The city planet of Coruscant was known as the capital of what was yet to become known as the “Old Republic”. The prequels play out over the backdrop of the falling of the Republic and the establishment of a new Empire, still controlled from Coruscant by Palpatine. In The Phantom Menace, however, these events are only starting to rear their heads as the bureaucrats and senators go about their busy lives, unaware of the plot that’s being hatched beneath their very noses. Our time on Coruscant in The Phantom Menace is relatively brief but does result in a few interesting bits that fall into the area of cut or altered scenes. Let’s take a look at some of these.
In the theatrical version of the film, when the Queen’s ship arrives on Coruscant, everyone is greeted by Senator Palpatine and Supreme Chancellor Valorum on the landing platform. After some short dialogue, we cut right to Palpatine’s Quarters, but how did everyone get there? By taxi, of course…Coruscant Taxi. You see these little buggers flying all over the place in almost every Coruscant scene – even in the Return of the Jedi Special Edition.
In the picture included here from the Episode I comic adaptation, you can see the taxi speeding off in the distance while Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi confer with Chancellor Valorum. I’m also including three “Behind the Scenes” pictures from this scene. Two are from the Episode I Insider’s Guide CD-ROM and the other was from Starwars.com.
In one of the photos, you can see Ahmed Best in his Jar Jar hat looking at Anakin and in the background you can see Palpatine, the Queen, and some handmaidens. The one with a kneeling Qui-Gon is a peculiar one, and I say that because it appears to be the scene where Qui-Gon is explaining to Anakin the nature of the Force; a scene which takes place later on in the film. That in itself is no big deal but notice that everyone else is over by the taxi (in the background) and it appears they are waiting for Anakin. Why are they there for this scene? I believe this picture is from the latter scene for a few reasons.
First, and most obvious, Ahmed Best appears to be standing outside the taxi and not in the front seat. He’d technically be standing in the sky, so it looks like the other cast members are just watching the filming of this later scene – probably after they had already filmed the platform/taxi stuff.
Also, R2-D2 is in the correct spot for this scene, which also leads right into another cut scene where R2-D2 falls over the edge of the platform and uses his booster jets to get back.
So here’s what I think happened here: They filmed these two scenes pretty much back to back. According to the shooting schedule there’s a one day difference between the scenes. Perhaps when they filmed the taxi scene (which was July 2, 1997) they tried to squeeze in a quick shoot or dress rehearsal for the next day’s shooting which was the scene where Obi-Wan says, “The boy is dangerous.” Perhaps they rearranged the schedule a bit and shot the scene right there. Who knows. Either way, I do think that this photo isn’t really from the taxi scene, but from the Qui-Gon/Anakin exchange later on in the film. I’m including it here just because it shows the taxi and the people in it.
In another photo, you can see the filming of the Coruscant landing platform sequence and if you look closely, you’ll see not only the taxi but the driver himself waiting for his passengers.
There are a few “finished” shots included here as well. The closeup of the taxi speeding away and the shot of the CG Jar Jar with Anakin and the driver are taken from Starwars.com. One picture shows off the taxi driver pretty well. He was previously seen on a Decipher CCG playing card where he even got a name: Rayno Vaca. Oh, and he also made a brief appearance in the Episode I PC Game.
As you probably know, this scene was not only featured on the Episode I DVD, but it was actually re-inserted BACK into the DVD version of the film! George Lucas liked it so much, he went ahead and gave the order to stick it back in there along with some more Pod Race footage. So I guess that makes this a “formerly” deleted scene.
To tie it all up, here is the scene as it reads in the Episode I Illustrated Screenplay:
PALPATINE starts to lead QUEEN AMIDALA and her RETINUE off the platform toward a waiting air taxi.
There is a question of procedure,
but I feel confident we can
JAR JAR and ANAKIN start to follow, then stop, noticing that OBI-WAN and QUI-GON are staying with the SUPREME CHANCELLOR. QUEEN AMIDALA waves to the duo to follow her. ANAKIN looks back to QUI-GON, and he nods to go ahead. ANAKIN and JAR JAR join the QUEEN, PALPATINE, PADMÉ, RABÉ, and EIRTAÉ in the taxi. PALPATINE gives the Gungan and the boy in the back of the taxi a skeptical look. JAR JAR leans over to ANAKIN.
Da Queens-a bein grossly nice,
mesa tinks. (he looks around)
VALORUM and the JEDI watch the taxi move off into the city.
I must speak with the Jedi Council
immediately, Your Honor. The situation
has become more complicated.
JAR JAR AND ANAKIN IN THE ANTEROOM
In the theatrical version of Episode I, just after the scene on the Coruscant Landing Platform where the Queen arrives with her crew and the Jedi, we cut directly to Palpatine’s Quarters where Jar Jar and Anakin are waiting in an anteroom while the “grown ups” discuss politics in the living area. Jar Jar and Anakin were supposed to have a few quick lines before the discussion in the other room heated up.
Here’s the short scene from the EPISODE I Illustrated Screenplay:
QUEEN AMIDALA is sitting listening to PALPATINE. EIRTAÉ and RABÉ stand behind the QUEEN; PADMÉ is nowhere to be seen. ANAKIN and JAR JAR are waiting in an adjoining room. They can see the Queen but cannot hear what is being said.
Dissen all pitty odd to my.
Don’t look at me. I don’t know what’s going on.
To me, one of the most intriguing cut scenes from Episode I involves Bail Organa. Bail Organa, as you know, is the man who will eventually adopt little Leia in Episode III. He is also indirectly mentioned by Princess Leia in reference to the Clone Wars (“…Years ago you served my father in Clone Wars…”).
The character of Bail Organa was originally intended to be introduced in Episode I and we can only speculate at this point the reason he was edited out of the final product. His picture did manage to sneak it’s way into a few official publications though.
One picture I’m including here reads “Senator Bail Organa” and it is clearly Adrian Dunbar, who was originally cast as Bail Organa in Episode I. His original job in the film was to second Amidala’s “vote of no confidence” against Chancellor Valorum.
Another picture is from a “pocket-book” called Episode I Who’s Who. It is clearly the same picture but check out the name. Now, he’s listed as “Bail Antilles”! Remember, in the film Captain Panaka mentions that someone named Bail Antilles of Alderaan has also been nominated to succeed Valorum as Chancellor. Is this supposed to be the same person? It looks like they tried to retrofit the publicity stills to cover the mistake and to allow another actor (in this case, Jimmy Smits) to be cast in Episode II.
I guess Bail just a really popular name on Alderaan, much like John or perhaps Mike. Did George decide he didn’t really want to introduce Bail Organa yet and try to cover it up? Who authorized those pictures to be released? Until we know more, it’s anybody’s guess but from what I know, the publications that are released as film tie-ins are prepared months in advance and sometimes things on a production change while the publications are being printed. Lucasfilm will then try to go around telling the publishers what to take out or add in. I’m thinking that in this case, this one just slipped through the cracks somehow.
On 8/12/2000, Aint-it-cool-news.com posted an interview with the would-be Bail, Adrian Dunbar. Here’s what he had to say:
“Well, I did STAR WARS, but I wasn’t actually in the film because George Lucas called me up and said that for plot reasons he couldn’t include my character – which I found a bit strange. I only had five or six lines and the only reason I was to do this one was because Lucas wanted to include me in the next two. And then he said he couldn’t. It’s all a bit…I don’t know. It’s all up in the air. You go in and you stand in front of a big, blue screen, and there’s three guys with pig’s heads behind you talking in some weird language and it’s just mad. Mad.
“Before we did it, the director came up and said to me: ‘By the way, George wants you to do this with an American accent.’ And I said: ‘That’s the first I’ve heard about it.’ And he said: ‘Well, that’s what he wants.’ So I practiced a bit and got my couple of lines off in an American accent. And after I did it there was silence. And then I heard this voice saying: ‘That is the worst American accent I’ve ever heard.’ And I thought, ‘Who the f*** is that?’ I peered out through the lights – and it was my old mate Liam Neeson taking the piss.”
Well, at least George Lucas called him personally to let him know he wouldn’t make it into the film. I wonder if it was his accent that was his downfall?
So now that we have Organa on the brain, let’s talk more about his scene in the Galactic Senate that was ultimately deleted.
First, let’s take a quick look at what was to be the first scene in the sequence according to the Episode I Illustrated Screenplay. Palpatine and the Queen have some short dialogue before Valorum recognizes the Senator from the sovereign system of Naboo. The picture included here from the Episode I Insider’s Guide CD-ROM is of the Naboo Representatives making their way to their Senate Box. This was also not in the final film and should fall right before this scene below.
Here’s the exchange from the Episode I Illustrated Screenplay:
If the Federation moves to defer the motion…
Your Majesty, I beg of you to ask for a
resolution to end this congressional session.
I wish I had your confidence in this, Senator.
You must force a new election for Supreme Chancellor…
I promise you there are many who will support us…
it is our best chance… Your Majesty, our only, chance.
You truly believe Chancellor Valorum will
not bring our motion to a vote?
He is distracted… he is afraid.
He will be of no help.
Enter Bail Organa. Here’s his big scene in the Senate sequence. We will pick up right after Amidala calls for the “vote of no confidence” in Valorum’s leadership. Don’t forget to check out Valorum’s last line which was also cut from the film:
This causes a great stir in the assembly. A loud murmur crescendos into a roar of approval and jeers. CHANCELLOR VALORUM is stunned and stands speechless. His Vice Chair, MAS AMEDDA, takes over.
Order! We shall have order…
Things settle down a little. The Federation box settles next to AMIDALA. PRINCE BAIL ORGANA moves his box into the arena.
Alderaan seconds the motion for a
vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum.
The motion has been seconded
by Bail Organa of Alderaan.
MAS AMEDDA turns to the confused VALORUM, and whispers something to him.
There must be no delays. The motion is on the floor
and must be voted upon in this session.
The Trade Federation moves the motion be
sent to the procedures committee for study.
The assembly begins to chant. VALORUM talks to MAS AMEDDA.
Vote now! Vote now! Vote now!
PALPATINE stands next to AMIDALA.
You see, Your Majesty, the tide is with us…
Valorum will be voted out, I assure you, and they
will elect in a new Chancellor, a strong Chancellor,
one who will not let our tragedy continue…
The Supreme Chancellor requests a recess.
Tomorrow we will begin the vote.
The Federation delegation is furious. VALORUM turns to PALPATINE.
Palpatine, I thought you were my ally…my friend.
You have betrayed me! How could you do this?
In the next two prequel episodes, Bail Organa is played by Jimmy Smits. A few months before the release of Episode II, Starwars.com released some more information about Bail Organa and his deleted scene from Episode I. They didn’t try to hide the fact that Dunbar was the original guy. Here’s the official explanation:
Bail Organa was to have appeared in the Senate sequences of Episode I, though the footage containing him was ultimately edited out of the final film. In the screenplay, Organa seconds Queen Amidala’s Vote of No Confidence that topples Supreme Chancellor Valorum’s rule. In the resulting power vacuum, several other senators are nominated to succeed Valorum, including Bail Antilles of Alderaan, who is a separate politician and not intended to be the same character as Bail Organa.
In the excised footage of The Phantom Menace, actor Adrian Dunbar played Organa. In Cloak of Deception, the description of Bail Antilles closely matches Adrian Dunbar, suggesting that’s ultimately what his character became. In Attack of the Clones, Bail Organa is played by Jimmy Smits.
While we’re talking about the Official Star Wars Site, you may remember that around the time of Episode II, Starwars.com opened a sort of mock news site which takes place in the Star Wars universe called HOLONET NEWS. In an article that appeared in March of 2002, there was mention of both Bail Antilles and Bail Organa with a picture of both of them together.
It’s a little freaky seeing them both together like that knowing what we know, isn’t it? The illustrated rendering of Antilles (by artist Joe Corroney) was obviously based on the picture of Adrian Dunbar in costume.
So all in all, it looks like it all turned out all right. I still wonder why Lucas sacked Dunbar, though. Maybe Liam Neeson wasn’t too far off the mark after all.
The scenes in the Galactic Senate were short but some of my favorites. I would have liked to have seen more of the different Senators from all around the galaxy. Turns out, many others were filmed but didn’t make it into the larger scenes/shots.
From the looks of some of the pictures I’m including here, the Senate was supposed to include a fairly wide variety of aliens and humanoids, some familiar and some brand new. Take a look through the pictures and you’ll find lots of Galactic Senators, Senate Guards and other aides that didn’t make the final cut. Some are simply publicity photos but some look like they are from scenes that were cut. Also note that some of these senators were ultimately featured in Episode II.
Friend of the site, Jordan Drew conducted an interview with Episode I Animatronic Model Designer John Coppinger (who also was the sculptor who helped make the original Jabba the Hutt from Return of the Jedi) and he let something small but cool slip out about one of the few roles he played in Episode I. Here’s what he said:
I played three Wookiee senators for the voting scene, and a fourth one (asleep!) which wasn’t used. It was the same suit, with white fur taken away so that it got younger for every take.
Asleep? Are the Senate proceedings that boring? If they’re anything like ours here on this planet, I’ll bet they are. I would love to see this footage. Imagine the Wookiee box and there’s one of the senators dozing off.
On a side note, Starwars.com gave us this little behind-the-scenes bit of info about the Twi’lek sitting with Orn Free Taa in one of the pictures:
For The Phantom Menace, Bib Fortuna was a cameo appearance by Supervising Sound Editor Matthew Wood. Alan Ruscoe also played a character that the production nicknamed “Bib Fortuna,” one of Orn Free Taa’s senatorial aides, though this was not intended to be the same Fortuna character. In the finished film, this senatorial “Fortuna” did not appear on screen.
R2-D2 AND HIS BOOSTER ROCKETS
R2-D2 always was a curious little droid, even in the early days. One night during the events of Episode I, however, curiosity was supposed to get the better of him.
During the scene on Coruscant where the Queen and her protectors are planning to go back to Naboo to fight the good fight, Artoo has a little “accident”. While on the landing platform where the Queen’s ship is docked, Artoo peers over the edge of the platform. He then takes a dive right off the edge, but not to worry. The Episode I R2-D2 was supposed to be equipped with rocket boosters.
Here’s the passage from the Episode I Illustrated Screenplay:
EXT. CORUSCANT – SENATE LANDING PLATFORM – NIGHT
QUI-GON, OBI-WAN, and ANAKIN stand on the landing platform outside the ship. ARTOO whistles a happy tune as he leans over the edge of the platform, watching the traffic. Suddenly he leans over too far and falls overboard. After a moment, he reappears, using his on-board jets to propel himself back onto the landing platform. The wind whips at ANAKIN as he listens to the JEDI.
If you look closely at the pictures included here, you can see R2’s jets sticking out of his front panels. Also note the Episode I R2-D2 action figure comes complete with Booster Rockets. This figure was probably designed long before the film was actually edited and this scene removed. In fact, many of the “CommTech” lines of dialogue that the Episode I action figures speak are not in the film or are a little different from the lines that ended up in the film.
The picture that looks like a finished shot with the skyscape in the background was sent in by my friend Jedi Sluggo. It’s similar to one of the others, but take a good look and you’ll notice that Sluggo added in a nice Coruscant background to give us a better idea of what the scene might have actually looked like. (Note: The background was added in by Jedi Sluggo. This is not an official picture!)
In some of the other pictures, you can actually see R2-D2 falling over the edge of the platform, proving that this scene was in fact filmed. There’s a picture from Starwars.com where you can plainly see the wires sticking out of R2 as Jake Lloyd takes a peek inside to see what’s up. This is probably the unit they used to shoot R2 flying back up after his fall.
You can catch a glimpse of the shooting of this scene in the Starwars.com documentary series called “Lynne’s Diaries,” which are found on Starwars.com and the Episode I DVD. Some of the stills here are, in fact, from that documentary.
Although this concept never made it into the final version of Episode I, the idea was resurrected for Episode II. R2’s rockets, however, were moved to the sides of his legs instead of his front panels. Wise move there, I have to admit. It looks much better and makes more sense.