[Note: If you've come here from a link to read Gail's column on the terrorist attacks, please click here.]
NEESON: Hello, and welcome to the long-awaited DVD issue of STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE. I'm Liam Neeson, and I played the somewhat world-weary Jedi Knight, Qui Gon Jinn...
McGREGOR ...I'm Ewan McGregor, I played the young Obi Wan Kenobi, the role of course made famous by the brilliant Alec Guinness in the original films. With us today, through the magic of DVD audio tracks, is the mastermind of the entire Star Wars saga, George Lucas.
LUCAS: You know, I don't remember either one of you.
McGREGOR: He's having us on. Good one, George!
LUCAS: No, I'm not.
NEESON: George--we played the Jedi Knights in the film, remember?
LUCAS: Oh, RIGHT! Right right right. You're ACTORS.
LUCAS: Sorry. Sorry! Actors can be a very important part of a film.
LUCAS: It was a very big production. I can't remember everyone who worked on it.
NEESON: I can't believe you can't remember us...
McGREGOR: We were in that absurd little room with the green screen behind us for AGES.
LUCAS: Wait, I remember you now. I do. You guys did great work. Really good. It added a lot to the film, honestly. Your reaction shots to the CGI were sometimes so dead on I almost BELIEVED that you were also computer-generated. That's talent, and in your own way, you contributed almost as much to the finished film as the guy who makes the "Zow! Zap!" sounds line up on the soundtrack. Listen, this whole "name" thing is hard for me, so I'm just going to call you HUMAN #1 and HUMAN #2, okay?
PORTMAN: Hello, all. I'm Natalie Portman, and I'm 90% certain I play either a character or a series of two characters in this film. Also, the title scroll just went by and already, I'm completely lost. Apparently, this is an action- packed family science-fantasy thriller about import/exports. Sort of an intergalactic Pier One.
LUCAS: Since you were the girl in the film, I'll call you GIRL HUMAN.
LLOYD: Christ, I could go for a cold one.
PORTMAN: Don't be frightened, George. That's just Jake Lloyd, who played the adorable little heartstring-tugging future mass murderer, Anakin Skywalker, whom you might remember either from your script or your Nintendo 64.
LUCAS: Good God! Someone upgraded him!
LLOYD: Can I bum a smoke? Anyone?
NEESON: George, I was going to ask you about this opening shot. Usually in a Star Wars film, you start with a tremendously dramatic first scene, and yet here, it's just these oddball green guys talking about trade negotiations. It's like the business report for aubergine-heads.
LUCAS: Know what's cool? This looks like it was filmed in space but it wasn't.
McGREGOR: I like this scene because I get a chance to show off my Alec Guinness voice. "Master Yoda told me to be mindful of the future." He's the wisest and deepest hand-puppet in all the universe.
LUCAS: What he's SAYING is that you should think of the future sometimes.
NEESON: ...And then my line is, "But not at the expense of the present."
LUCAS: That means think of future but also don't forget to think about now.
PORTMAN: It helps when you're here to explain it. This is a nice effects shot, by the way, the ships in space. Pretty.
LUCAS: Insider secret: Those aren't real spaceships.
BEST: WILLI-WACKA-WUMBO! SCOODILY-DOODILY-DOO-DOO!
BEST: I'm Ahmed Best, and I played Jar Jar Binks, the reluctant Gungan hero. George loves it when I talk. It doesn't even matter what I say! Jar Jar Binks! That's ME! I'm Jar Jar Binks! Woogily-woogily-wee-wee!
McGREGOR: I'm a REAL actor, you know. I can do more than just Guinness. I can do a young Carrie Fisher. What you do is you look as though you'd just eaten something unpleasant and a blind Swedish fisherman did your make-up. That's the key to her character, really.
BEST: WACKA-WACKA-WOOGA! WOAH-DE-OH-DE-DAY! I'm Jar Jar Binks!
LUCAS: Stop it! You're KILLING me! Hahahahahaha! "Wacka-Wooga!" Oh, man, that's PRICELESS!
BEST: POOPIE-DOOPIE! DIPEY-DOO-DOO-DROOPY! I'm Jar Jar Binks, God dammit!
LUCAS: Do the walk! Hahahahahaha!
NEESON: Oh, hey. Here's the fight scene against countless battle-droids, annnnnnnnnd............done.
BEST: Meesa thinkin' battle-droids is bombad WOOSA LOOSA crappy!
NEESON: Now, this scene...where we're using the lightsabers to cut through the door...
LUCAS: Oh, yeah. We worked on this for a long time. Notice how cool the lightsa--Hey! You're the guy holding it! Good job, Human #1! I knew you seemed familiar. You played Non-CGI Character Qui Gon Jinn!
McGREGOR: ...Or a young Yoda. I can play a muppet. Listen to this, "Much fear has the boy, plus much stealing of my wallet did he, a little bastard he is!"
LLOYD: I was gonna give it back!
McGREGOR: Ooops! Here comes my big comedy scene..."You were right about one thing, Master. The negotiations were short." Hahahahaha!
McGREGOR: See, because, Qui Gon said...and then I said...hahahahaha!
LUCAS: You're HILARIOUS, Human #2! You're funnier than some of the CGI actors, and we especially digitized them for their mirth-producing qualities. Oh, hey, Girl Human, here's...
PORTMAN: Right, right, this is the first scene featuring either me, someone pretending to be me, me pretending to be someone else, or someone pretending to be me pretending to be someone else. If that's me, I should have an amusing anecdote about my make-up, so here goes: I had to arrive at work at 2:00 am! Boy, making movies is hard, but it's worth it to make a film that entertai...wait. I don't think that's me. Never mind.
LUCAS: I may have digitized you.
PORTMAN: Honestly, I don't...
LUCAS: Here's a simple test. If you pinch yourself and it hurts, you're a real human.
LLOYD: Can I be in the next movie, George?
LUCAS: No. I'm talking to people about taking you out of this one, in fact. Hey, give me back my wallet, you little bastard!
FAN: This is the worst movie ever.
LUCAS: What? How did you get in here?
FAN: You've destroyed my innocence.
NEESON: Now, that seems a bit overstated...
FAN: The cherished memories of the original Star Wars films that made my life worth living have been tarnished by this unholy abomination.
BEST: Yousa needsa real life, meesa thinkin'! Issa joosta a bombad movie! Hey, hey, I'm J.J.B!
NEESON: It's not even that BAD a movie.
McGREGOR: It's better than those stupid Ewoks, for God's sake.
NEESON: And the fight scene at the end is top-notch.
McGREGOR: The music, set design, costuming and special effects are all stunning.
PORTMAN: It's true. More than that, I just watched the original trilogy a few weeks ago. What the Hell are we ashamed of? At least we can act.
FAN: Oh, will no one pluck my eyes out so that I am spared the degradation of one more moment of this cinematic atrocity? Curse you, George Lucas! I hate you with every ounce of my broken and disillusioned spirit! 'Midichlorians?' What the Hell stinking, vile, pus-filled orifice did you pull THAT out of, you Satan in blue jeans? You poisonous, evil, vile, rancid, wretched...
LUCAS: Darth Maul returns in the sequel.FAN: Hooray!