Liam Neeson was so eager to be in the film that he signed on without having read the script.
During filming, Ewan McGregor made lightsaber noises as he dueled. George Lucas explained many times that this would be added in by the special effects people later on. Ewan said "I kept getting carried away."
Natalie Portman's voice was digitally enhanced to distinguish between Padmé and Queen Amidala.
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 in construction.
After the film's end credits finish rolling, the sound effect of Darth Vader's breathing can be heard.
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 must face a series of trials. If completed, he cuts the braid with his lightsaber, signifying that the student is now a full Jedi Knight.
Qui-Gon Jinn's (Liam Neeson's) communicator is a redecorated Gillette Sensor Excel Razor for Women.
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.
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.
During the first week of the first trailer's release, many theaters reported up to seventy-five percent of their audiences paying full price for a movie, then walking out after the Star Wars: Episode I trailer was shown.
Ewan McGregor recalled that his performance in the film consisted of "walking into rooms and looking up".
Keira Knightley's parents tried to convince her not to audition, but the twelve-year-old actress still sought a role, given she was a Star Wars fan.
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).
Twentieth 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.
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.
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 and events.
Ewan McGregor studied many of Sir 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.
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.
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.
Darth Maul only speaks a total of three lines spending almost all of his screen time either listening, walking or standing quietly, or fighting. Interesting is that Maul actually has a very memorable, intense monologue about fear that was used in TV spots but never actually made it into the final movie. Furthermore, Peter Serafinowicz has stated in an interview that he actually recorded much more dialogue for Maul that never ended up in the film.
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."
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".
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 finally joined the Star Wars franchise when he played DJ in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017).
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 same thing had happened during filming of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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).
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.
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".
George Lucas made a similar deal as he did with Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Lucas and Twentieth 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.
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.
Before the look of Darth Maul was set, it went through a number of designs. Initially, George Lucas asked concept designer Ian McCaig to draw his worst nightmare. McCaig recalled one where a dead yet alive figure was pressing its face against a window during a thunderstorm, staring at him. He used that as a basis, and the result was a portrait of a black dressed demonic character with light blue skin, dark eyes and with long red strands falling from its head. Lucas found the picture too disturbing and said to McCaig "Okay. Now draw me your second worst nightmare..."
EASTER EGG: The starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) can be seen briefly amongst the traffic flying around Coruscant.
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 Sir 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.
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 light-saber hilts that they would be allowed to choose from to be their character's official weapon for the movie. George Lucas only wanted to allow them a rushed ten minutes to decide, believing that the actors should connect with their hilts through feeling and not through study. And once they had finished deciding on the hilts they wanted, everything was put back in its place, the box was re-locked, and it was taken away from the room.
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 in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002), and for the 2011 Blu-ray edition of this movie, the puppet was fully replaced by a digital Yoda.
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.
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's 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.
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.
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.
Ewan McGregor was cast from a shortlist of fifty actors, all of whom had to be compared to pictures of young Sir Alec Guinness.
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.
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.
Keira Knightley reported to have "cried every single day" due to finding the wardrobe uncomfortable.
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."
The special effects teams creating the podrace studied NASCAR crash footage extensively to assure accuracy in the crashes.
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.
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.
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.)
Reportedly, after a light-saber scene, Ewan McGregor could be overheard muttering, "'Do I want to be in Star Wars?' Fuck yeah!"
A re-release of this movie 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.
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.
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.
Vin Diesel, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Kyle MacLachlan, Kurt Russell, and Denzel Washington were considered for the role of Qui-Gon Jinn. Kurt Russell has previously lost the role of Han Solo to Harrison Ford.
Darth Maul has 8.5 minutes of screentime. He doesn't show up until almost the half-hour mark, and the majority of his screen time is spent standing around while listening to someone else, until the epic final showdown against Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, of course. Considering how much Maul was built up to be a terrifying villian in the movie's marketing, many fans were understandably disappointed with him ending up a glorified lackey who had even less screen time than Darth Vader's 12 minutes in A New Hope.
Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, is the nephew of Denis Lawson, who played Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in the original trilogy.
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 thirty-two years BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) is twenty-two BBY, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) is nineteen 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 three years ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) is four ABY, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) is thirty-four ABY, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017) is thirty-four ABY.
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.
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.
George Lucas cast Natalie Portman after seeing her in Léon: The Professional (1994) and Beautiful Girls (1996).
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.
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.
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.
Kenneth Branagh was originally considered for the part of the younger Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In late 2015, Liam Neeson stated that he enjoyed making this film so much, saying that George Lucas was a good director with whom you can talk easily and knows what he wants, he also said that he is open to reprise his role as Qui-Gon Jinn if asked.
In the original trilogy, light-saber 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" light-saber props to be substituted for the deactivated handles. This no longer poses a problem, and every activation and deactivation occurs on-screen in this film.
Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber design was borrowed from the 1996 comic book series "Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War".
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.
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".
C-3PO 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.
The dress Amidala is wearing when she addresses the Senate is modelled after a Mongolian garment worn by nobility.
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.
The first movie directed by George Lucas since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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.
Although the striking image of Darth Maul (Ray Park) was often used in promoting the movie, leading to many people's assumption that the title was referring to him, "The Phantom Menace" is really referring to Senator Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) whose involvement as a menace, Darth Sidious, is "elusive" like a phantom to all other characters but Darth Maul. The Viceroy of the Trade Federation is unaware of the identity of his special acquaintance, Lord Sidious, who while communicating with the Viceroy only appears in the form of a teleconferencing hologram, which is like a phantom. The heroes of the story are further unaware that the Viceroy even has such an acquaintance, as they question the motives of the Trade Federation. As Palpatine is the puppetmaster of the whole movie (and the entire prequel trilogy, for that matter)--orchestrating the Naboo invasion whilst befriending the Queen, playing both sides against each other for his own political gain, and introducing Darth Maul from the shadows--it is he who should be considered the chief villain of the piece, the true phantom menace. Of special note, at the ending of the movie, while Yoda (Frank Oz) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) discuss the Sith affiliation of "the mysterious warrior," the music ends on an unresolved chord while the camera pans to the newly selected Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
"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.
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.
George Lucas reportedly wrote this movie 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).
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.
Terence Stamp disliked working on the film. He clarified that he had been looking forward to his scene with Natalie Portman, but was dismayed to find out that Portman wasn't on set that day; he was asked to act towards a piece of paper taped to the wall instead, which he described as "very boring". He declined to reprise his role in the sequels, saying that "Actors prefer to work with actors". Also, when he complained to a producer about how little he was being paid, he was told he would get a present from George Lucas. The present turned out to be a cheap Star Wars children's stencil set.
This was the final Star Wars film to be shot on 35mm film until Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
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.
The Neimodians were originally to be computer-generated creatures, but to save costs, a mere twelve weeks before shooting was about to commence, they were changed into men wearing masks. Animatronic model designer John Coppinger quickly recycled animatronic masks of the Mangalores from The Fifth Element (1997) that creature effects supervisor Nick Dudman still owned to use as the basis for their facial movements.
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.
After discovering he'd gotten the part of Obi-Wan, Ewan McGregor had his first ever light-saber duel with Noel Gallagher using prop light-sabers 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.
After the first lap of the podrace, Watto and Sebulba speak Finnish saying, "Thank You" and "You're Welcome".
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' 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.
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, a good friend of her father Francis Ford Coppola, offered her a role in the royal entourage, which she accepted because it "seemed like a good vantage point to watch without getting in the way".
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.
Of the two hour and thirteen minute running time, only ten to fifteen minutes contain no visual effects.
George Lucas' 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 this movie.
This is the only Star Wars movie in which Anthony Daniels did not provide the movements of C-3PO. Instead they were performed by puppeteer Michael Lynch.
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.
George Lucas cast Jake Lloyd and Natalie Portman as Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala because he wanted to cast actors whom physically resembled Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher whom played their children Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa.
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.
Two Wookies can be seen in the Galactic Senate meeting. For the first time in twenty-one years, Star Wars Wookiees were played by someone other than Peter Mayhew.
Jar Jar Binks, the computer-generated character voiced and motion-captured by Ahmed Best, quickly drew the ire of long-time Star Wars fans who reacted very negatively to the character's clumsiness and voice, something which they claimed was meant to represent a subservient Afro-American stereotype. Jar Jar went on to become one of the most hated characters in movie history, something which almost completely obscured the fact that Best was the first actor to play a completely computer-generated supporting character (that credit usually goes to Andy Serkis as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) instead). Haters devoted entire websites to their animosity for and ridicule toward the character, and some even created re-edits of the movie that omit most of Jar Jar's scenes. According to Best, the backlash against Jar Jar got so bad that he briefly considered committing suicide, but decided not to for the sake of his young son.
In Anakin's home, there is a wooden model of Maz from Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (George Lucas): (1138): 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.
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.
A full size EVA Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) can be seen in Watto's junkyard.
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 this movie were re-used.
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 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).
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).
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.
Colored Q-Tips were photographed on a miniature stadium set in order to provide the background spectators during the pod race sequence.
Qui-Gon Jinn's name is not given in dialogue until thirty-eight 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).
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.
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).
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 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)
Liam Neeson was forty-six when he played Qui-Gon, whose age in the script and canon is sixty.
For this film, light-sabers 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.
Ray Park once gave an interview with Wizard Magazine where he stated that he changed the intended original design of the double-bladed light-saber without meaning to. Originally, the hilt was going to be the same size as a single bladed light-saber's hilt, as this design was thought to be the standard because of years of Star Wars Expanded Universe and 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.
Andy Secombe based his vocal performance of Watto on Sir 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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).
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.
The bullfrog in the underwater Gungan City is based on Jabba the Hutt, since Jabba eats bullfrogs. He's seen in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) 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.
Queen Amidala's ship was originally designed to be a yacht powered by a solar sail. When this idea was rejected, it was later recycled for Count Dooku's Solar Sailer in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). The final chrome look of the Queen's ship was inspired by 1950s-style automobile hood ornaments.
The first Star Wars film to be released on DVD (October 2001. Over a year after its release on VHS).
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.
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).
Among the props in the background aboard the ship as the group leaves Tatooine are three Hewlett-Packard Inkjet cartridges.
Theaters receiving the first trailer and posters were warned in writing to return them to the distributor (Twentieth 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.
Pernilla August, a veteran of Swedish cinema, was chosen after auditioning with Liam Neeson. She was afraid of being rejected because of her accent.
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".
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.
Jake Lloyd was picked over Cameron Finley Michael Angarano, Devon Michael, Zack O'Malley Greenburg, and Justin Berfield.
Concept designer Ian McCaig experimented with the Rorschach technique (adding ink blobs on a sheet of paper and fold it to create a symmetrical pattern) to create Darth Maul's characteristic tattoos. He also envisioned him to have a crown of feathers on his head as an ornament. The latter was replaced by a set of horns, which made it into the final design.
During filming, security on set was so tight that everybody had to wear a name-tag. George Lucas wore a tag that read 'Yoda'. This name was also listed as the director on the Episode I clapperboards as seen in behind the scenes photos of Rick McCallum holding it up prior to the first take which was shot on Thursday, June 26, 1997.
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.
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.
The Neimodians' commercial culture and heavy robes were based on ancient Chinese merchants.
George Lucas based Chancellor Valorum on Bill Clinton, calling him "a good man, but he's beleaguered".
As of 2016, this is the only film in the franchise with no stormtroopers, nor any mention of a Death Star.
The Galactic capital 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).
Twelve years after the film was released, Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn) and Pernilla August (Shmi Skywalker) 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).
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.
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.
The design of Queen Amidala's starship, in which she escapes Naboo with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, was inspired by the Lockheed Martin SR-71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance jet.
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".
In November 2015, Ron Howard confirmed that he, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg were approached by George Lucas to direct the film.
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).
Nute Gunray's Thai accent was chosen after George Lucas and Rick McCallum listened to various languages to decide how the Neimodians would speak.
Keira Knightly claimed that although they tried to be consistent having her play only Sabé when she is decoying for Queen Amidala, there are a few long shots of her standing in for Natalie Portman when Padmé is supposed to be in-character as the Queen.
Ewan McGregor's lightsaber prop stick was green instead of blue, because the bluescreen would have made it look different if he used a blue lightsaber stick prop, the color for his lightsaber was later added in digitally.
The only Star Wars movie to be re-released in 3-D. It was however initially planned to re-release all the films in 3-D on an annual basis. However, Star Wars was sold to Disney in 2012, and they did not continue the project.
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 planet "Tatooine" was named after the town Tataouine in Tunisia. Shooting the "Mos Espa" scenes took place near that town in July 1997.
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.
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.
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).
Nine R2-D2 models were created; one was for Kenny Baker into which to be dropped, seven were built by Industrial Light & Magic 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.
Greg Proops and Scott Capurro, the voices of the two-headed podrace commentator, originally recorded their scenes (both in English) in full make-up 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.
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.
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.
A sequence was written and partially filmed in which R2-D2 leaned too far over the Coruscant landing platform and fell off, only to fly back up using his own previously unseen booster rockets. Outtakes of this scene have appeared in behind the scenes footage, and the idea of Artoo having rockets was eventually used in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). Interestingly, an action figure of R2-D2 from the 'Phantom Menace' toy line featured those rockets.
Every film in the franchise except for Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) 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.
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, Shmi, et cetera, are eating dinner, Anakin turns his head to the left. These are two shots of Jake Lloyd morphed together.
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.
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).
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.
Sofia Coppola later directed Natalie Portman in a commercial for Dior clothing. That commercial also featured Alden Ehrenreich, who later played Han Solo.
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.
Steven Spielberg visited the stage in London during set building when he was shooting Saving Private Ryan (1998).
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 Sir 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 actresses, and 5,000 for the background ones.
Sebulba's condemnation of Anakin being a slave is hypocritical. According to his backstory, Sebulba was once a slave himself.
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.
Yoda's warning about the nature of the dark side ("Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate..leads to suffering") actually predicts Anakin's character arc throughout the trilogy. In this theatrical film, he's a scared boy. In Attack of the Clones, he's an angry teenager. In The Clone Wars, he's noble yet deeply flawed war hero. In Revenge of the Sith, he's a hateful young man. As Darth Vader, he's a suffering man.
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.
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).
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."
One of the first casting rumors for the "Star Wars prequel" came from a science fiction magazine called Starblazer. In their Summer 1985 issue, they published that 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.
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.
The cameras were fitted with data capture models to provide technical data for the CGI artists.
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 appeared in both movies.
In a scene in the Skywalker home, George Lucas digitally altered Jake Lloyd's eyes to look in a different direction momentarily.
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).
Alan Harris, who played several background characters in the original Star Wars trilogy, including the bounty hunter Bossk, served as Terence Stamp's double during the arrival on Coruscant scene. This sequence was shot on Wednesday, 2 July 1997, which was the first day on which the entire cast was assembled to film.
When Yoda talks about Anakin at the end of the film stating that the boy's future is clouded, the Imperial March makes a brief yet meaningful appearance.
The character of Finis Valorum appeared again in Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008) season six, episode ten, "The Lost One", which the deposed former Supreme Chancellor is visited by Yoda, who speaks to him about the light-saber that belonged to Jedi Sifo-Dyas.
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).
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.
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).
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.
Employment consultant firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated that 2.2 million full-time employees missed work to attend the film, resulting in a US$293 million loss of productivity in the USA.
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 (thirteen seconds) 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 one hundred 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".
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.
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 original plan was for Maul to simply fall down the chute in one piece intead of being bisected, Speaking to Empire shortly after the movie's release, George Lucas said of the original death scene, "I looked at it and thought this isn't going to work because, if people like him enough, they are going to want him to come back and they're going to assume somehow he gets out of it. So I had to cut him in half to say this guy's gone, he's history, he ain't coming back. I'll come up with another apprentice." The original death scene was reportedly screened to test audiences shortly before the movie's release and ultimately retained as an alternate take in case the MPAA balked at the more brutal final take.
George Lucas originally wanted Sammo Kam-Bo Hung to be the light-saber fight choreographer.
In the scene before the near fight between Jar-Jar Binks and Sebulba, Jar-Jar is about to eat some food from a stand and the owner shouts at him in Huttese, and Jar-Jar repeats sounds that sound like the food stand owner's words, even, with his mouth full. He even reacts to it by spitting out the food, obviously being told by the food stand owner that he has to pay for food if he is going to eat it. This small scene hints that Jar-Jar knows and understands other alien languages and was probably a Gungan linguist in Naboo, though it has not been said or proven throughout the movie.
A huge wardrobe department was set up at Leavesden Film Studios to create over two hundred fifty costumes for the main actors and five thousand for the background ones.
This is the only film in the Star Wars film franchise not to involve the Death Star at all. It is alluded to in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) with a hologram given to Count Dooku. It is shown being built in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). It is a major plot point in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), and it is mentioned in the script of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980). The plans for it are discussed in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), and the Death Star is compared to Starkiller Base in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
Ron Howard whom declined the offer to direct the movie would later direct the spin-off movie Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) which was about how Han Solo first met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian and which he first became the captain of the Millennium Falcon.
Jake Lloyd only just turned the same age as a young Anakin Skywalker when this movie came out in May of 1999.
The fact that Anakin is not always in control of his contribution to blowing up the space console, ending the war, is a reverse of how Luke is always in control when destroying the Death Star in Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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.
It has been long debated among fans as to the inspiration for the character name of Anakin Skywalker. One often most cited reason is that its a reference to the film director Ken Annakin. Another more cerebral possibility is that the name is a contrived wordplay on "akin" = alike. An akin Skywalker, a similar member of the Skywalker family, becomes then "corrupted" into the name Anakin. George Lucas, as of february 2019, has not officially confirmed if the name originated from either, or a combination of both sources, or if its in fact from a completely different inspiration.
In the 1999 book "Star Wars The Making of Episode I The Phantom Menace by Laurent Bouzereau & Jody Duncan, it is revealed that John Williams began writing the score in the middle of the film, as he wanted to get to the human aspects, specifically the scenes between Anakin and his mother, before he got into the action sequences. He then moved to the end of the film, because he wanted to know where he was riding to, so he could work toward that.
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.
Frank Oz admitted in an interview on YouTube that he loved Jar Jar Binks and even went as far as to say Jar Jar is hysterical like Abbott and Costello. He thought George did a great job creating him and doesn't know what happened after the audience reacted strongly back in 1999.
A Darth Maul video game was in development before being shuttered ahead of Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm and LucasArts Red Fly Studio had worked up a prototype which they later released footage of online, showing the player controlling Maul and slicing through enemies in impressive third-person battle sequences.
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 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) was given the PG rating, and both Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005) and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015) were given the 12A rating.
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 and computer generated.
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.
Dominic West also had an additional role as a Naboo officer, but that scene was deleted.
Qui-Gon Jinn notes that, despite the Trade Federation's demands during their invasion of Naboo, there is no real logic behind it, and suspects there is something else behind their movements.
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.
One of this film's trailers debuted with Wing Commander (1999), which starred Freddie Prinze, Jr., who would later provide the voice of former Jedi Kanan on Star Wars Rebels (2014).
Both Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson would later join the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Lucasfilm Ltd. was later bought by Disney which would also own Marvel Studios.
In the underwater scene, where a giant "goober fish" monster attacks the Gungan transport containing Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon and Jar-Jar, only to be attacked by a bigger sea monster, Qui-Gon mutters, "There's always a bigger fish." This foreshadows how Palpatine is the "bigger fish" in the revival of the Sith, and his plot to take control of the galaxy, and make fools out of the Jedi.
Michael Angarano auditioned for the role of young Anakin, and was one of the three finalists along with Jake Lloyd, who won the role.
The cruiser that loses its hyperdrive and lands for repair on Tatooine is similar to the design of the alien ship that kidnaps a boy in Flight of the Navigator (1986).
Recordings of sound designer Ben Burtt's baby daughter's cry were used for the sounds of an underwater sea monster on Naboo.
After the podrace Shmi tells Anakin that he "has given hope to those who have none." Anakin will father Luke and Leia, the hopes of the Original Trilogy.
Two of Padmé's handmaidens predict film references from later in the series. Keira Knightley (and Celia Imrie) appeared in the 2002 remake of Doctor Zhivago. The original 1965 film served as the inspiration for much of Anakin and Padmé's relationship. Sofia Coppola appeared in The Godfather, as the baby in the infamous Baptism sequence. Episode III copied this sequence in the part where Anakin kills the separatist leaders.
Concept artists based the design on Jar Jar Binks as a cross between a duck-billed dinosaur and an emu. His neck movements were based on the movements of long-necked birds like cranes, herons and ostriches. His skin texture was based on frogs and parrot fish.
Ron Howard was considered to direct this film, but refused. Reportedly, he thought the task was too much for him, he didn't want the responsibility.
There were rumors that Larisa Oleynik was considered for the role of Padmé before Natalie Portman was officially cast.
Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), who was modelled after Richard Nixon, comes to power by manipulating Padmé (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 poster art for Alien Overlords (2018) features the Lucrehulk-class Droid Control Ship from Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
During the first meeting between Palpatine and Anakin; Palpatine pats the young boy on the back, saying that, "-we will be watching your career with great interest."
The film is the first film franchise to star Natalie Portman. Natalie Portman later joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe which she appeared in Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) as Jane Foster.
Three years later, while Natalie Portman was returning to play Padmé again, Keira Knightley was appearing in the TV movie Doctor Zhivago (2002). The original Doctor Zhivago (1965) featured the original Obi-Wan, Alec Guinness. Knightley's role was played by Julie Christie, who later appeared in Shampoo (1975), which was the first film of Carrie Fisher. The original Zhivago was also the inspiration for many plot elements of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).
Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson would eventually be cast as villains in films based on DC Comics 15 years apart. Neeson in Batman Begins as Ra's Al Ghul and McGregor as Black Mass in Birds Of Prey.
In the original script, before the Podrace, Jar Jar Binks puts his hand encouragingly on Anakin's shoulder and wishes him good luck, telling him "may da gods be with yous". [May the gods be with you].
R2-D2 helps the spaceship land on Tatooine where they find Anakin as a slave. In Episode IV, R2-D2 records Leia before leaving the spaceship which plays the message back to Luke enticing him to rescue her. Therefore, R2 is responsible for the discovery of two slaves who are not only father-daughter, but are held captive in opposite locations of either the planet Tatooine or a spsceship.
Qui-Gon's name is mentioned over a half hour into Episode I even though he arrives very early in the movie. This is a reverse of Obi-Wan appearing over a half hour into Episode IV even though his name is mentioned very early by Princess Leia. This also explains why Obi-Wan as a young man is first seen on the same spaceship as his mentor to reverse when the audience first meets him with Luke on a planet in Episode IV.
Liam Neeson plays a mentor to the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role previously played by Sir Alec Guinness. Guinness's own mentor was Sir John Gielgud who, although only ten years older, cast Guinness in his first theatrical role as Osric in Hamlet. Nesson and Gielgud appeared together in Shining Through. Neeson's on-screen mentor was played by Christopher Lee, who appeared in the 1948 film of Hamlet, as did fellow Star Wars actor Peter Cushing, who actually played Guinness's role. Guinness and Gielgud died just months apart the year following this film's release. Lee died on June 7, 2015, which was also Neeson's 63rd birthday.
The first Star Wars film in which female pilots are established. Technically, Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) preceded this film, as women were cast as pilots in the Battle of Endor sequences, before their voices were overdubbed by men in post-production.
Queen Amidala says to Senator Palpatine that she will "pray" he can restore sanity and compassion to the Senate, which is uncharacteristic of a society that makes contact with "the Force", and hopes that it "will be with you".
Natalie Portman plays the mother of Carrie Fisher's character. Portman's first film was Léon: The Professional (1994), in which the title character watches Singin' in the Rain (1952), which featured Fisher's real-life mother, Debbie Reynolds. Like Reynolds, Portman at one point sings the title song.
There were rumors that Larisa Oleynik was considered for the role of Padmé before Natalie Portman was officially cast.
Natalie Portman's first film, Léon: The Professional (1994), featured Gary Oldman. Oldman later appeared in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), in a role previously played by Alec Guinness.
'Queen Amidala' is seen in some shots wearing black robes. This could be based on Queen Victoria who infamously wore black clothing after her husband Albert died in 1861 until her death in 1901.
Not only was this the final Star Wars film of the millennium but it was the final film before the death of Alec Guinness (Obi Wan Kenobi from the original trilogy), although he was not in it.
In a blink and miss it moment Qui Gonn, Kenobi and Maul clash their light sabers together. Even though Maul is the enemy this is a parody of The Three Musketeers who did the same thing with their swords with the famous quote 'All for one and one for all"
The only Episode of the prequels where Anakin doesn't use a lightsaber. This is because Padme uses guns in I and II, but not III. This is one way that symbolizes that II is the middle of the prequel trilogy since both love interests are using weapons. Sort of a beginning, middle and end reference similar to the final lightsaber duels rotating in scenarios throughout the series.
British actress Vinette Robinson auditioned for the part of Queen Amidala. She would later play Pilot Tyce in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
The controversy of this movie is so strong that an over hour long video on YouTube from redlettermedia became famous for dissecting every negative aspect of the movie even though most of its information from the script and characters is largely inaccurate since the video claims Anakin arrived at 45 minutes when he really arrives at 32 minutes. The video doesn't understand that each Episode rotates when the characters both arrive and behave. However, the attention of the documentary created a "ring theory" of the entire prequel trilogy and later a documentary of the trilogy called The Prequels Strike Back: A Fan's Journey (2016). Another documentary involving fan reactions was called The People vs George Lucas (2010) though it is uncertain if it was made because of redlettermedia's video or just a coincidence since the documentary was released the following year.
When George Lucas was interviewed by Roger Ebert a day after Ebert saw the movie, Lucas said, "Everything is too hip. It's hip to put people down." Ten years later, a YouTube channel called redlettermedia put everything associated with the Star Wars prequels down and became very popular.
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 Industrial Light & Magic 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.