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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 17:36 GMT 18:36 UK
George Lucas: 'I'm still 25'
Samuel L Jackson and George Lucas at the West End prèmiere
Lucas insists the current trilogy will be his last Star Wars films

Star Wars creator George Lucas has revealed how digital techniques and a streak of youthful exuberance inspired Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

Lucas insisted the latest instalment would make sense even for people who had not seen Star Wars: Episode I - the Phantom Menace.

I'm really telling a six-part story - there's a lot of things that have to fit in there that have to do with Episode VI and Episode IV

George Lucas
Speaking under the pink marble and gold leaf of London's Dorchester Hotel, Lucas said the movie was both part of a series and self-contained.

"My primary concern is to make the two hour movie work for the audience.

"Beyond that, I'm really telling a six-part story - there's a lot of things that have to fit in there that have to do with Episode VI and Episode IV.

"Even though the experience is richer if you've seen Episode I, you don't need to have seen Episode I to make it work."

'Older perspective'

He said the combination of his youth when he conceived the story in the 1970s and his perspective now helped shape Attack of the Clones.

He joked: "I'm still 25. I wrote it 30 years ago. I had the youthful exuberance and now the older wisdom from raising kids and going through the battle of life.

"As you get older you are able to have more perspective on what you are doing."

I treat what I have to do with a reverence and fandom

Samuel L Jackson
But he insisted the current trilogy would be his last Star Wars films as he wanted to pursue other projects.

Hayden Christensen told reporters that playing Anakin Skywalker - who eventually turns into Darth Vader - had not meant diving into the "dark side" of his personality.

"It is just pretending. Playing Anakin was an amazing self-discovery process.

"Other than that I keep it hidden. It is all an act."

Yoda relationship

And the previously unknown from Vancouver admitted: "When I first got the part, the reality of playing a role so important to the saga was very daunting."

Pulp Fiction star Samuel L Jackson admitted seeing his role as Jedi knight Mace Windu through the eyes of a fan had helped him in his "close personal relationship with Yoda".

"I have a lot of respect for fans, like myself, of the genre and the saga. I treat what I have to do with a reverence and fandom."

I blinked when I did Empire Strikes back - if that hadn't worked I would have been in deep problems

George Lucas
Jackson said the example of Shaolin monks from Hong Kong kung fu movies had informed his take on a Jedi knight, with characters meditating "like most men are supposed to do in monk-like situations".

But Lucas revealed that despite their monastic regime, Jedi were permitted to have sex.

"Jedi Knights aren't celibate - the thing that is forbidden is attachments - and possessive relationships."

Vivid imagination

British Lord of the Rings star Christopher Lee, who plays Count Dooku in Episode II, shrugged off the challenge of acting out fight scenes with invisible partners, added in latter with "blue screen technology".

"You have to have a pretty vivid imagination because he isn't there."

But he said he was proud to have been part of "cinema history... and survived it".

Lucas also spoke of his debt to the improvements in digital technology since the first trilogy of Star Wars films.

"The real changes come when we shifted to digital.

Own money

"The one thing most people forget is all art forms are bound by technology - it plays a huge role in what you can do."

The conventional studio system would never have allowed him to make the films he had, Lucas insisted.

Speaking about the risk of using large amounts of his own money, Lucas insisted: "If I had been in a studio that film would never have been made. A six-part story - studios aren't interested in that.

"I blinked when I did Empire Strikes back. If that hadn't worked I would have been in deep... problems."

Recounting how he felt "burned out" after the first three films, he insisted that he had started then with the most entertaining part of any story, the middle.



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