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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Fans get Star Wars preview
Ewan McGregor with Darth Vader and Storm Troopers
McGregor was joined by Darth Vader and Stormtroopers
Fans joined the big names from the new Star Wars film when 11 charity screenings took place simultaneously across North America on Sunday.

Actors Ewan McGregor and Samuel L Jackson were at the Los Angeles preview, Natalie Portman attended the New York event, while director George Lucas was in San Francisco.

George Lucas
George Lucas signed autographs for fans in San Francisco
Every screening had seats set aside for disadvantaged children, and raised money for local charities.

In San Francisco, almost 800 fans paid $500 (£340) each for the chance to see the movie four days before it was due to go on general release.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones is the fifth instalment in the epic Star Wars series, and is one of the most hotly-anticipated films of the year.

The film's Stormtroopers guarded the red carpet when McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jackson, who plays Mace Windu, walked down it outside Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theater.

A hairy Chewbacca was among the characters to parade outside the San Francisco cinema where Lucas spoke about the California Mentor Foundation, the charity that was receiving funds from that screening.

Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman attended New York's Tribeca Film Festival
"Mentors are very important to the Jedi program," he said, referring to the honourable knights from his film.

"I think mentoring is a very important part of bringing our youth into the future. They need someone to help them through their formative years."

In the film, Moulin Rouge and Trainspotting star McGregor plays the mentor to Anakin Skywalker, played by Hayden Christensen, who strays from the path and turns into the evil Darth Vader.

The original Obi-Wan Kenobi was played by Alec Guinness, and McGregor said he had been studying Guinness's early films.

In New York, the film's Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman, attended the screening that closed the Tribeca Film Festival, organised by Robert De Niro.

Screenings also took place in Boston, Chicago, Toronto and Dallas.

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