" part refers to the "Djinn" or genies of Arabian myth.
The Galactic Capitol planet of Coruscant was first mentioned in the first Expanded Universe tie-in novel "Heir To The Empire" by Timothy Zahn, set five years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
As of 2016, this is the only film in the franchise, with no storm troopers, nor any mention of a Death Star.
This was the final Star Wars film to be shot on 35mm film until Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
In the German language version of the film, the collaborating Trade Federation leaders have a French accent, while in the Italian language version they have heavy Russian accents. They also have Russian accents in the Czech version, except for the Viceroy, who speaks fluent Czech for reasons unknown.
A puppeteer dressed in a color matching the background (in a manner similar to the Japanese puppet theater Bunraku), manipulated a skeletal C-3PO figure attached to his front, while Anthony Daniels read his lines off-camera. The puppeteer was erased from the film during post-production.
DIRECTOR_TRADEMARK(George Lucas): : The Droid killed by Jar Jar Binks at the end, has serial number 1138 on his back. (THX 1138 (1971) was Lucas' first film and starred Robert Duvall.)
Twelve years after the film was released, Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) and Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker) both reprised their roles in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Overlords (2011). Neeson would later do so again, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Ghosts of Mortis (2011).
The design of Queen Amidala's starship, in which she escapes Naboo with Qui-Gonn and Obi-Wan, was inspired by the Lockheed Martin SR-71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance jet.
Nine R2-D2 models were created; one was for Kenny Baker, into which to be dropped, seven were built by ILM and featured two wheelchair motors capable of moving 440 pounds, enabling it to run, and be mostly used in stage sets, and the British studio produced a pneumatic R2-D2 that could shift from two to three legs, and was mostly used in Tunisia, because its motor-drive system allowed it to drive over sand.
George Lucas described Sebulba's design as "a spider crossed with an orangutan crossed with a sloth", with a camel-like face, and clothing inspired by medieval armor. Part of the challenge was to create a creature that used its hands as feet, and its feet as hands.
The crew was considering giving the Neimoidians an alien language with subtitles, translating this into English (similar to other alien species in the franchise), but decided not to, since the Neimoidians carried the "political element" of the film, and did not want to detract from this.
George Lucas approached David Hare to write the screenplay and even co-direct the film. Lucas confessed he had reservations about working with the actors, and hoped that he could focus on the action while Hare focused on the acting. Hare declined.
Among the props in the background, aboard the ship, as the group leaves Tatooine, are three Hewlett-Packard Inkjet cartridges.
Editing took two years; Paul Martin Smith started the process in England and focused on dialogue-heavy scenes. Ben Burtt (who was also the film's Sound Editor) was responsible for action sequences under George Lucas' supervision. Non-linear editing systems played a large part in translating Lucas' vision; he constantly tweaked, revised and reworked shots and scenes. The final sound mix was added in March 1999, and the following month the film was completed after the delivery of the remaining visual effects shots.
Nute Gunray's Thai accent was chosen after George Lucas and Rick McCallum listened to various languages to decide how the Neimodians would speak.
A full size EVA Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) can be seen in Watto's junkyard.
Liam Neeson was 46 when he played Qui-Gon, whose age in the script and canon is 60.
George Lucas based Chancellor Valorum on Bill Clinton, calling him "a good man, but he's beleaguered".
In the summer of 1998, the movie Godzilla (1998) was released amongst a whirlwind of media hype as part an ambitious studio campaign called "Size Does Matter", featuring massive signs and banners meant to emphasize the size of the monster. After its release, the movie was the subject of an intense backlash by both critics and audiences. The programmers of www.StarWars.com put up a temporary webpage with mocking the "Godzilla" campaign with a poster lettered with the green glow reading "Plot Does Matter - May 1999", in reference to Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
Keira Knightley reported to have "cried every single day" due to finding the wardrobe uncomfortable.
Darth Maul is the only Dark Side apprentice who was not previously a Jedi. Count Dooku was once an apprentice to Yoda, and Master to Qui-Gon Jinn. Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker is an apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kylo Ren was an apprentice to Luke Skywalker.
The first Star Wars film to be released on DVD (October 2001. Over a year after its release on VHS).
The "visual theme" of the planet Naboo is heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance design and architecture. While, on Tatooine, the stadium where the pod race takes place is based upon Roman designs of the early Christian era.
The Neimodian's commercial culture and heavy robes were based on ancient Chinese merchants.
To fill all the Senate Pods, teams of extras (mostly Lucasfilm employees) were filmed separately. Some of them were shot on digital video. Enough library footage of Senators was gathered to populate the Senate scenes of both Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Before Samuel L. Jackson expressed his interest in joining the cast, Mace Windu was to be an animatronic character. This alien, was later identified as an 'Anx' and can be seen sitting in Watto's box during the pod race (as Graxol Kelvyyn) as well as during the Senate scenes (as Senator Horox Ryyder).
The beginning and end of this film also parallel the beginning and end of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Both films begin with a smaller ship asking to board a larger one. Both end with the death of a Sith Lord, and the death of a Jedi, with the Jedi being given a funeral by cremation.
Theaters receiving the first trailer and posters were warned, in writing, to return them to the distributor (20th Century Fox) on time, or risk not receiving further media, and possibly the film itself. This was done to attempt to prevent the black-market sale of the incredibly popular trailer.
Despite the rumor that Anakin's alien friend is a young Greedo, he is actually known as Wald. There is a deleted scene, however, showing the alien getting into a fight, and being told off: "Stay out of trouble, Greedo, or you'll come to a bad end".
Adrian Dunbar was originally cast as Bail Organa, and made a brief appearance in the Senate sequence. When his performance was cut, the character's name was changed to Bail Antilles (mentioned on screen by Captain Panaka). A picture of Dunbar still appeared in two publications: The Ultimate Star Wars: Episode I Sticker Book (as Senator Bail Organa) and Star Wars: Episode I Who's Who (as Bail Antilles).
Hugh Jackman, Tim Roth and Harry Connick, Jr. were considered for the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Toward the end of the scene where Qui-Gon, Anakin, Anakin's Mother, etc. are eating dinner, Anakin turns his head to the left... these are two shots of actor Jake Lloyd morphed together.
A few days before the scene, on the Royal Starship that introduces R2-D2, was to be shot, George Lucas decided that he wanted to have a 'barrel' domed droid (an R5 unit) added to the group, which was originally made up out of units with a dome similar to R2-D2. Years earlier, Lucasfilm had given away all the original R3, R4 and R5 domes to Disneyland, for their Star Tours (1987) ride, and being on location at Leavesden studios in England, Don Bies only had a single image to work with, as he quickly made an R5 dome over the weekend. Because of the rush job, it turned out looking slightly different from the original prop, but this same dome was repainted, and used, for every other R5 unit seen in all three Star War prequels.
When young Anakin starts his pod racer for the first time, the ignition buttons on the panel are the same model of the Fiat Uno, an Italian car launched in 1983. One of the car's characteristics is that it featured ergonomic "pod" switchgear clusters on each side of the main instrument binnacle.
Although Nute Gunray (Silas Carson) and Shmi Skywalker (Pernilla August) are both major supporting characters in the film, neither character's name is stated in dialogue until Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
Brian Blessed originally auditioned for the role of Sio Bibble, the Governor of Naboo, for which he was considered "too loud". Casting Director Robin Gurland approached him to play Boss Nass, because it was a "bigger than life" character, with "a kind of bravado".
Terence Stamp disliked working on the film. He declined to reprise his role in the sequels, saying that "Actors prefer to work with actors".
The planet "Tatooine" was named after the town Tataouine in Tunisia. Shooting the "Mos Espa" scenes took place near that town in July 1997.
In November 2015, Ron Howard confirmed that he, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg were approached by George Lucas to direct the film.
George Lucas decided to make elaborate costumes because the film's society was more sophisticated than the one depicted in the original trilogy. Designer Trisha Biggar and her team created over 1,000 costumes that were inspired by various cultures. Biggar worked closely with concept designer Iain McCaig to create a color palette for the inhabitants of each world: Tatooine followed Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) with sun-bleached sand colors, Coruscant had grays, browns and blacks, and Naboo had green and gold for humans while Gungans wore "a leathery look, like their skin". The Jedi costumes followed the tradition from the original film; Obi-Wan's costume was inspired by the costume that was worn by Alec Guinness. Lucas said he and Biggar would look at the conceptual art to "translate all of these designs into cloth and fabric and materials that would actually work, and not look silly". Biggar also consulted Gillard to ensure the costumes would accommodate action scenes, and consulted the creature department to find which fabrics "wouldn't wear too heavily" on the alien skins. A huge wardrobe department was set up at Leavesden Film Studios to create over 250 costumes for the main actors and 5,000 for the background ones.
Ewan McGregor once stated that before filming began he and Liam Neeson were taken to a private room where two Lucasfilm employees approached them with a long, locked wooden box. When opened, they saw twenty various lightsaber hilts that they would each be allowed to choose one of to be their character's official weapon for the movie. They were only given a rushed 10 minutes, and once they had finished deciding on the hilts they wanted everything was put back in its place and the box was re-locked and taken away from the room.
In Anakin's home, there is a wooden model of Maz from Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Pernilla August, a veteran of Swedish cinema, was chosen after auditioning with Liam Neeson. She was afraid of being rejected, because of her accent.
Sebulba's condemnation of Anakin being a slave is hypocritical. According to his backstory, Sebulba was once a slave himself.
The "buzzing" sound of Captain Panaka's portable radio is actually a "ray pistol" from the 1950s. The same sound effect was used in the original Star Wars trilogy, for the restraining bolts on droids.
It appears that the other head of the podrace announcer is simply saying the same thing as the first head, but in Huttesse instead of English. This isn't so. Originally, what the second head said was supposed to be subtitled, and the screenplay of the movie contains a translation of all of his dialogue.
Two conflicting stories have come out of Lucasfilm, on the origin of the Nemoidians' name. One version says that the the aquatically-evolved aliens were named, as an allusion to the fictional naval character, Captain Nemo. According to other sources, however, the race was named for science fiction icon Leonard Nimoy.
Peter Serafinowicz criticized George Lucas' poor direction to him when voicing Darth Maul, which just amounted to "Make him sound evil." and he was not happy that only three of his lines are in the movie, and that he only got a meager salary for those lines. On top of that, he was annoyed that he wasn't even invited to the film's premiere and had to pay for his own tickets and travel expenses, and he didn't think the film was very good on top of that.
To research for the podrace vehicles, the visual effects crew visited a jet aircraft junkyard outside Phoenix, Arizona and scavenged four Boeing 747 engines. Life-sized replicas of the engines were built and sent to Tunisia, to provide reference in the film.
Silas Carson was cast as Nute Gunray, because another actor was uncomfortable with the costumes used by the Trade Federation characters, which were hot, exerted a lot of pressure on the bearer, and took about fifteen minutes to apply.
The cameras were fitted with data capture models to provide technical data for the CGI artists.
During the near-fight between Sebulba and Jar Jar, a background character can be seen with light skin, dreadlocks, and yellow paint over his nose. Expanded Universe writers were inspired by this to create the character Quinlan Vos, who was later mentioned by name in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Frank Oz (the voice of Yoda) would direct Terence Stamp in Bowfinger (1999) released the same year.
Contrary to popular belief, the city where Qui-Gon discovers Anakin is not Mos Eisley, but Mos Espa. When Darth Maul lands on Tatooine, he identifies two settlements in the area. One of them is later revealed to be Mos Espa, which implies that the other settlement could be Mos Eisley.
Steven Spielberg visited the stage in London during set building, when he was shooting Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Chroma key was extensively used for digital set extensions, backgrounds, or scenes that required Cinematographer David Tattersall to seek powerful lamps to light the sets, and Visual Effects Supervisor John Knoll to develop software that would remove the blue reflection from shiny floors. Knoll, who remained on set through most of the production, worked closely with Tatterstall to ensure that the shots were suitable to add effects later.
John Knoll previewed 3,500 storyboards for the film; George Lucas accompanied him to explain factors of the shots that would be practical and those which would be created through visual effects. Knoll later said that on hearing the explanations of the storyboards, he did not know how to accomplish what he had seen. The result was a mixture of original techniques and the newest digital techniques to make it difficult for the viewer to guess which technique was being used. Knoll and his visual effects team wrote new computer software, including cloth simulators to allow a realistic depiction of the digital characters' clothing, to create certain shots.
Ray Park once gave an interview with Wizard magazine where he stated that he changed the intended original design of the double-bladed lightsaber without meaning to. Originally, the hilt was going to be the same size as a single bladed lightsaber's hilt, as this design was thought to be the standard because of years of Star Wars Expanded Universe/Legacy comic book drawings (most notably based on Exar Kun comics). But when Ray finally received his prop saber, he was quick to tell the Lucasfilm prop masters that if the hilt was going to be so small that he wouldn't be able to twirl it and spin it around his head and neck without the Darth Maul character hurting himself in the process. With nothing more said, the prop masters returned to him a week later with the now franchise standard "long hilt" design.
Jake Lloyd was picked over Cameron Finley Michael Angarano, Devon Michael, Zack O'Malley Greenburg, Justin Berfield for Anakin Skywaler.
After discovering he'd gotten the part of Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor had his first ever lightsaber duel with Noel Gallagher using prop lightsabers owned by Noel. The duel took place in the back garden of Noel's house in Belsize Park after Ewan had attended an all-night party there the day before.
Every film in the franchise begins with a shot of a star field moving to a ship that is flying towards or away from the camera. This movie opens with a transport ship headed for a Trade Federation ship.
Ron Magid commented that "it's easier to spot the few hundred shots that don't feature any CGI work at all, than the nearly 2,000 shots that do."
Greg Proops and Scott Capurro, the voices of the two-headed podrace commentator, originally recorded their scenes (both in English) in full makeup in front of a greenscreen. It wasn't until the film came out, that they discovered that they had been digitally replaced. This was also when Proops realized that Capurro had separately re-recorded his lines in Huttese.
Greg Proops' and Scott Capurro's credits are reversed. Proops plays Beed Annodue, the red, English-speaking pod-race announcer, and Capurro plays Fode Annodue, the green, Huttese-speaking announcer.
Ewan McGregor's lightsaber prop stick was green instead of blue, because the blue screen would have made it look different if he used a blue lightsaber stick prop, the color for his lightsaber was later added in digitally for the movie itself.
The bullfrog in the underwater Gungan City is based on Jabba the Hut, since Jabba eats bullfrogs. He's seen in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi eating a bucket of bullfrogs and opens the pod race in this movie by biting the head off a frog and spitting it onto the gong to start the race. Their skin tones also match the environment in which they live.
This is the only film in the Star Wars series not to involve the Death Star at all. It is alluded to in Attack of the Clones with a Hologram given to Count Dooku. It is shown being built in Revenge of the Sith. It is a major plot point in both A New Hope and The Return of the Jedi and it is mentioned in the script of The Empire Strikes Back. The plans for it are discussed in Rogue One. And the Death Star is compared to Starkiller Base in The Force Awakens.
For this film, lightsabers underwent a redesign for a more streamlined appearance. As the props for the original film were made from old camera pieces, they proved unwieldy, and the actors suffered injuries from their awkward design.
Except for Jake Lloyd inside a hydraulically controlled cockpit, and a few practical podracer models, the entire podracing scene, which the effects crew designed to be as "out of this world" as possible, is computer-generated.
In a scene in the Skywalker home, George Lucas digitally altered Jake Lloyd's eyes to look in a different direction momentarily.
The Naboo Palace setting, was also the ballroom set for the Frankenstein family mansion in Geneva, used in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994). Celia Imrie appears in both movies.
One of the very first casting rumors for the "Star Wars Prequel", came from a science-fiction magazine called Starblazer. In their Summer 1985 issue, they published that actress Sybil Danning was to possibly portray the "sexy witch" that seduces Anakin Skywalker to the Dark Side. In 2012, Danning confirmed on her Facebook page that the rumor was indeed true, and that many discussions took place at that time.
The Republic Cruiser, seen at the beginning of the film, is based on an early concept design for the Rebel Blockade Runner from Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
The only Star Wars movie to be re-released in 3-D. It was however initially planned to re-release all the films in 3D on an annual basis. However, Star Wars was sold to Disney in 2012 and they did not continue the project.
Sofia Coppola later directed Natalie Portman in a commercial for Dior clothing. That commercial also featured Alden Ehrenreich, who later played Han Solo.
The character of Finis Valorum appeared again in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost One (2014) (TV Episode), which the deposed former Supreme Chancellor is visited by Yoda whom speaks to him about the lightsaber that belonged to Jedi Sifo-Dyas.
George Lucas originally wanted Sammo Kam-Bo Hung to be the lightsaber fight choreographer.
Several crew members and actors had recurring, or multiple supporting, roles in the film. Among them, Jerome Blake played several alien characters, Mike Savva was a captured Naboo ground crew tech, and also a Naboo Guard, later appearing as the Naboo Guard at the beginning of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
The character design of Watto was an amalgam of rejected ideas; his expressions were based on video footage of Andy Secombe's voice acting, photographs of Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman imitating the character, and Modeller Steve Alpin saying Watto's lines to a mirror.
The UK DVD version is rated 'PG' instead of 'U' because of the deleted scenes on the supplemental disc. The making-of documentary was edited (ca. 13 sec.) to remove all sexual expletives (a '15' rating was available).
Future Academy Award nominee Sally Hawkins was an extra while attending drama school. She was on set for one day, as a friend was able to give her access. She was paid 100 quid for playing an extra during the celebration scene at the end, and wore a chiffon costume. On set she saw Ewan McGregor while he was playing football, but didn't talk to him. Years later she co-starred with him in Cassandra's Dream (2007) but has never told him they had previously "co-starred".
A binder with the film's storyboards, served as a reference for live-action filming, shots that would be filmed in front of a chroma key greenscreen, and shots that would be composed using CGI.
The film was criticized by many fans for its perceived overuse of computer-generated sets and special effects. In reality, more (miniature) sets and props were made for this film than for the original trilogy combined. The same goes for Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005).
The last film in the UK to be given the U rating, but it was later re-rated PG for the DVD. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), the following film was given the PG rating and both Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) were given the 12A rating.
The opening sequence has parallels to both Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). Like Jedi, it begins with a small ship approaching a big one, and asking for permission to board. Like A New Hope, the two main characters end up in a firefight. Qui-Gon tries to melt through the door to the bridge, just as the storm troopers cut through a door to board the Tantive IV. One major reversal is that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are high-ranking Jedi, while R2-D2 and C-3PO are mere droids.
The look of the Trade Federation Battle Droids, is partly inspired by African tribal sculpture. The appearance of the Naboo Star Fighters, is loosely based upon a hairpin.
Trace Beaulieu read for the role of Jar Jar Binks. He didn't get the role, but the movie would later be lampooned by his former Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) costars Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy on RiffTrax.
Kelly Macdonald was in the running to play Queen Amidala. She starred along with Ewan MacGregor in Trainspotting (1996). In which, she played Renton's teenage girlfriend, Diane.
A huge wardrobe department was set up at Leavesden Film Studios to create over 250 costumes for the main actors and 5,000 for the background ones.
Dominic West also had an additional role as a Naboo officer, but that scene was deleted.
One of this film's trailers debuted with Wing Commander (1999), which starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., who would later provide the voice of fallen Jedi Kanan on Star Wars Rebels (2014).
Star Wars Insider Magazine Publisher Dan Madsen is seen doing his bit, as an extra, grabbing the reins of a "Kaadu" at the celebration scene. He's short and wearing a light green outfit.
Jabba the Hutt is noticeably different from his previous appearance in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), as he is much younger.
Michael Angarano auditioned for the role of young Anakin, and was one of the three finalists along with Jake Lloyd, who won the role.
Keira Knightly claimed that although they tried to be consistent having her play only Sabe when she is decoying for Queen Amidala, there are a few long shots of her standing in for Natalie Portman when Padme is supposed to be in-character as the Queen.
Jake Lloyd only just turned the same age as a Young Anakin Skywalker when Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) came out in May of 1999.
Recordings of Sound Designer Ben Burtt's baby daughter's cry were used for the sounds of an underwater sea monster on Naboo.
There were rumors that Larisa Oleynik was considered for the role of Padmé before Natalie Portman was officially cast.
Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who is modeled after Richard Nixon, comes to power by manipulating Padme (Natalie Portman), who later becomes the mother of Princess Leia. In real life, Carrie Fisher was introduced to Nixon by her mother Debbie Reynolds.
The Hutt behind Jabba during the podrace is Gardulla the Hutt, the original owner of Shmi and Anakin before losing them to Watto in a bet. She later appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Hunt for Ziro (2010).
Warwick Davis: Davis, who played Wicket in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), is sitting next to Watto during the pod race scene. He also plays Anakin's friend Wald, a Rodian child.
John Knoll: The visual effects supervisor at ILM plays the Naboo pilot who gets killed during the space battle with the Trade Federation. It happens after Ric Olié says, "The deflector shield is too strong."
Rick McCallum: The producer appears on the right, in a floppy wide-brim hat, when Queen Amidala meets Senator Palpatine.