Originally created 05/17/02

'Star Wars' galaxy populated by some actors of distinction



Sometimes it's difficult to remember that those actors forcibly injected into George Lucas's Star Wars universe have careers beyond the roaring spacecraft and swishing light sabers. Harrison Ford was 32 before he ever strapped himself into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Surely he was doing something with those years. Original Obi-Wan Kenobi Alec Guinness had long been recognized as one of England's finest actors before he went and got himself forever typecast as an aging Jedi.

So what of the stars of Attack of the Clones? Well, contrary to popular belief, they did not emerge, Athena-style, fully formed from the head of Star Wars despot Lucas. Below are some notable films that feature the stars of Episode II sans laser beams and Imperial angst.

TRAINSPOTTING (1996): Before he donned the robes of young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the two most recent Star Wars films, Scottish actor Ewan McGregor wowed audiences with a nasty heroin habit. Trainspotting, the at once jubilant and jarring look into the lives of a tribe of Scottish addicts, succeeds because of its unflinching approach to the material, its high-energy filmmaking and the charisma of Mr. McGregor, who stars as a conflicted hero-fool enslaved by addiction.

THE PROFESSIONAL (1994): If the whole princess/senator thing doesn't work out for starlet Natalie Portman (like that is going to happen), she can always go back to whacking people. Ms. Portman, who plays Padme Amidala, the paramour to the future Darth Vader, made her feature-film debut playing an orphan taken in by an emotionally damaged assassin. The film is notable for its innovative action sequence and its ability to adapt European cinematic sensibilities to an American story.

PULP FICTION (1994): It's been less than 10 years since Quentin Tarantino wowed audiences with his non linear tale of small-time criminals and thugs, yet his masterwork is often regarded more as a historical document than the bravura piece of filmmaking it actually is. Particularly entrancing is Star Wars Jedi Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of a hit man in the throes of a spiritual crisis.

THE WICKER MAN (1973): Unique in the annals of cinema history, this is a deliberately blood-free horror film that features musical numbers and melodrama along with the expected chills. Christopher Lee, who plays Count Dooku in the current Star Wars movie, said Wicker Man was the best movie in which he appeared. It certainly is among the most unusual.

ONCE WERE WARRIORS (1994): Before he stepped in the familiar Fett armor playing Jango Fett, father to the infamous bounty hunter Boba in the Star Wars universe, actor Temuera Morrison appeared in this harrowing tale of a Maori family living in the shadow of a violent father in modern New Zealand. In the film, Mr. Morrison displays a Brando-esque primality that could be an interesting addition to the pantheon of Lucas characters.

Other notable films featuring Attack of the Clones actors include The Virgin Suicides (1999), which featured Haydn Christensen (Anakin Skywalker), Old Gringo (1989), which featured Jimmy Smits (Bail Organa), and Mona Lisa (1986), which included an appearance by Kenny Baker (R2-D2).

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.