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Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) Poster

Trivia

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During filming Ewan McGregor made lightsaber noises as he dueled. It was noted and corrected during post production.
Fox released the first trailer with strict instructions that it not be shown before a certain date. When a Canadian movie theatre accidentally showed it a day early, they lost the rights to show the movie.
After the film's end credits finish rolling, the sound effect of Darth Vader's breathing can be heard.
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.
Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) missed the premiere party in New York 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 theatres reported up to 75% of their audiences paying full price for a movie, then walking out after the Star Wars: Episode I trailer was shown.
There is only one shot in the film to which no visual effects were added at all: the shot of the dioxis gas pouring out of the vent in the meeting room.
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.
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."
Natalie Portman's voice was digitally enhanced to distinguish between Padme and Queen Amidala.
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.
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.
Qui-Gon Jinn's communicator is a redecorated Sensor Excel Razor for Women.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The word lightsaber is never used in the film. When Anakin talks to Qui-Gon he calls it a "laser sword".
EASTER EGG: In the "Options" menu, key in 11 enter 3 enter 8 enter you will see bloopers mostly of R2-D2 falling during various takes of the film.
At the time of the film's release, the producers ran a disinformation campaign to suggest that Natalie Portman played both Padme 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.
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).
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.
The sound effect when Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber is kicked down the reactor shaft towards the end of the movie, is the same sound effect heard when Luke Skywalker throws his lightsaber away in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) when he tells the Emperor that he is a Jedi.
Darth Maul only speaks a total of two lines.
In the galactic senate scene when Queen Amidala is asking a vote of no confidence and the whole senate are on the feet shouting, in the lower right corner you can see that they are E.T. species (as in movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)).
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.
The movie was shipped to theaters as "The Doll House" to thwart piracy attempts.
Scenes of straightforward dialog maybe comprised of up to 6 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."
A few USC students took the Japanese Laserdisc & 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: The starship Enterprise from Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) can be seen briefly amongst the traffic flying around Coruscant.
The name used by the Queen while in disguise (and, later, after her term as Queen ends), "Padme", is the Sanskrit word for "lotus". "Yoda" is also derived from the Sanskrit word for "warrior".
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).
George Lucas made a similar deal as he did in the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). Both Lucas and Fox Studios 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.
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."
Dates in Star Wars are based around the Battle of Yavin (in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)):
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 at the start of the movie. 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.
Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Morgan Freeman and Kurt Russell were considered for the part of Qui-Gon Jinn.
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 that Qui-Gon tampered with it to land on blue.
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).
Tests were conducted to see if Yoda could be realized digitally but it was determined that the technology was not up to scratch. A CG model of Yoda was nevertheless created, but only used in one shot, a long shot incidentally, during the scene on Naboo near the end where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda discuss Anakin's future.
According to the Blu-ray commentary, the scene where Padme and Anakin first talk is the one that was used to audition potential Anakin actors. The crew also states that Jake Lloyd himself did not like filming this particular scene.
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.
Darth Maul's "double-bladed" lightsaber design was borrowed from the 1996 comic book series "Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War".
Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, is the nephew of Denis Lawson, who played Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles in 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).
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".
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.
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).
The special effects teams creating the podrace studied NASCAR crash footage extensively to assure accuracy in the crashes.
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 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999).
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).
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.
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).
The blue haired slave girl seen beside Jabba the Hutt before the pod race is wearing the same slave costume worn by Leia Organa in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).
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).
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.
Jabba the Hutt's full name is Jabba Desilijic Tiure.
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.
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.
C3P0 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 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.
Kenneth Branagh was originally considered for the part of the younger Obi-Wan Kenobi.
After the first lap of the podrace, Watto and Sebulba speak Finnish saying, "Thank You" and "You're Welcome".
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.
Ian McDiarmid was surprised when George Lucas approached him 16 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 prequel films
EASTER EGG: If you highlight the THX logo in the Language Selection page on the DVD and press 11 enter 3 enter 8 with the remote you will access a hidden blooper reel.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
Qui-Gon's description of Mos Espa is almost the same, if not the same word for word, as Obi-Wan's description of Mos Eisley in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
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 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.
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.
Director 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.
Ewan McGregor was cast from a shortlist of fifty actors, all of whom had to be compared to pictures of young Alec Guinness.
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 Greblieps (Spielberg spelled backwards.)
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.
The Neimodians were originally to be computer generated creatures, but to save costs 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 movement.
In scenes where Padme and Queen Amidala appear together, Natalie Portman is Padme, while Keira Knightley is Sabe, one of the handmaidens disguised as the Queen.
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).
Richard Armitage appears in this film and can be seen standing beside Natalie Portman at the scene where the Naboo guards use the ascension guns to climb to the window above.
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.
George Lucas cast Natalie Portman after seeing her in Léon: The Professional (1994) and Beautiful Girls (1996).
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.
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"
Almost 12 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).
Among the props in the background aboard the ship as the group leaves Tatooine are three Hewlett-Packard Inkjet cartridges.
Anthony Daniels expressed dissatisfaction with the final cut of the film.
WILHELM SCREAM: during the shooting in the hangar when a guard is shot
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).
Darth Maul has a total of ten horns on his head.
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.
Roman Coppola (Naboo guard) and his sister Sofia Coppola (Handmaiden Sache) made their film debuts in The Godfather (1972), on which George Lucas was an assistant editor.
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).
This is the only Star Wars picture in which Anthony Daniels does not provide the movements of C3P0. Instead they were performed by puppeteer Michael Lynch
The dress Amidala is wearing when she addresses the Senate is modeled after a Mongolian garment worn by nobility.
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 first Star Wars film to be released on DVD (October 2001. Over a year after its release on VHS).
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.
Colored Q-Tips were photographed on a miniature stadium set in order to provide the background spectators during the pod race sequence.
The "water" cascading over the falls in the Naboo capital city was actually salt.
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.
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).
The name "Jar Jar" was created by George Lucas's son.
Of this film's 133 minute running time, only 10 to 15 minutes contain no special effects.
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.
Queen Amidala's throne-room dress took eight weeks to design.
Two Wookiees 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.
Darth Vader's breath can be heard at the end of the credits.
Early treatments of the film originally 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 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.
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.
The planet Naboo is heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance design and architecture, and the stadium where the pod race takes place is based upon Roman designs of the early Christian era.
Sebulba's condemnation of Anakin being a slave is hypocritical. According to his backstory, Sebulba was once a slave himself.
Ray Park's voice is dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz.
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).
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).
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).
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.
Despite the rumor that the young Anakin's alien friend is a young Greedo he is actually known as Wald.
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.
Theatres 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.
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).
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)
The planet "Tatooine" was named after the town Tataouine in Tunisia. Close to that town took place the shooting of the scenes of "Mos Espa" in July 1997.
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.
Tim Roth and Harry Connick Jr. were considered for the part of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Steven Spielberg visited the stage at London during set building when he was shooting Saving Private Ryan (1998).
The Neimodian's commercial culture and heavy robes were based on ancient Chinese merchants.
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, Capt. Nemo. According to other sources, however, the race was named for sci-fi icon Leonard Nimoy.
George Lucas based Chancellor Valorum on Bill Clinton, calling him "a good man, but he's beleaguered".
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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.
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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 for the restraining bolts on droids.
Contrary to popular belief, the city where Qui-Gon discovers Anakin is not Mos Eisley, but another city called Mos Espa.
Every film in the series begins with a shot of a star field moving to a ship. This movie opens with a transport ship headed for a Trade Federation ship.
A puppeteer dressed in a colour closely 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.
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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. 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.
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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".
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When Yoda agrees that Anakin will be Obi-Wan's apprentice, a dragon can be seen out the window, flying in the sky.
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Kyle MacLachlan was considered to play Qui Gon Jinn.
The first movie directed by George Lucas since the original Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), a gap of over 22 years.
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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.
In a scene in the Skywalker home, George Lucas digitally altered Jake Lloyd's eyes to look in a different direction momentarily.
Jake Lloyd retired from acting in 2001, citing bullying on the part of classmates and the stress of doing up to 60 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. However, an interview with a Star Wars fan site has confirmed that he's mellowed out since then and contrary to popular belief, he does not hate Star Wars after all the bullying.
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Ewan McGregor recalled that his performance in the film consisted of 'walking into rooms and looking up'.
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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.
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George Lucas originally wanted Sammo Hung Kam-Bo to be the lightsaber fight choreographer.
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.
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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).
Ron Magid commented that "it's easier to spot the few hundred shots that don't feature any CG work at all than the nearly 2,000 shots that do."
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 in the village 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".
Terence Stamp disliked working on the film. He declined to reprise his role in the sequels, saying that "Actors prefer to work with actors".
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Reportedly, after a lightsaber scene, Ewan McGregor could be overheard muttering, "'Do I want to be in Star Wars?' Fuck yeah!"
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The first film to be mixed and encoded in Dolby Digital Surround EX.
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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.
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Several crew members and actors had recurring or multiple supporting roles in the film. Among them Jerome Blake played a number of 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).
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Pernilla August, a veteran of Swedish cinema, was chosen after auditioning with Liam Neeson. She was afraid of being rejected because of her accent.
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Jabba the Hutt is notably different from his previous appearance in VI.
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.
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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).
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Dominic West also had an additional role as a Naboo officer but that scene was deleted.
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Michael Angarano auditioned for the role of young Anakin, and was one of the three finalists along with Jake Lloyd, who won the role.
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.
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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 bluescreen. 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.
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Kelly Macdonald was in the running to play Queen Amidala.
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Recordings of sound designer Ben Burtt's baby daughter's cry were used for the sounds of an underwater sea monster on Naboo.
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This was the final Star Wars film to be shot on 35mm film until Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015).
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Nine R2-D2 models were created; one was for Kenny Baker to be dropped into, seven were built by ILM and featured two wheelchair motors capable of moving 440 pounds (200 kg), 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.
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Keira Knightley's parents tried to convince her not to audition, but the teenage actress still sought a role given she was a Star Wars fan.
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Keira Knightley reported to have "cried every single day" due to finding the wardrobe uncomfortable.
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As Sofia Coppola prepared the script for her directorial debut 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".
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Regarding some rumours 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.
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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.
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There were rumors that Larisa Oleynik was considered for the role of Padmé before Natalie Portman was officially cast.
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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).
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In November 2015, Ron Howard confirmed that he, Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg were approached by George Lucas to direct the film.
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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.
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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 blue screen, and shots that would be composed using CGI.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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;[44] 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 "translat[e] 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.
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Nute Gunray's Thai accent was chosen after George Lucas and Rick McCallum listened to various languages to decide how the Neimodians would speak.
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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 armour.
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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 15 minutes to apply.
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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.
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The cameras were fitted with data capture models to provide technical data for the CGI artists.
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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.
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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".
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Liam Neeson was so eager to be in the film that he signed on without having read the script.
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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 each side of the main instrument binnacle.
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During the credits Jabba the Hut is listed as being played by 'himself'
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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).
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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.
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Cameo 

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.
Sofia Coppola:  as handmaiden Saché.
Rick McCallum:  producer appears on the right in a floppy wide-brim hat when Queen Amidala meets Senator Palpatine.
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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."
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Ben Burtt:  sound engineer appears to the left of Rick McCallum (with goatee).
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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.)

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Darth Maul only blinks once throughout the film. This is mostly because the contact lenses that Ray Park wore made it difficult to blink and Park liked the idea of a villain who never stops staring. He blinks when he is sliced by Obi-Wan Kenobi
According to revised Star Wars canon, Darth Maul did not die when Obi-Wan sliced him in two. While falling down the pit, Maul grabbed at a maintenance hatch and swung into a disposal tube. The impact of landing knocked him out. Later, garbage collection droids dumped him into a trash bin which was shipped to an offworld refuse dump. Maul existed there for twelve years, a broken half-mad cripple, until he was eventually rescued by his brother, Savage Oppress.
This is the only film in the series in which the top-credited actor (Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn) plays a non-recurring character, and in which the top-credited character dies (until Episode VII - The Force Awakens). Also the only film in the prequel series that does not give Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) the top credit.
The film contains no acting credit for the character of Darth Sidious, although he is played by Ian McDiarmid, who also plays Senator (and then later, Chancellor) Palpatine
The final shot of principal photography was, appropriate enough, Qui-Gon Jinn's death.
One of Darth Maul's few lines is "At last we will reveal ourselves to the Jedi. At last we will have our revenge." It is never mentioned in this, or subsequent films, for what he is specifically seeking revenge.
Obi-Wan's reaction when Darth Maul finishes off Qui-Gon is the same reaction that Luke in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) when Darth Vader finishes off the Now Older Obi-Wan.
During the battle between Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi against Darth Maul, A total of 9 strikes are landed without the use of the lightsaber blade. Darth Maul lands a kick on each Jedi in the main hanger, Darth Maul lands a kick against Obi-Wan causing him to fall to a lower platform, Qui-Gon lands an elbow and punch combination to knock Darth Maul to a lower platform, Darth Maul uses a kick as a counterattack after Qui-Gon jumps from a lower platform, Darth Maul uses the hilt of his lightsaber before fatally stabbing Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan lands a kick on Darth Maul after breaking his lightsaber in half, Darth Maul lands a kick on Obi-Wan causing him to completely flip over and land on his feet, and Darth Maul uses a force push to knock Obi-Wan into the chasm.
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).
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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