Steven Spielberg has seen it. Well, at least he has a copy. This is the “Anakin Audition” tape that landed in my hands this week. Imagine my surprise upon receiving a tape of this type — auditions of actors trying out for the part of the future Darth Vader for [ Star Wars Episode II ]. Film Threat does not normally even cover stories like this, but here it was, sitting in my hot little hands. It was sent to me by a friend in the industry who only told me that this video was “making the rounds.” The tape is not dated, there is no inscription, merely a label written “Anakin Auditions.” Wow! Imagine my excitement as I popped it in the VCR. I’m not supposed to have this which makes it all the more exciting to watch.
The tape begins in total black with the imposing warning: PROPERTY OF LUCASFILM. NOT FOR DUPLICATION. Okay. I get the picture. Maybe I’m taking a risk running a story about a tape like this, but it’s going to get copied by everyone very shortly, so why shouldn’t Film Threat be the first web site to write about it?
After the total blackness and the “PROPERTY OF” warnings, a few voices can be heard. A hand literally takes the lens cap off the video camera and we hear…
“All right, um, lights. Testing. Testing.”
Then some figures loom and walk across the screen. These are probably production assistants or technical people setting up.
“I have the, um, I have the first set of slides.” Clearly this person is referencing pictures of potential candidates who will audition for the part of [ Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II ]. Now, everyone knows that the part has already been filled by the luckiest 19 year-old Canadian actor on the planet, Hayden Christensen. Filming on the second prequel in the Star Wars Six Pack (wasn’t it supposed to be nine films at one time?) has been going on for about a month at Fox Studios in Australia. Hayden arrived in Australia and underwent aggressive physical and weight training to prepare for his role as Anakin. In addition, he has alredy trained with a stunt coordinator in art of swordplay. Hayden has suited up in Jedi gear and has been wielding his lightsaber for over a month on the film. But what about the others? Those thousands of hopefuls who tried out for the role? What might the actors who auditioned for this part tell us about Episode II? What about the script used in those auditions?
The tape continues and more people just seem to mill about, setting up. “Let’s move this chair…” It goes on in kind of a mundane way. Don’t these people realize that they are making history with a tape like this?! An attractive woman named “Ginger” is introduced, probably a low level casting director. She’s wearing glasses and a bucket hat that seems to hide her natural good looks. She is introduced to a man named “Kenny” who will be running the camera for the auditions. All of this is very trivial and dull until we get to the big enchilada — actual dialog used in the auditions. Ginger and another production assistant stand in front of the camera and go over some basic dialog that will be used for the auditions. Now, it’s already been documented that the script used for the auditions will not be used in Star Wars Episode II, however, those lines were written in the spirit of the film. The production assistant and Ginger act as stand-ins and go over the words in the few pages of script. Now obviously the male lead is Anakin, but it is not exactly clear who the other lines are written for. Is it Padme, Queen Amidala or some new character? A female Jedi, a general or a leader perhaps? Who she is, is not important, what the dialog reveals is very important. Here is what they said:
[ FEMALE LEAD: ] ^ “I wouldn’t dream of asking you to, I only hope that you’ll prolong your departure for a few more days.”
[ ANAKIN SKYWALKER: ] ^ “I have been instructed to return as quickly as possible.”
[ FEMALE LEAD: ] ^ “We’re hoping you would be our guest at the feast of Kee-youun.”
(She has trouble pronouncing the word: Kee-youun – this is my guess at the spelling, and not George Lucas’ actual spelling. This is only the first instance of many of the actors stumbling over the pronunciation of some of the “Star Wars words” in the script. I have guessed as to the spelling of all questionable Star Wars words, so please bear with me on that.)
Right after this brief exchange the tape immediately cuts off and shifts into high gear with some of the candidates one after the other. The first one introduces himself as “Anthony Aldini.” (A search on IMBD did not reveal any previous credits for this actor.) He launches into a speech reading through the script. A voice off camera does the other voice in the scene, and here is the shocker about who Anakin is talking to:
[ EMPEROR PALPATINE: ] ^ “Anakin, we’ve been anxiously awaiting your arrival.”
[ ANAKIN SKYWALKER: ] ^ “Thank you Emperor Palpatine.”
[ EMPEROR PALPATINE: ] ^ “We hope that you have found your accommodations more than acceptable?”
[ ANAKIN SKYWALKER: ] ^ “I have. I didn’t know Kaasia Abilitators could exist in a non-desert climate?”
[ EMPEROR PALPATINE: ] ^ “Well, I think you’ll find Forszcheen can exist in a variety of climate.”
[ ANAKIN SKYWALKER: ] ^ (Anakin gets angry, clearly this direction is in the script. He gets mad, raises his voice in anger.) ^ “Is this what you want? Is this what’s right to you? I must obey my orders. You leave me no choice but to use this lightsaber!”
Here is where the tape suddenly cuts to another actor. Something is clearly wrong with the tape or maybe the actor’s performance. Anthony Aldini did okay, but he was clearly nervous and struggling with the pronounciations of words. Either there was a technical problem or the casting agents did not feel this actor had the right stuff. So, the tape cuts off and goes right to another actor, basically taping over what might have remained of Anthony Aldini’s try-out. Now here is what happens in the rest of Anakin Auditions.