Star Wars fans were excited to check out The Phantom Menace, the first of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels featuring the origins of Darth Vader. But actually seeing it proved to be a let down. Actor Peter Serafinowicz, who voiced the Sith warrior Darth Maul in the film, had the same experience, and he discussed his disappointment in an interview back in 2012.
Serafinowicz had hit up Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast and talked about landing the role, voicing the character, and finally seeing the end result on the big screen. As a Star Wars fan, he recalled the surreal moment when he realized he landed the role, and watching the trailers for the film thinking it to be a great sci-fi achievement. He purchases a thousand-dollar ticket himself to sit in the audience during the premiere, but as soon as the film started everyone had a bad feeling about it — and not just because of Ewan McGregor’s line, "I’ve got a bad feeling about this."
Everything got worse when all the CG aliens — including Jar Jar Binks — hobbled onto the screen. Serafinowicz actually said,
It reminds me of, if you’re watching Channel 4 during the day and there’s an old black-and-white film on, and someone’s in blackface, and they just bought this film for eight pounds to show and nobody’s checked it. It was like, the most racist film of the twentieth century!
The actor said this disappointment leaked into the rest of the audience, most of whom he recalled looked perplexed over the poor quality of the film, the dialogue, and the story.
Furthermore, Serafinowicz said his role "was one of the worst-paying jobs" he ever did. When he interviewed Terrence Stamp, who played Chancellor Valorum in The Phantom Menace, he discovered he wasn’t alone in this regard. Stamp remembered agreeing to play the role for a reduced pay under the promise that George Lucas would bestow him a gift after filming. As it turned out, this gift was a child’s Phantom Menace stencil set.
Listen to Serafinowicz speak about his experience on the podcast below.
The Star Wars franchise will forever be tainted by the likes of Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen, but Lucasfilm is moving on with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film, which kick starts a new trilogy in the galaxy far, far away, introduces a set of new and returning players. It’s scheduled for release in the U.S. on December 18, and stay tuned for the new trailer dropping tonight during Monday Night Football.