The Prequel Trilogy kicked off a new era for an entire generation of Star Wars fans. The “Prequel Kids” tend to be diehard and love this era of the franchise. George Lucas refused to be predictable. He chose to go in a completely different direction from what was expected in these films.
The movies spun off multiple books, comics, and shows like The Clone Wars and influenced the storytelling of Star Wars Rebels. Love or hate them, they are an essential part of the foundation of this franchise. Here are 19 interesting facts you might not know about the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy.
1. Advancements In Technology
George Lucas revealed in 1980 that he had plans for nine Star Wars movies but dropped the idea of the Prequels for various reasons ranging from stress and family obligations. When he noticed that CGI had advanced enough to pull off his vision, he wanted to go forward with the Prequels.
2. The Special Editions
Lucas got to test some of this technology before. He tweaked the Original Trilogy for the 1997 Special Edition rereleases to celebrate the series' 20th anniversary. Using technology to update the movies to match the vision he always intended, inspiration seized Lucas, and he decided to proceed with the Prequels.
3. Working Titles
Star Wars movies always have a working title while filming. The working titles of the Prequels were “The Doll House” for The Phantom Menace, “Jar Jar’s Big Adventure” for Attack of the Clones, and “The Bridge” for Revenge of the Sith.
4. Star Wars Is Political
Our real-world history and politics have always inspired Star Wars. For the Prequels, George Lucas continued this trend. Emperor Palpatine’s rise to power and rule as Chancellor was mirrored after Adolf Hitler, Julius Caesar, Napolean Bonaparte, and Richard Nixon. The Jedi Purge was modeled after the events of the Night of the Long Knives, while the fall of the Republic mirrors the fall of the Roman Empire.
5. Name That Tune
The title of The Phantom Menace is about Palpatine pulling his threads from the shadows. The celebration song at the end of the movie “Augie's Great Municipal Band” is the Emperor’s theme sped up and in a major key because it was a victory for him.
6. Return of the Director
Return of the Jedi’s director Richard Marquand wanted to direct one of the Prequel films, but tragically, he passed away before they went into production. Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and Ron Howard were all approached to direct The Phantom Menace, but all felt like it was “too daunting” of a project. They pushed Lucas to direct it himself, which he did, breaking a 22-year hiatus since A New Hope.
7. I Want My MTV
As with the Original Trilogy, John Williams returned to compose the soundtracks for the film. The song “Duel of the Fates” became one of the most popular themes from the Prequels. The music video for this song made the London Symphony Orchestra the only classical group to air on MTV’s show Total Request Live.
Samuel L. Jackson was initially cast in The Phantom Menace to play Grando Calrissian, the father of the Original Trilogy character Lando Calrissian. The idea was dropped for Jackson to play Mace Windu instead because of a tragic circumstance.
Jackson became Mace Windu after the death of rapper Tupac Shakur. Tupac read the script and was all but cast for the role of the Jedi Master, something he was incredibly excited for. Tragically, Tupac’s life was cut short when he was murdered in 1996. Jackson, who had worked with Tupac in the movie Juice, accepted the role, and the rumor is his choice to be bald in those films was in honor of his friend.
10. It’s Gonna Be Me
Attack of the Clones had its own ties to popular music. Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick from N*SYNC were given parts as Jedi and citizens of Naboo, though their scenes didn’t make the final cut. Still, when the news slipped out that the boy band was in the movie, Star Wars fans were upset, thinking the franchise was “selling out.”
11. Clone Lando
Dating back to The Empire Strikes Back, George Lucas had the idea of making Lando Calrissian a clone from the clone planet to tie in with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s line from A New Hope about fighting in the Clone Wars. This was changed to Kamino for Attack of the Clones.
12. A New Hollywood
Episode II helped push the technology of Hollywood more into the digital age. Lucas used the HDW-F900 digital camera that had a 24-frame system. Sony couldn’t build the camera in time for The Phantom Menace, so it was a specialty made for Attack of the Clones. The digital camera over traditional film made filming in the scorching Tunisian desert far easier.
13. Wiggle Those Ears!
To bring CGI Yoda to life in Attack of the Clones, the creators kept one piece of advice in mind: Make the CGI move like a puppet. The visual effects artist added details to the character, such as little things only puppeteer Frank Oz could do. For example, the puppet's ears would jiggle whenever Oz made Yoda talk. Oz consulted on the CGI to provide notes like this.
14. A Change of Location
Initially, New Zealand had been chosen as a primary filming location. Due to complications with another movie, the filming was moved to Australia instead. What was the other film that gave them so much trouble? That would be Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.
15. Just a Little Guy
For the final scenes of Revenge of the Sith, the design of the Darth Vader suit had to be tweaked while still trying to look proportional. This was because Hayden Christensen was considerably leaner and shorter than David Prowse, who originally played the body of Darth Vader in the Original Trilogy.
16. Papa Lucas
George Lucas makes a cameo in Revenge of the Sith as a Pantoran senator, Baron Notluwiski Papanoida. The cameo also has his daughter, Katie Lucas, playing the senator’s daughter Chi Eekway Papanoida. Katie portrayed multiple minor characters throughout the Prequel Trilogy and became a writer on the animated show The Clone Wars.
17. A Clone First
The series Obi-Wan Kenobi was the first time that Temuera Morrison, who played all the clones in the Prequels, wore clone trooper armor. All the clone troopers in the Prequels were CGI, with Morrison’s face on the digital models.
18. The Droid General
General Grievous's voice was originally cast as the legendary Gary Oldman, but due to conflicts, he stepped away from the project. Lucasfilm supervising sound editor Matthew Wood would take up the mantle of voicing the villain, a role he carried on into The Clone Wars.
19. Not For Dids
Because of the heavier topics, including the scenes of Order 66, Anakin’s burning, and Count Dooku’s gruesome death, Revenge of the Sith was the first Star Wars movie to receive a PG-13 rating. The previous films had all been rated PG.
Hope Mullinax is a freelance writer with over ten years of experience working for various publications. She’s the Site Expert at Dork Side of the Force, a Freelance News Writer for Collider, and the Animation Staff Writer at The Geeky Waffle. When she’s not writing, she loves on her cats, collects Pokémon cards, and rolls dice on For Light and Dice, a Star Wars TTRPG podcast.