Friday, March 8, 2013

My Top 11 Favorite Star Wars Characters of All Time (Part 1)

(Originally written for Jedi News, which got some really great pictures, especially for #8. I, however, am using different pictures)

Visitors to my website will remember I did a theme of lists during the holidays, where I revealed among MANY other things my Top 11 Favorite Star Wars Characters (Why Top 11? Because it allows one honorable mention to be tacked onto a normal 10 list). However, I just offered the lists then, no real explanation of why. And my loyal readers at Jedi News (I’m assuming there’s at least one or two) haven’t heard my order either, though I’ve mentioned a few numbers now and again.

I’ve wanted to gush about my favorite Saga characters for a while, but always hesitated because I felt I’d be infringing on Teresa Delgado’s territory. However, I can wait no more. It’s been a long week (in my personal life and with the stunning Clone Wars season finale), and I just want to geek out about the characters that, more than anyone else, make the Galaxy Far, Far Away my favorite place to visit. This is my Top 11 Favorite Star Wars Characters of All Time (part 1)!

11. Watto

He’s cheap, he’s disgusting, and he’s a slave owner. And…I love him? Okay, he’s a nasty character who I would shun in real life, but then I’d do the same to a number of characters on this list. In fiction, villains and other unsavory types are a ton of fun to watch, and this guy is no exception.

What’s more, I know ILM was banking on Jar Jar being the breakout CG character but…really they should have put Watto to the forefront. I can honestly say that, in my opinion, Watto is one of if not the best actors in the entire Saga. Watch the realization slowly dawn on his face during his appearance in Attack of the Clones. I can believe it came out the same year as Gollum.

Plus, he’s got an awesome voice (provided by Andy Secombe who, as I’m contractually obligated as an “Oliver!” fan to mention, is the son of Harry “Mr. Bumble” Secombe), he’s got a neat character design, and in Phantom Menace he gets the top memorable line (the “No Money, No Parts, No Deal” exchange with Qui-Gon).

10. Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi

Obi-Wan is the closest the saga has to a perfect hero, yet he’s flawed all the same. Played fabulously by both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor, it’s a great character study of how a man becomes a legend and then is forced into obscurity. He’s the Jedi Knight in shining armor who maintains quite a bit of his dashing as an old man.

He’s often seen as the quintessential old master, but there are other characters who fit that mold better, even on this very list. His failure with Anakin quickly nixes him as a teacher you’d want to have, but he retains just enough of his old master to remain the guy you’d want on your side at any age.

9. Chewbacca

I mentioned before that, as a youngster, I was into style more than substance, and even today an interesting design will grab my eye. During IV-VI, Chewie was really the only alien main hero so naturally I got invested in him.

And what a lovely character he is too! He really is like if that big shaggy dog next door decided to walk upright and strap on a bandolier. Though, as much as I love the Wookiee roar, I’d love to watch a version of the films where you can actually hear what Peter Mayhew is saying, because the rough scenes I’ve seen of the original dailies paints Chewie as rather erudite – a perfect foil for the less-than-polished Han Solo.

8. The Sith (tie)

Okay, this is kind of cheating. I lumped Darths Sidious, Tyrannus, and Maul in the same category because I do love them all for different reasons, and I really needed to get the rest of the characters to stay on my list.

Maul wasn’t a favorite of mine at first, but like many on this list he did grow on me, even with his limited portrayal in Phantom Menace. He was a perfect introduction to the idea of the classic Sith, and Ray Park’s menacing stares sold him even more. And yes, the doublesaber has a little bit to do with it as well.

Though if we’re talking cool lightsaber styles, in my eyes nothing beats the curved-hilt dueling saber wielded by Count Dooku. I was already predisposed to like Dooku because I’m a huge Christopher Lee fan, but he was also a very nuanced villain which fit perfectly in Attack of the Clones’ mystery air.

But, let’s be honest, the real reason this spot is here is because of Palpatine. He really is the main villain, and Ian McDiarmid has fun with every oozing, two-faced second of him. He’s the devil in plain sight, and I-III in particular allowed him to stretch his wings and really come to the forefront of the story.

7. C-3PO and R2-D2

Honestly, can you ever really separate these two? They’re one of the all-time classic duos. They’re the Greek Chorus through whose eyes the Saga is really told. And they’re funny as hell.

When I was a kid, it was Kenny Baker’s R2 that I preferred by a Kessel parsec. He has the most unique design, he’s smart and heroic, and he speaks in beeps. As I’ve gotten older, however, I’ve grown a softer spot for Anthony Daniels’ 3PO. He’s a know-nothing-know-it-all and there’s a lot of comedy in just how clueless he is throughout this whole mess.

With the both of them, it really is a testament to the actors on how much emotion they can convey without having any facial expressions, and that will always be amazing to me. And even though they’re separated for large chunks of all the films except Hope, they’ll always be a package deal to me and their banter (even if we only understand one side) is the heart of what places them on a lot of favorites lists. Including this one.

6. Qui-Gon Jinn


THIS is the teacher we all wish we could have at some point or other. He pushes us, but he’s understanding. He sees value in all life, but he doesn’t take things too seriously.

He’s the Jedi that the Order should have been emulating rather than dismissing. He’s gentle, but he’s got that twinkle in his eye (courtesy of Liam Neeson). He is the vessel of the Living Force, showing that life bends the rules a little once in a while and so must we in order to do what’s best for us and those around us. He is more of an ideal than anything else, but I’m okay with that because I just have a lot of fun watching him.

Coming next week: Part 2, featuring characters 5-1!

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