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Planet Darth; THE GOODIES..THE BADDIES.. AND THE SECRETS OF THE STARS WHO PLAY THEM.

Byline: Compiled by LAURIE HANNA

Natalie Portman: Queen Amidala

THE CHARACTER: Beautiful ruler of peaceful Naboo and mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

THE REAL PERSON: Natalie, 23, has been acting since she was 11. She starred as a pole dancer in last year's Closer, for which she won a Golden Globe.

But the Israeli- born, American- raised daughter of fertility specialist Avner Hershlag says her first love was musicals. "My dream was to be a dancer on Broadway," she says.

Last October she was romantically linked with Chesa Boudin, son of Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, who were jailed for murder after the notorious Brinks robbery in New York in 1981. At the Oscar after-parties in March, she was spotted hanging out with Israeli actor Liron Levo. Obsessively private, she answers all personal questions with a polite but firm: "I don't talk about my private life."

AFTER playing Chewbacca in the first Star Wars movie, 7ft 2in Peter Mayhew returned to his job as a London hospital porter as he didn't know if the movie would make any money.

CHEWBACCA'S voice was created by blending sounds from a brown bear with the bark of a dog, growls from a lion and squeals from a stranded walrus. His father's name is Attichitcuk.

Hayden Christensen: Anakin Skywalker

THE CHARACTER: The Jedi Knight betrays his mentor Obi-Wan, switches to the Dark Side and transforms into Darth Vader.

THE REAL PERSON: Hayden, 24, beat Leonardo di Caprio and 441 others for the role.

The Canadian is fiercely private But ask him about co-star Natalie Portman and he sounds a little smitten. "She's a real sweetie and a fantastic kisser," he says.

Hayden fell into acting when, aged seven, he tagged along with his big sister Hejsa to an audition and was offered a job in a commercial.

The third of four children, he is close to his family and splits his time between LA and Toronto.

He has two movies coming up - The Decameron, and Barry Levinson's Sixty-Six. He also has his own production company and is developing a TV series. He has written a screenplay and wants to study for a degree.

He has mixed feelings about his five years with Star Wars ending. "There's a bittersweet sense of relief," he admits. "Very much of relief...it will free up a lot of my time."

R2-D2 went on kids TV show Sesame Street ...and fell in love with a fire hydrant. The footprints of the androids C-3PO and R2-D2 are with those of other stars on the pavement at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

THE creators of Yoda wanted a wise and old look - so they modelled his face and eyes on Albert Einstein. The voice of Yoda was provided by Frank Oz, who is also the voice of the Muppets' Miss Piggy.

Jimmy Smits: Senator Bail Organa

THE CHARACTER: Bail is desperate to ensure peace reigns in the Galaxy and is seen as a voice of reason in Senate. Along with wife Breha, they adopt Amidala's daughter, who will become Princess Leia.

THE REAL PERSON: The 49-year-old LA Law and NYPD Blue star struggled after leaving the cop show in 1998. The half-Puerto Rican actor, who grew up in Brooklyn, has now joined The West Wing as Matthew Santos, who is in the running to replace President Josiah Bartlett, played by Martin Sheen.

He became a dad to Taina when he was just 19 and also has a son, Joaquin, 22. He split from their mother in 1987 and now lives with actress Wanda de Jesus.

THE noises of Darth Vader's spaceship TIE fighters were first made by a bellowing elephant.

Samuel L Jackson: Mace Windu

THE CHARACTER: A senior Jedi Knight and member of the Jedi Council, Mace Windo is the first to become suspicious of Anakin's leanings towards the Dark Side. He tries to arrest Senator Palpatine, unaware that the Senator is Darth Sidious.

THE REAL PERSON: Samuel L Jackson has a special reason to be grateful to the Star Wars movies - thanks to them he is now the most successful actor ever. After starring in huge box office hits such as XXX, The Incredibles and the first two Star Wars prequels, his films have grossed more than those of any other actor in history - even beating Star Wars stalwart Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the original films. Jackson's character dies in Revenge of the Sith, and he is eager to see his death scene on the big screen, saying "I get to go out in a blaze of glory."

HARRISON Ford was a carpenter before his big break as Han Solo in 1977. He was building cabinets for George Lucas when he was asked to read lines for the part.

ILLUSTRATOR Ralph McQuarrie based Darth Vader on a medieval Japanese samurai warrior. Given the choice of being Darth Vader or Chewbacca, ex-weightlifter Dave Prowse joined the Dark Side of the Force.

Ewan McGregor: Obi-Wan Kenobi

THE CHARACTER: One of the most senior Jedi Knights and a respected member of the Jedi Council. He taught Anakin the ways of the Jedi and fights a climactic battle with him in Revenge of the Sith.

THE REAL PERSON: Ewan McGregor used to spend Sundays on drunken benders or hanging backstage with rockers Oasis. These days he's more likely to be in the local park pushing his nine year old daughter Clara on the swings.

The 34-year-old Scots actor, who gave up alcohol three years ago, credits his wife of 10 years, Eve, a French production designer, and their two daughters, Clara and Esther, three, for turning his life around.

"I've mellowed a lot," he says. "I'm no longer 25 and tearing around. I'm a husband and have two beautiful children. That's much more important to me."

When he was asked to play Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars prequels, he sought advice from his uncle Denis Lawson who was Lt Wedge Antilles in the original movies. "He told me not to do them," laughs McGregor. "He hates Star Wars, hates being in it and hates the fan mail."

There are times when McGregor regrets ignoring his uncle's advice. He finds acting against a blue screen - necessary for the special effects - "really tedious". And he's not keen about obsessive Star Wars fans either. "There's this huge following which is weird," he says, clearly amazed.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 15, 2005
Words:1064
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