Star Wars: Worst Phantom Menace casting

With Star Wars Ep 7: The Force Awakens,
fans are anxious to forget their disappointments of the original trilogy.  The Phantom Menace is a perfect example of hype after decades of waiting.  We’ve come across an interesting article from, that opines 7 questionable casting decisions from the film.   Unlike A New Hope, Episode 1 invited many established talent to be part of the legacy.

Before we go through the list, we do our best distinguishing poor acting and presentation from poor writing.  Did the casting decision bring excitement to the role?  When it comes to the bad lines, we’ll try to be objective and look past it.   Let’s retell the controversies!

#7 Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn

Critique: He’s overqualified.

Neeson was great before everyone knew it.  This is Darkman, for Pete’s sake!  One of the most exciting decisions, I looked forward seeing Liam Neeson as a Jedi master.  Simply with his presence, we’re reminded of a time where the Jedi walked tall.   Written as a master with questionable ethics and a little past his prime was a great risk foreshadowing the end of the Jedi.  This is the man who later will be carrying swords in Kingdom of Heaven and Batman Begins and to think he would be Bryan Mills of Taken, have us looking back at a missed opportunity.  The legacy of Qui-Gon Jinn is overshadowed by what Liam Neeson has done since.

#6 Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala

Critique: A very poor performance.

In her own words, Natalie Portman wondered if her career was over after the prequels.  She confessed that others found her acting horrible.  Many would agree with her.  Sometimes we blame the script, others the talent.  Here, blame is shared with both.  We know she has talent.  After all, she went and won an Academy Award.  The question remains, was this bad casting?  Posters and screenshots justify her legacy as Princess Leia’s mother.  When carefully crafted, she personifies the image of a heroine in the Star Wars universe.   She was given a terrible script and didn’t have enough stature at the time to rise above it.

#5 Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu

Critique: Boring character.

Here is a someone that should have had his own trilogy.  Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t need to do much to get our attention.  That’s the problem.  He didn’t do much!   He had a couple light sabre fights spread over two films and six years.  But he sure sat around and opined a lot.  That doesn’t work with SLJ.   With a great story and direction, a little goes a long way.  Windu could have been this powerful yet mysterious character who’s hard to pin down and understand.  Instead he gets tossed out a high story building.

#4 Daniel Logan as a young Boba Fett

Critique: Annoying.

Another example where it would have been more effective if a young Boba Fett was little seen and never heard.  Daniel Logan could have been portrayed like a little Damian Thorn, always brooding in shadows.  Or they could have went the other way with a genuine father-son bond.  Instead, he was propped up like a cardboard cut-out and given stilted lines.  Filmed as if he was on the set of the Electric Company, we didn’t think of him as a young clone that would grow up to be one of the most infamous bounty hunters in sci-fi history.

#3 Jake Lloyd as a young Anakin Skywalker

Critique: Too long to mention.

Many in the blogosphere, go out of their way to protect, if not try to dissuade critique of the actor’s performance.  When it comes to casting mistakes, this tops number one.   Jake Lloyd was too young.  His lines were too wooden and ineffective.  His delivery was beneath the standards of a sci-fi film aimed at toy-buying nerds.  It can be argued that The Phantom Menace ruined his life.  Why bother talking about his acting skills?  Judgement has been made.  He suffered enough.

#2 Ahmed Best as Jar Jar Binks

Critique: Hated and despised.

There were actually two casting decisions made.  One, to have a CGI character with a starring role.  Two, choosing Ahmed Best as the voice actor.  When I first learned that Episode 1 would have a CGI character, I thought it was appropriate for a franchise known for its advancement of CGI in movies.  But I soon learned how much it hurts suspension of disbelief. The 1,000-yard stares, the unresponsiveness of human talent working with it, et al.   And we haven’t begun discussing Jar Jar’s role in The Phantom Menace.  An extraterrestrial Charlie Chaplin, he was walking joke that wouldn’t shut up.   Ahmed Best’s performance would have had him fired and his voice recordings deleted anywhere else.  George Lucas had a determined vision for Jar Jar.  No one, not even a terrible script with god-awful delivery would stop him.

#1 Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker

Critique: Bad acting.

Hayden Christensen had the unenviable role of playing the character that would be Darth Vader.  With the script given to him, one could argue he did too good of a job as a whiny, often angry, but an always petulant Jedi.  With a trilogy and Anakin as the supposed center, it is an ironic tragedy that both young and older Anakin are preferred forgotten.

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