Looking Back at How Lucasfilm Revealed the Star Wars Episode I Cast


ep7630This is the week leading up to the annual Star Wars Day on May the 4th, and most people are expecting some sort of Star Wars Episode VII casting announcement this week. The recent sightings of Original Trilogy cast members in London is only fueling this belief, and it’s generally thought that we’ll hear something this Friday as that’s the day that Lucasfilm generally likes to post big announcements on StarWars.com.

While movies have changed a lot since the 1999 release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, looking at how Lucasfilm revealed the cast of that film can gives us an idea of what to expect this week. Hopefully, if people pay attention to this, it’ll temper some expectations of what we may or may not hear this Friday.

We actually started to hear murmurs of of the cast (specifically Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman) as early as the first half of 1997 when the Special Editions were still in theaters. They weren’t officially announced until later, but when Lucasfilm did announce the cast we did not see a single name of any character that wasn’t already known, aside from Shmi as she was Anakin’s mother:

The only names we learned were of existing characters...

The only names we learned were of existing characters…

This is likely what we’ll see this week if there is any sort of announcement at all. For returning characters we’ll obviously get their names, but anyone who is playing a new character they’ll likely give vague descriptions in order to protect JJ’s Mystery Box. It’ll then be up to Bothans at Pinewood to fill in the gaps until Lucasfilm decides to confirm character names. We’ll also learn names from toy leaks, much like we did with the Rebels characters.

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