Friday, January 25, 2013

You Have Your Mother's Eyes

(Originally Written for Jedi News)

I spent the last week writing a hard dissertation. It was thoughtful, passionate, hard-hitting…and it stunk. Bad. Like rancid garbage even a Dianoga wouldn’t touch. So at the very last minute I threw it out and wrote this fun fluff piece instead.

You have to credit George Lucas and his casting directors. Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia Organa (Skywalker Amidala Solo Banana-Fana-Fo-Fesca III) are two of pop-culture’s most recognizable characters, so the task of casting believable parents for these two was a herculean task. And you know what? It was pulled off stupendously.

Let’s look at Luke first. Physically, he’s got his father’s sandy hair and Force sensitivity. His face shape is also similar, with eyes that are kind of in-between but closer to Anakin’s. His nose, however, starts off looking like a slightly bigger version of Padmé’s (at least until the car acci-er-Wampa attack, when his reconstructed nose winds up looking more like Dad’s). Personality-wise, it’s no secret that he got Ani’s patented whining impatience. But aside from that, I think it’s pretty much all Mom. He can be brash like Anakin, but he’s got the ability to keep himself in check that’s all Padmé.

Of course, casting for Luke isn’t too difficult. Casting for Luke and Leia together is the tricky part. It’s no secret that Leia being the second Skywalker twin was not in the original storyline and was in fact added relatively last minute. This is glaringly obvious in Return of the Jedi and is in fact one of the very few things I actually dislike about the Saga (not the concept, of course, just the execution in Jedi). Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher were not cast to look or act much like each other, so it was the job of Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman to tie it together. Fortunately, it works because Leia got just as much from her parents as Luke did.

From the start, Leia looks more like Anakin. She’s got Padmé’s hair and softness of face, but most of her features are pure Anakin. Her personality too. She’s got her mother’s gift for diplomacy, but I would argue deep down she’s got Anakin’s fire even moreso than Luke. This is interesting because of the amount of EU material stating her fear of turning to the dark side as a major impediment to her considering Jedi training. Of course, being her mother’s daughter she leaves the petulance to the boys.

Often in fiction, especially fiction aimed at younger audiences, when two characters have a son and a daughter together the children will end up being carbon copies of the same-gendered parent. Lucas was smart in that it seems this is where it’s heading when we first meet Anakin and Padmé in Phantom Menace, but as Clones and Sith went on you could really see how mixed – and sometimes opposite – the twins would turn out.

So kudos to the casting directors who found the perfect parents. Kudos to Hayden and Natalie for performances that match. Kudos to Mark and Carrie for the performances that started it all. Most of all, kudos to George for tying it all together, even if it was at the last minute.

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