She's charismatic, mysterious and one of the most beautiful women in any galaxy.
It seemed like a perfect fit, then, when Chinese actress Bai Ling was cast in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." She told the world that she'd be playing Senator Bana Breemu, a reportedly tattooed, skimpily clad character who helped to put the mind of Padme (Natalie Portman) at ease. After prominent roles in films like "She Hate Me" and "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow," it looked like Bai Ling was ready to take the next step.
By now, however, fans have realized that she's virtually nonexistent in "Sith." She can be seen quite thoroughly, however, in this month's Playboy magazine, where she poses with a suggestively erect lightsaber on the issue's cover, beneath the words "Star Wars' Sexy Alien." It's enough to make Jar Jar Binks blush, so naturally, geeky Web sites have been buzzing for weeks with conspiracy tales involving an ostracized actress, a furious George Lucas and Hugh Hefner lording over it all like Palpatine dangling the dark side in front of a new protégé.
While telling her fans how to find her in the movie, the she couldn't help but laugh. "I think you have to use binoculars, and it's like green when you see me."
While she stops short of saying that her scenes were cut because of her collaboration with Playboy, the actress does admit she shot a great deal more for "Sith" than what was actually used. "George Lucas has all the rights to change it, cut it, for whatever reason he wants to," she said, adding, "but I believe it's for the artistic reason, because he's an artist."
Bai Ling said she was conflicted when approached by the famous men's magazine to exploit her "Star Wars" notoriety. "I was a little hesitant because of 'Star Wars,' more like for young kids and that kind of thing," she said. "In the back of my head, a little bit of hesitation there, but I thought opportunities come to you for a certain reason, so, in a longer time and bigger picture, maybe it's good."
"It's life," she philosophized, "sometimes it's raining, sometimes sunny."
Still, she insists that being a part of two enormous brand names is sure to bring her some kind of notoriety, even if it is the same kind that came to Carrie Fisher when she allowed herself to be put in a metal bikini and tied to Jabba the Hutt. "I'm very grateful, because I experienced the whole experience. It's, of course, Playboy and 'Star Wars' ... two of the biggest icons of American culture. So for me — I came from communist China — to experience those is a very, very lucky gift."
Although the accounts of Bai Ling and Lucas have been known to conflict over the last few weeks, the actress said she would love to reunite with her director and become a part of the upcoming "Star Wars" television show, which Lucas says will concentrate on background characters.
"I would like to be in it, because I just feel like he's a genius, whatever he does, it's like he reduces the universe in his films. He's just got ... a quality ... I feel like one person's dream can change the world, can bring people together, to experience something artistic and beautiful."
In the meantime, Bai Ling is keeping herself busy with three film projects and the hope that her work might come back to life for the "Sith" DVD. "I think the scenes that I was involved in are quite important," she insisted. "It's like a war scene and disgusting, it's kind of important."
Maybe Lucas and Hefner could get together to work on the deleted scenes — after all, it is the first "Star Wars" movie to be rated PG-13.
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