Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Star Wars, more odds-n-ends

Jedi Missing In Action
The last Set Diary talked about Shaak Ti and her on-again/off-again appearance in Episode III. Despite the best efforts of the Creature Shop's makeup crew and Orli Shoshan, the colorful character was ultimately cut from her more visible scenes in the film.

Likewise, from reading the early Set Diaries from May and June 2003, fans of Barriss Offee, Luminara Unduli, and Bultar Swan were looking forward to their favorite Jedi returning for on-screen action. As the story of Episode III evolved, it wasn't meant to be.

The three actresses behind these characters -- Nalini Krishan, Mary Oyaya and Mimi Daraphet -- did show up at Fox Studios Australia to undergo makeup and wardrobe tests. At the time, the shooting script was still being finalized. Barriss was in it, as was Luminara. Though Bultar Swan wasn't specifically mentioned in the script, there was enough Jedi action that calling her in for fittings was prudent preparation.

Then the shooting schedule arrived. It became apparent that the tests were premature. Almost none of the Order 66 material was slated to be shot during the 60 days of principal
photography. Ki-Adi-Mundi on Mygeeto was scheduled, as was Obi-Wan on Utapau, and Plo Koon's cockpit scene.

That was it -- the rest would have to happen during pickup photography.

In the script, the Order 66 scene played a bit differently. There was no Saleucami. There was no Cato Neimoidia. Instead, we had more cases of multiple Jedi on a single planet, rather than the one Jedi-per-planet scenario that opened up the galaxy considerably in the finished product.
Barriss Offee was backing up Aayla Secura on Felucia.

The script describes:
Another Jedi, BARRISS OFFEE, is cutting down a patrol of DROIDS when a CLONE WALKING TANK and SEVEN CLONE TROOPERS round a corner and blast the Jedi away.

This was at least rendered in animatics, but it was cut at that stage. Also joining Barriss on Felucia was Adi Gallia. This is the reason for the splash page graphic of the Hyperspace webstrip series Reversal of Fortune having Aayla, Gallia and Barriss standing side-by-side. Originally, they were a team, but that team split during postproduction.

The shot of Aayla Secura marching through the underbrush was actually a few seconds longer. In the finished film, she starts the shot walking. Originally, she was to have been standing still, talking to Adi Gallia (or rather, Stass Allie) who was on a speeder bike. After the bike rockets away, Aayla begins her march.

Again, from the script:
Three Clone Barc speeder bikes race through the forest. A Jedi, ADI GALLIA, is in the lead. The TWO CLONES following her drop back and blast her, causing her to crash in a huge EXPLOSION.

This Jedi was renamed Stass Allie, and this action was moved from Felucia to Saleucami, the last planet to be added to Episode III.

Before Saleucami became a desert world marked by strange bloated plants, it was described as a "bridge world," an odd planet with bridges spanning enormous gaps and inverted skylines suspended from those bridges. This world further evolved with the bridges becoming more like hammocks, and the cities resting on top of the curves. The planet was also renamed Cato Neimoidia, and became the site of Plo Koon's death.

As reported in a Set Diary, Plo Koon was originally to have a line of dialogue: "There they are. Land on the nearest platform." Not exactly the most inspirational of last words.* EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE AN ALTERNATIVE LAST WORDS, BELOW.

In the script, he too gets blasted away by clones, but the screenplay describes the action as happening on Mygeeto, the same planet Ki-Adi-Mundi is on. EDITOR'S NOTE: IS ANYONE TRACKING ALL THIS, BECAUSE I'VE NOW GOTTEN COMPLETELY LOST.

This, of course, changed, but it is the reason why the clone commander who takes him out was never named. All the other clones stationed on Order 66 worlds have names -- Gree on Kashyyyk, Neyo on Saleucami, Bly on Felucia, and Cody on Utapau. Cato Neimoidia's clone never got an identifier because Sidious' order was originally directed to Bacara, when the action was to take place on Mygeeto.

For those lamenting the loss of Episode II Jedi returning in Episode III, there's some tiny consolation.

Some of the distant Jedi getting blasted inside the Temple were taken from bluescreen elements of arena Jedi from Geonosis... so you never know. Your favorite supporting Jedi may be in there. Dying, sure, but he or she may at least be in the movie. EDITOR'S NOTE: OR MAYBE THEY SURVIVED THE INITIAL PURGE!

Quinlan Vos, of course, deserves special mention.

It's rare when a character or element crosses the gulf that divides the films and the expanded universe, and Vos made it so close. His apprentice, Aayla Secura, made the transition in Episode II, and it was with a smile that I read the Episode III script, describing Quinlan Vos on Kashyyyk. Who was going to play him, I wondered. In my giddiness to spread the word, I dropped the hint that an expanded universe character was slated to be in the film. Oh, I tried to couch it with the phrase "is slated," since I knew being in the script doesn't necessarily mean being in the movie. But perhaps I should have been even more cautious, since a possibility transforms into a sure thing when read by someone with enough hope.

Quinlan Vos was never cast. Costume Archivist and Supervisor Gillian Libbert was putting together a costume folder for him -- a collection of fabric swatches and notes -- and with my help, she gathered a lot of reference imagery of Vos from his various comics appearances. She wanted to recommend Michael Mooney, the Assistant Costume Designer, to play the role. It wasn't an acting role, but did require someone in good shape who fit the look.

Here's what was scripted:

The Jedi QUINLAN VOS is riding on top of a CLONE TURBO TANK. The main cannon of a second tank slowly swings to point right at him and a COUPLE OF CLONES. The cannon fires, and QUINLAN VOS and the CLONES disappear in a huge explosion.

That's some pretty cold stuff. It does explain why the turbo tank was developed in such detail, since it was to be the setting of Vos' death. The scene made it to animatic, but was obviously never completed.

As for Luminara, she too was scheduled to be on Kashyyyk.

As the script describes:
A Jedi, LUMINARA UNDULI, talks with EIGHT CLONE OFFICERS standing in a circle around her. Suddenly they reveal their hidden pistols and blast her before she can react.

This, too, was cut from the film, though the character of Luminara stayed. All that was needed from her was a single, distant shot, so rather than fly the original actress from Sydney for an afternoon of bluescreen shooting, she was instead played by a local. Art Department Supervisor Fay David played her for the one shot. Similar replacements were done for Unduli and Shaak Ti in Episode II (that's not Mary Oyaya jumping aboard the gunship on Geonosis, for example, but rather one of Rob Coleman's animators).

The fluctuating Jedi count played havoc on those of us tasked with tracking which Jedi was where. That was felt the most on the Jedi Council. To this day, the Episode III roster is still a bit hazy. The presumption was that Shaak Ti's death opened up a chair on the Council to be filled by Anakin. But when Shaak Ti didn't die at the start of the movie, that changed the makeup of the Council. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. GOOD POINT. I HADN'T EVEN THOUGHT OF ALL THAT AS A EU CONTINUITY ISSUE, JUST A FILM ISSUE. STUPID QUESTION (AND ONE FOR WHICH I MIGHT LOSE MY QUEENDOM) --- ARE THERE ALWAYS THE SAME NUMBER OF JEDI ON THE COUNCIL? HOW MANY IS IT?

From on-set principal photography of the Council scene, we knew we had Yoda, Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Plo Koon, Saesee Tiin, Stass Allie, and Agen Kolar on the Council. Add back Shaak Ti, and that brings the total to nine.

ILM created a new Ongree Jedi for the council scene (named Coleman Kcaj, strangely enough) bringing the total to ten. Kit Fisto was added in postproduction, which brought us to eleven. Add Anakin, you have twelve.

But that math kept fluctuating. At one point, an empty little tub chair belonging to a mysterious Jedi Master was to be seen in the film, and there was a serious contender to fill it. When the Jedi Council scene was arranged in such a way as to see a tub chair on screen, George Lucas wanted a Ratts Tyerell-type alien sitting there. It was even modeled and animated for the one shot. Had this shot been completed, that little Jedi would have been Tsui Choi, a character originally from Dark Horse Comics.

On October 19, 2004, I emailed Rob Coleman reference illustrations of Choi.

So, even though I knew Quinlan was out of the picture, I remained quiet when asked about expanded universe characters appearing in Episode III. I really thought and hoped that little Tsui Choi had a real shot at being in Revenge of the Sith.

* Matt Sloan, the good-humored man behind the Plo Koon mask, had no shortage of last lines for the Jedi Master. My favorite was, "You want us to order 66? Order 66 of what?"

Star Wars Galactic Heroes Backpack Danglers Set
Price: $12.99

Star Wars Galactic Heroes Danglers! Great for attaching to backpacks, or can be used as keychains. Set of 4 individually polybagged danglers includes: 1x Luke Skywalker, 1x Han Solo, 1x Boba Fett, 1x Yoda (Subject to Change).

The coolest characters from Star Wars are brought to life in "mini" cool chunky style!EDITOR'S NOTE: HARUMPH. WHY IS IT THAT MY FIGGER HAS NEVER BEEN REFERRED TO AS 'COOL CHUNKY'? Each easy to stand figure is approximately 2-inches tall.


This Episode IV Joe Johnston illustration defines the shape and detail of the Millennium Falcon's powerful quad laser cannons.

Clone Commander Cody (Temuera Morrison) has served with General Obi-Wan Kenobi on many battlefronts.

With all four lightsaber blades extended, Grievous presses his advantage.

Harrison Ford readies himself for an action photo-shoot of Han Solo.

Brother against Brother: Obi-Wan and Anakin (Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen) tangle in an abandoned corridor of the Mustafar complex.

Time Magazine 1997


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