I started to feel that maybe I was crazy, as I watched the ‘Star Wars’ fans of the world losing their minds over every scrap of ‘The Force Awakens’ news that trickled out of the rumor mill.  (Don’t even get me started on ‘Episode VIII’, a movie two years away.)  The midnight release of toys and other merchandise had me completely bewildered.  Why were people already snapping up hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise for a film that wouldn’t be out for several months?  The immediate answer was, of course, “Because it’s ‘Star Wars’!”  My reaction to that: “So was ‘Star Wars: The Phantom Menace’.”

Maybe time has healed that wound or maybe it’s been so long– 16 years to be exact– since George Lucas’ return to the most famous and beloved film trilogy of all time, that people have forgotten what a turd it was.  And let’s be honest, the two after that weren’t gems either.  Why were people so eagerly snapping up BB-8 toys when they could, in December, turn into the equivalent of new Jar Jar Binks figures?

But have your fun, Star Warriors.  For my part, I’m enjoying this Boba Fett Coffee Mate creamer.  Mmmm!  Mandalorian!  And despite the fact that nearly everything about it sucked, there was one neat part of ‘The Phantom Menace’– Darth Maul.  The badass double-bladed Lightsaber-slinging Sith Lord still inspires cosplayers and I’d venture to guess sells the most merchandise of the prequel characters.  But even the man who voiced him, British actor Peter Serafinowitcz acknowledges what a dreadful film is responsible for his character’s existence and even points to this as one of his lowest paying gigs ever.

Serafinowicz may be most recognizable to U.S. audiences for playing Pete in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ but has appeared in many TV and film roles both in America and in England and has provided voice work animated series including ‘South Park’, ‘American Dad!’, ‘Ax Cop’ and ‘Adventure Time’.  He even headlined his own comedy series for a period and recently returned to cosmic adventure in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ playing Denarian Saal.

But recently, Serafinowicz recalled paying $1000 for a ticket to see ‘The Phantom Menace’ when it premiered in theaters and thinking “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” as the movie unspooled for the first time.

“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”

Serafinowicz also discussed comparing notes with the esteemed Terrance Stamp who played Chancellor Valorum, who also disclosed that he took a pay cut to do the film in exchange for the promise of a gift from George Lucas afterward.  The gift turned out to be a child’s stencil set.  You can’t make this stuff up!

You can listen to the entire interview below:

For the sake of fans, I do hope that the Lucas-free ‘The Force Awakens’ bears no resemblance to the dreaded prequels and is the dream-come-true everyone wants it to be.

Get a better sampling of what to expect tonight during Monday Night Football when a new trailer premiers.

Are you at all worried about ‘The Force Awakens’ not living up to the hype?  Will your soul be forever crushed if we get another round of movies like the prequels?

Source: Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast