MARIN COUNTY, California — When Luke Skywalker found himself in need of answers, he sought the elderly, gray-haired Yoda. Although the Jedi master seemingly spoke in fragmented Zen gibberish, sidestepping questions he didn't want to answer, his power and wisdom soon shone brighter than any lightsaber. "Always two there are," Yoda instructed. "A master and an apprentice."
So it was with great humility that MTV News took on the role of Padawan apprentice while seeking answers from the master of the "Star Wars" universe, series creator/director/writer George Lucas. After making a long trek to a secluded room of his Skywalker Ranch, we posed the questions that will be left unanswered, even after the final "Star Wars" movie lands in theaters this month. We feared that this gray-haired creature with the wry smile would feed us some line about looking within ourselves for the answers, but Lucas was surprisingly candid, and even kind enough to not have our memories wiped on the way out the door.
Those who have seen all six movies now know that there is a direct link between the Clone Troopers of the first three episodes and the Storm Troopers of the three that follow. So are all those soldiers from the original trilogy actually just the same guy? "Yes," Lucas said. Fair enough, master — but if that's true, then why do the troopers in the earlier movies possess different voices?
"Well, yeah, some of the voices have been changed, um, to make it more consistent," he said, raising an eyebrow at the precociousness of the Padawan. Indeed, Lucas has gone back and changed the voices of the Storm Troopers during recent re-edits for the special editions. "Those particular two guys that you're talking about — which I know about, which is a very good performance — the idea is that over time, there were new clone strains introduced, and then they even conscripted guys to be Storm Troopers. So it's not just purely clones: It started out as clones, but then it got diluted over the years as they found out they could shanghai guys [more cheaply] than they could build clones."
Impressive, as Darth Vader might say — most impressive. So then, if many of the Storm Troopers are indeed photocopies of Jango Fett, does that mean that when Boba was on Cloud City, he could have turned to any of them and asked them to take off their masks, only to find his dad standing there?
"Well, there's like a 50/50 chance," Lucas answered. "Not necessarily — he could be anybody, he could be the Mock 2 or the Mock 3, or he could just be some poor guy who got shanghaied."
Well, that answers some questions about the 19-year gap between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope," but whatever happened to those post-"Return of the Jedi" movies? When the original trilogy was in production, news outlets quoted Lucas as saying he would make nine Star Wars movies, with three taking place after the death of Anakin Skywalker. "Well," insisted the man whose plaid shirt and jeans have become as symbolic a costume as a Jedi robe, "that was sort of a figment of the press' imagination."
"I sort of played into it," he admitted, "but I probably shouldn't have. The joke I said was, 'It would be fun to come back when everybody's 70 and make a sequel.' But I realized when everybody's 70, I'd also be 70. That idea, now that I'm 60, isn't quite so appealing."
So if we'll never see it onscreen, what does happen to Princess Leia and Han Solo after they fall in love?
"Han and Leia probably did get married," Lucas conceded. "They settled down. She became a senator, and they got a nice little house with a white picket fence. Han Solo is out there cooking burgers on the grill. Is that a movie? I don't think so."
That explains the fates of two of the most beloved characters in that galaxy far, far away, but whatever happened to the most despicable, repellent creature we had the displeasure of meeting in the "Star Wars" films? We refer, of course, not to ruthless killers like IG-88 or Zuckuss, but to that stumbling buffoon-turned-politician Jar Jar Binks.
"He goes back to Naboo and he's a representative," Lucas said of the controversial character, who is barely glimpsed in "Episode III." "He probably stays on the council, he's probably in the senate, because it becomes completely worthless. Senators are just for show, which they talk about in 'Episode IV.' Actually, in 'Episode IV' they get disbanded, so Jar Jar probably goes home to his wife and kids."
Little baby Jar Jars? That is an image far more horrifying than anything Luke Skywalker found in the cave. With the Jerry Lewis of outer space surviving the Clone Wars, does Lucas have any intention of inserting the character into future updates of episodes IV through VI? "Stories aren't told that way; everybody's there for an actual reason," he reasoned. "People don't just wander in and out of movies for no reason."
True enough, but "Star Wars" fans have been known in the past to revel in the minutiae of such insignificant background wanderers as Hammerhead ... er ... Momaw Nadon (our apologies to the Nadon family). Lucas plans to indulge such eccentrics via a TV show he hopes to begin when finished with his "Revenge" promotional duties. "The show is based on incidental characters, really minor characters in the saga part of it. None of the main characters are in it. It is live-action, and that's about all I can say at this time."
Uh-oh, it seems like the "Star Wars" master is trying to instruct us in the ways of evil: avoidance, non-specifics, fueled by a shortness of breath reminiscent of Darth Vader himself. Could this interview be taking a turn toward the dark side? There can only be time for one final question: In "Episode III," Emperor Palpatine gives Anakin Skywalker his new, evil moniker seemingly out of the blue. How did the lightning-fingered lowlife come up with the name?
"When I started out, it was Darth Vader," Lucas replied. "It meant dark father. And then I started calling everybody dark something or other."
Um, OK. But that wasn't the question, master. We aren't wondering how you came up with the name, but how Palpatine did.
"I am the Emperor!" Lucas said, laughing and sticking out his hand for a goodbye handshake. A brief smile, followed by a quick exit, will have to suffice — if there's one thing a "Star Wars" fan knows, it's that you should never offer up your right hand in the presence of a Sith.
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