Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Cool Star Wars Conversation...

I should have included this about a month ago when REVENGE OF THE SITH was released but's good anytime...Read on...Thank you Empire Magazine... March 10, 2005. The Langham Hotel, London. Four Star Wars geeks meet and shoot the shit about the forthcoming Episode III and the saga that has shaped so much of their lives. Nothing unusual there, you might think, until you reckon on the identities of the foursome – famed indie director Kevin Smith, Shaun Of The Dead and Spaced creators and all-round geniuses Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and one of Empire's finest. It's the day before the official – and final – Star Wars theatrical trailer will debut online, and spirits are high in a room liberally sprinkled with Star Wars toys and paraphernalia. What follows is the full transcript of the hour-long chat – all 10,000 words of it. To read a condensed version, pick up the new issue of Empire, now on sale. For everyone else, though, press on for a fun and illuminating chat about lost toys, rediscovered enthusiasms and facts galore: did you know that Simon Pegg literally explodes every time someone mentions The Phantom Menace? Messy, that. Disclaimer: the views of Simon, Edgar and Kevin of course do not necessarily reflect the views of Empire. Phew! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Edgar: (Picks up some of the Star Wars toys on the table) What's this one? Simon: That's the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi, for sure. Edgar: Is he like Gummi Obi? Simon: That's in Futurama, with those water people. Kevin: Yeah, like the Gummi De Milo. (Edgar laughs) Edgar: That's my favourite Simpsons episode. Kevin: Where he's like, 'uhhhh… sweet Venus' Simon: And he puts the poprocks in the can of soda, and he throws it. Empire: fantastic. Edgar: And the bear show as well, the bear Jenny Jones show. Simon: With Gentle Ben Edgar: Where Gentle Ben comes on and he's like 'aaarrrgh!' And then it's 'bewwwwwwwwwwwww…' (laughs) Empire: I saw the trailer today. Edgar: We saw it today as well! Kevin: Did you see it too? Bad bootleg? Edgar: Yeah, a bad bootleg! Kevin: Thank God for the internet, man. Everybody in the world saw the trailer before they launched the trailer! Everybody saw the same shit as everybody. Edgar: I couldn't really make any of it out. I genuinely cry when I see the Star Wars trailers.Simon Pegg Empire: After seeing that trailer, he's doing it again to me. I am so excited. Edgar: He's grooming you like Michael Jackson does. He's grooming you for disappointment. Simon: By showing you trailers on the internet! Edgar: 'And then I felt dirty in the corner!' Simon: I always get, I genuinely cry when I see the Star Wars trailers. [Edgar laughs uproariously] Simon: No, it's a difficult thing to admit, but when I saw the Phantom Menace one I did. Even with the value of The Phantom Menace behind me, I cried when I saw Attack of the Clones with all the Jedis, and I've just learnt not to trust the trailers. Even if it's good, you just can't trust 'em. [Editor's note: Simon admitted to Empire just two days later that when he saw the Revenge Of The Sith trailer, he cried] Empire: But this trailer was apparently shot in what I've heard was a Peruvian cinema that the projectionist put on by mistake... Edgar: Right... Empire: and even on a flickery screen about that high, it was just fucking amazing. Are you guys hopeful for Revenge of the Sith? Kevin: Is that what really happened? Empire: Apparently that's the story. Kevin: Was it subtitled? Empire: No, it was in English. I can't verify this. Someone sent it to me and said 'this is from a Peruvian cinema' Edgar: A Peruvian cinema? You're sure it's not like the Turkish Star Wars? Well, my first thing when I saw it, I couldn't really see the effects at the end, but it still has that problem that I have with the first two and the Matrix sequels, is that the word 'council' should be banned from any sci-fi film. When the word 'council' appears in the trailer six times, you think 'ohhh!' Simon: You see them sat round in that room again, talking bollocks, you think oh no. Edgar: Fight! I want to see them fighting! Simon: We want a fight! Empire: There will be fights! They could talk about it in the council… 'how many people want to have a fight – hands up! Ok, let's go!' Kevin: But the council works in Star Trek, though. You're alright with councils and federations in Star Trek. Edgar: Federation sounds better! Federation sounds better than Council. Kevin: They should just drop 'Council' right out. 'We're gonna be the Federation!' Simon: There was a mention in the first one, in A New Hope. They spoke of the Senate. I didn't mind that as a kid. Empire: That's because you didn't see the Senate. Simon: Yeah... Kevin: Senate? What's that? Simon: Oh wow! A Senate! Kevin: Mom, I want to be a Senator! I've heard that they have a fight in the council room. Edgar: That would be good. Kevin: You know, with all those pods. Edgar: Oh really? Kevin: The Yoda fight and the Emperor fight apparently takes place in there because they're throwing all these pods around at each other. Edgar: Really? Does that mean the ETs get knocked out, then? Kevin: (laughs) Yeah, I heard that. I hear it's good. I think the ETs get it. Empire: Does that mean they'll be moving around the room in the pods really slowly. Simon: Yeah, like bumper cars! (laughs) Empire: 'Doh! I'll get you!' Simon: I don't know. I just think, oh. Kevin: Did you get amped when you saw it, though? Simon: yeah, but I didn't on this one because it was so small. I will when I see it. Kevin: tonight you will when it's full blown. Empire: Presumably you're a Hyperspace member? Simon: No, I'm not. Hyperspace started up after… Kevin: Pay for a website that's not porn? No way! Simon: If it's not drunk Ewok orgies, I'm not interested. Kevin: If it's not ass to mouth, I'm not paying. Simon: I probably will get excited about it when I see it. Empire: I can always give you my Hyperspace details. I'm giving them to everyone at the moment. I'm a dealer. Simon: Is it on tonight? Kevin: It's phenomenal. I loved every frame of it. There was no moment – even in the first Phantom Menace trailer there was a shot of Jar Jar and you went 'ooh!' Simon: But that was just him getting his little tongue caught in a hilarious bit of slapstick which we all love! Kevin: Right then and there, that was like the red flag going off for this character. Simon: But for me, the funny thing is I always think we all should have seen it coming in 1997 with the reissues. We were so excited to see it at the cinema again that you completely didn't notice certain things like… Edgar: Did you see Coruscant at the end of Return of the Jedi? Kevin: well, there's a shot in the first Star Wars when they're on Tatooine, and there's a little playlet in the background where one of those dinosaur-looking monsters rears back on its feet. Simon: And who came out of the cinema in 1977 and said 'that was really good, but if there'd just been a dinosaur in the background with a Jawa hanging off it, it would have been brilliant'? Nobody. And then there's the whole Greedo thing as well. When you think about him doing that, he basically robbed the scene, the defining moment… Kevin: He emasculated Han Solo. Because Han Solo was just like a superpimp who went 'FUCK IT!' And then all of a sudden they reined it back in to the point where it was like, 'oop! Defence!' Edgar: Yeah. You were saying that it fucked up the end of Star Wars as well. Simon: what it does is it takes away the set-up that Han Solo is so self-sufficient that will kill someone before he gets killed. And he's willing to fly away and leave Luke at the end. Without that, you lose that whole arc and Lucas stole that from us… and DAMN HIM! Empire: Hey, I'm trying to bring down the negative vibes… Simon: And that awful fucking Jabba bit, just because they couldn't figure out how to get him past his tail, they made him walk over him. That's like going up to Don Corleone and going 'whey hey hey! [mimes pinching cheeks] You wouldn't do that to the scariest gangster in the whole galaxy. That's just ridiculous. Kevin: That's like going up to the young Don Corleone. Empire: He's still a slug. He can't get you. Kevin: The weird thing about putting Greedo shooting first moment in there is that it does kind of unbalance the ending, because the Death Star does not shoot first at the Millennium Falcon. Simon: It just takes one little shot… You think 'Who is Han Solo? Some guy who defends himself or a guy who takes potshots?'Kevin Smith Kevin: Exactly. He's like 'fuck this' and fires at it. And you think 'Who is Han Solo? Some guy who defends himself or a guy who takes potshots?' Simon: Do you think Lucasfilm think people came out of the movie going 'I thought that Han Solo was brilliant, but he was a bit mean to that green guy' Simon: There's a whole generation of children won't know the lyrics to the Sy Snootles song from Return Of The Jedi which turned into a silly jazz number with a Muppet. Empire: The thing I'm most concerned about is that we lost the Ewoks song at the end of Return of the Jedi. It's gone! Edgar: Oh yeah! Kevin: That was the only time that the Ewoks were like, alright. Empire: They've got rhythm, they're ok. Simon: We actually learnt the Ewoks' song for an episode of Spaced, me and Edgar and Nick, because we couldn't actually use the music. Edgar: So we re-recorded it. Kevin: You couldn't use the master! Edgar: So we used our own arrangement! Kevin: It sounded good. I was sitting there, watching an episode and I thought, that sounds like an approximation. (laughs) Edgar: Oh, you'd be the person who'd spot that! Kevin: Because when we were making Clerks, I had Randall watching Return of the Jedi Simon: Yeah, I remember Kevin: and our version of Return of the Jedi was just the worst fucking off a record from the 70s, laser beams and some guy going 'WOOOOOOOOARGH!' Then we turned it on and it sounds like it's in the next room, so people have been having conversations and going 'that sounds nothing like Return of the Jedi' Simon: That's funny. Empire: Is there something about Star Wars that makes us talk about it, 28 years after it came out? What is it about Star wars that promotes that fanaticism and makes people like yourselves reference it? Simon: Basically, for the likes of us, it's because of what it meant at the time. Star Wars isn't just about the film, it's about what it was at the time. It changed cinema, it changed us. Nothing else can do that now. The Phantom Menace was never going to do that again, because the surface of cinema had changed so much. Edgar: Yeah, punk rock can't happen twice. It was never going to have quite the same impact. Kevin: And it's mythology, it's someone adding to your mythology. Imagine if, 30 years after the death of Christ, somebody was like 'Christ Part II – the saga continues…' Simon: Every saga has a beginning! Kevin: They fill you in on those missing 30 years. People would be lining up and shit. I'd be like 'naaah', I'm not too hot on the digital guy. I think there's a bit of that, but I think everyone remembers it fondly because we grew up with it. It'd be the same thing akin to, in England I guess, to the comics that your parents had, like the Albion type comics, with the metal claw dude… Edgar: Valiant and… I didn't have the big problems that everybody had with The Phantom Menace.Kevin Smith Kevin: Right. If they added to those, your parents would be like 'ohmigod' but at a certain point they just let them all go. But here's a big part of our childhood where the guy who did the first part added onto it. It's not like some horrible bait and switch where some dude my age – or me! – said 'I'm gonna sequelise Star Wars and some studio was foolhardy enough to be like, alright!' Edgar: He's the original guy. Kevin: It's almost heartbreaking for a lot people like us. Simon: because it begins to look like an accident. He's almost, by dropping the ball a little bit, it's almost like it makes us re-evaluate the first three films. Did he get those right by accident? Edgar: I suppose also if he hadn't directed – I mean, obviously he produced things like Raiders and Howard the Duck [Simon applauds sarcastically] – but he did direct The Phantom Menace. I remember when I first heard about the prequels, and I don't want to say I told you so or anything at all, but I remember talking to my brother, who's probably an even bigger fan than me… Simon: He's an apologist, isn't he? Edgar: He's a huge apologist, actually. He's kind of in denial. Kevin: I'm a very big apologist. Edgar: But I remember saying 'how can you make three films out of something where we know what's going to happen?' And I know that's a really simplistic way to put it, but even looking at that new poster now, which is probably my least favourite of the posters where it looks like the grumpy poster, with Hayden scowling and Ewan pouting and everybody's scowling and you're thinking that with this rumoured plot twist – the paternity thing – that he's probably thinking 'Jeez, I can't end the thing on a complete downer'. So maybe Darth Vader isn't his dad. Kevin: I've gotta believe, no. Somewhere along the line, he looked at the worldwide gross of Phantom Menace and looked at the worldwide gross of Attack of the Clones, and saw a $200 million differentiation. And then started quizzing people, and going 'well, what do you think it is?' And they could be like, 'well… have you thought about reading the Internet, George?' And he might have checked out some people's opinions. He would say in interviews that he doesn't read that stuff and he's going to stick to his own vision, adhere to his own vision, which as a film-maker you applaud, but as a member of the audience you think 'well, you could hone closer to the original three'. I mean, little things. I did not have the big problems that everybody had with The Phantom Menace. To me, I did not go in with the same expectation that I had going into see Return of the Jedi when I was thirteen years old. I was like, 'I'm an adult and there's no way this movie is going to work on me in the same way that those first three movies worked on me, so I'm just going to take this for what it is.' So the movie ended and I wasn't like, 'Awww fuck! Let's toss the theatre!' I was just like, 'Well, it's a kids movie' And the weird thing is that I watched it with kids and kids fucking loved it! Kids went nuts for it. You didn't hear them go, 'well, the digital guy…' They just went for it. So it seems that it worked for the audience that it was intended for. I just don't think he intended it for us. Simon: But how can you populate a script with talk of trade routes and taxation and say that's a kids movie? If it is a kids movie, make it for kids. There's all this high-falutin', sub-Kurosawa stuff going on and I think that's his get-out clause. He says that when adults don't like it. Edgar: Yeah. He said in an interview after The Phantom Menace came out and he said, 'if you want to watch adult stuff, watch The Matrix'. Well, can't we watch both? Simon: And we did, by the way. Edgar: Then they fucked it up... Empire: But Lucas has always said that he engineers the films visually, so that you can watch it in silence and so kids could get it without mention of trade routes and taxation… Edgar: Yeah! Empire: But they still get it. They know who's good and who's bad. Kevin: Well, those are clearly supposed to be Japanese people. Simon: Therefore they must be bad! It's when the first aliens spoke in The Phantom Menace – 'Oh, herro!' and it was like 'NOOOOO!!' Simon: I wrote a thesis on Star Wars when I was at university about the racial equivalence in Star Wars and all the kinds of social things that had gone on in the film. And in terms of movie archetypes, Chewie was like the faithful Polish gunner in a World War II movie. And there were certain racial types that were filled by aliens. It's film theory, so you can call it rubbish. But I think that in the later ones, it was so much more evident. These creeping fears in society were being brought out rather unsubtly. Edgar: But you know, the wily Japanese take-over. These are the things that trouble a billionaire tycoon. It's not something that bothers the man on the street, you know what I mean? Simon: I honestly thought that The Phantom Menace would have been so much better if he'd given the old fans a little bit of what they wanted, in just topping and tailing the whole new trilogy. The film starts in the Falcon, and all the old guys are in there with beards and Chewie's a bit grey. And they've got a little place to go – they're flying in Hyperspace and one of Han's kids goes 'what happened in the beginning, Uncle Luke?' and he goes 'well…' And then the story unfolds. Just to see those guys again would have been fabulous. Kevin: Like tying a knot. As opposed to waiting for the DVD release and then being like 'come on back. Everyone's welcome!' Simon: That would have been nice. Kevin: I don't know… do you think it was all as well plotted out as he maintained? Simon: No. Edgar: I don't think so, no. Simon: Because… spoilers… well, I heard that Amidala dies. Well, we all know that Amidala dies, right? But in Jedi, Leia says I remember my mother's eyes, but obviously she doesn't. Empire: she remembers the midwife's eyes. Kevin: She remembers because the Force was strong with her. Simon: And she's got a good memory. That's one of the lesser known powers! Empire: Maybe she just had a digital camera. (laughter) Simon: I always wondered why, in Empire, when Boba Fett went to shoot Chewbacca when he was kicking off with all the Stormtroopers, Vader stops him. I always thought that was an odd thing. Why wouldn't he let him just get shot? Why would he care about some furry Wookiee? So maybe there's something in Episode III… Kevin: 'No, I've always had a soft spot for Wookiees. Let him shoot the Stormtroopers.' (laughter) Simon: Wouldn't that be great? Edgar: That was the sad thing about The Phantom Menace. It's one of the main reasons I was disappointed with it. It made the world smaller. By trying to tie up things like R2-D2 and C-3PO, it shrunk the universe rather than expanded it. If you're gonna do three new films, taking us back to new planets… taking us back to Tatooine and particularly the whole thing with Threepio. Why bother doing that? I don't know. It just seemed out of place. Kevin: Just so he could ignore him years later and pretend that he didn't build that fucking droid. I always wondered why, in Empire, when Boba Fett went to shoot Chewbacca when he was kicking off with all the Stormtroopers, Vader stops him.Simon Pegg Simon: Hey, that's my droid. Kevin: It would have been so much more poignant in The Empire Strikes Back, in the prison… instead of Chewie putting Threepio back together, Darth Vader creeps in and starts putting him back together. (laughter) Edgar: Or says to Chewbacca, 'you've put that together wrong' Empire: Kinda gives it away, though. Vader comes in, Threepio goes 'Oh, hello Master Anakin – doh!' (laughter) Simon: Whoops! But then they have their minds wiped, don't they? Kevin: Apparently there's a line in the movie when they're going off with Captain Antilles, somebody says 'take the droids' and he's walking away and he stops. And for everybody like us, who says 'you'd better fucking wipe their memories', he stops and says 'have their memories wiped'. It's a real throwaway line. Edgar: 'And take away R2-D2's flying drive' Kevin: Take the wings off that fuckin' droid. There was little shit about the first ones that bothered me, like Ben Kenobi telling Luke 'when I first met your father, he was a great pilot' And then when he met his father, he's a fucking child! Empire: He was a great Podracer, though. Kevin: 'When I met your father, he was a speed demon' Simon: With bowl hair. Kevin: 'He was owned by a Jewish stereotype of the worst kind. Reeeeeal anti-Semitic motherfucker with wings.' (laughter) But I still remember the first trailer for The Phantom Menace when it was, 'Anakin Skywalker, meet Obi-Wan Kenobi' and I was like 'aaaaaahhhh!' Simon: I know. My heart stopped. Kevin: But part of the problem was I think they went too young with that character. Because for the Padme romance, it's like 'you could have babysat for this kid!' Simon: There are so many dubious sexual things, like Luke kissing Leia and so many weird relationships. Who thought, when they saw Anakin meet Padme, 'they're gonna fuck!' (whispered) Empire: 'Are you an angel?' 'Yeah, but you're a bit young for me...' Simon: Oh, all that crap. 'Are you an angel?' Don't make me sick. Also, one thing as a kid I loved and I really appreciated it as a kid was that Star Wars had nothing to do with my life, nothing to do with my planet. Everything was completely alien. Even the cantina music, even though it was jazz, sounded kinda alien. And in the new ones, he's got American football droids on the TV and sportscasters droids and that awful line, 'hey, you wanna buy a deathstick?' Well, it's a fag, isn't it? Course it is. Don't link it to my world! Kevin: Well, at least he's brought fags into space, finally. First he brought blacks, and then he's bringing gays. It'll be a much better universe. It was also just a movie where it ends on the right note, the first one. He tends to go for the strong final third, or at least the strong last half hour, 'cos that lightsaber fight is hands down the best in any of the fucking movies. Simon: Oh, in The Phantom Menace? Yeah… Kevin: And then you wonder if he can top it with this. That should be the penultimate and this should be the ultimate lightsaber fight, because this is the one that undoes Anakin. But I don't know if he can outdo it. Especially when you looked at the lightsaber fight at the end of Clones, where Dooku is fighting Anakin, and they go into these odd close-ups because they did all that digital work with whatisname… Edgar: Christopher Lee. Kevin: And that was in wide shots. And they go into tight shots and it's just dudes going like this [twirls hands around] with flashlights. And it's so tight, I'd never seen that before. They hadn't done that before in lightsaber fights. So that one wasn't nearly as good as the one that went before. But you would imagine that this one is going to be great, but I can't imagine it being better than that first one. The walls that shut, Darth Maul stalking and Liam Neeson going into a shogun-type pose… phenomenal. Simon: And the double-edged lightsaber is something we hadn't seen before. That was exciting. Kevin: And they refused to bring it back, too. They were like 'well…' Empire: Nick Gillard, the stunt co-ordinator, said that he was disappointed with the fights in Clones… Kevin: I don't know that he dropped the ball, but I would agree that you've got a sequence where you've got an arena full of fighting with battle droids and Jedis, so you could really go fucking nuts. But it's not very memorable. I can't really remember that sequence. The only thing I remember is Yoda fucking showing up at the zero hour with stormtroopers behind him, going 'around the survivors a perimeter create'. That's the only thing that lodges in your memory. Not the fight. That and maybe Mace lopping off Jango's head. Simon: And 'this party's over'… Kevin: Nooooooo! Edgar: That was a bad line! There's no Han Solo cynicism or even Mark Hamill in the first two. You know, even somebody that you or I could identify with as a kid.Edgar Wright Simon: It was inappropriate but it was funny, like Shaft just turned up. [does the theme tune] But talking about Lucas looking back, or starting to look back… he definitely tried to redo the best ending of any Star wars film ever, which is the end of Empire, in Clones. Even to having them standing together and the big sweeping score and the weird little grab-litter hand. You know what I mean? They can fly through space, but they can't make a hand look real. (laughter) Kevin: By the next film, it gets better. But for now, take this large pruning fork, this garden tool. Empire: But isn't George deliberately echoing the previous films? Kevin: The problem is that he's not echoing them enough or layering them with enough echoes. Empire: But this one's going to be hardcore, isn't it? Kevin: Thick and fast. It seems that, from the trailer and everything that I've read, that he's really linking the last to the first. I mean, going out of his way to do it. Teching down, something that bugged me about the first one. This world, which is older than the world that we remember from the first one, looks amazing. The high-tech machinery and the high-tech vehicles and whatnot, but it seems like he's dumbing down the tech so everything links up. Simon: Also, something I was surprised about in the trailer, and it was an odd kind of surprise, in that we all knew that Ian McDiarmid was Emperor Palpatine Kevin: WHAT???? Simon: And yet it was treated like some kind of big secret. But in the trailer, he immediately gets exposed. Kevin: You actually see him become the Emperor. And somebody told me that he becomes the Emperor due to a fight with Yoda that he has. There were two theories that I read online and one was that he uses all his Force energy to bring anakin back and that's how he becomes decrepit. But then somebody said – and this makes a hell of a lot more sense – that his fight with Yoda is so intense that that's what brings him to be the prune that he is. Which I hope is the fucking case because that would be so pimp. Edgar: The other sad thing, which I don't think the third one will be able to rectify, is the lack of a cynical or human element, because there's no Mark Hamill or Harrison Ford. Kevin: There's no Han Solo. Edgar: Or even Mark Hamill! You know, even somebody that you or I could identify with as a kid. But definitely without Han Solo's cynicism, there's no character in any of the two films, and it doesn't seem like there's going to be one in the third one, who is the audience, you know? The person making sarcastic comments. Simon: When I played Star Wars when I was a kid, I was always Luke because I had blond hair and my mate, Stu, was Han. But really, Han was the cool one. The Jedis were never the cool one. It was this renegade Corellian starfighter. Empire: But you always liked the idea of what a Jedi could be. Kevin: But I had no impression. Basically, I remember it was always very mystical and priest-like. Monk-like, the fighting Monk. And then the first time you see them at work at the beginning of the Phantom Menace, you were like, 'ohmigod, these guys were fucking pimp!' They took their sabers and they did shit that you always wanted to see them do, like drive it into steel and cut shit open, like just taking the top off a can. Amazing shit. And more hardcore. Edgar: Yeah, but even in Return of the Jedi, Luke becomes less interesting the more Jedi-like he becomes. In The Empire Strikes Back, he's kinda like a mudblood. What's the inbetween in Harry Potter? Simon: A mudblood. Edgar: So he's inbetween and that's kinda interesting because it's your way into the world. (pause) I watched Shattered Glass recently and I felt really sorry for Hayden Christensen. Kevin: He's really great in that movie. I think he's going to be great in this, too. I think basically he had to go through the whining period. You couldn't just have him show up as a dark, fucking brooding teenager and shit. You had to show - apparently the path to the Dark Side isn't very quick. It starts with 'I hate my hair' and ends with wanting to destroy Alderaan. So I bought that a little bit. I didn't mind the whininess. I remember a lot of people online were like 'he's such a fucking whiney teenager'. Simon: I'd heard that someone had spoken to Hayden Christensen and he'd said that he'd done that take where he says that he killed all the Tusken Raiders or whatever, I killed them all, he'd done it several ways. The one way he played it, which he didn't like, was to play it like a stroppy teenager, and that's the one Lucas picked. Kevin: I have to say this for George Lucas. He doesn't have a true impression of what it's like when your teenager says to you 'I killed them all, dad!' (laughter) Empire: Sith's all about the return of Vader. Kevin: That last shot in the trailer is so fucking amazing. That better be the last shot of the movie. Edgar: In the new one or the first one, with 'riiiiiiiise'. Kevin: No, that's fine. That's a little Frankenstein. Breathing's cool, but this one at the end of the trailer, with him fucking standing on the deck of a Star destroyer. Edgar: Yeah yeah yeah yeah. Kevin: If that's the end of the movie, I'll fucking be completely happy. Simon: he folds his arms, doesn't he? Kevin: yeah, it's good, because it really links up to the last one. These movies are the journey from innocent to corrupt, and the next three are about the journey from corrupt to redemption. Simon: One of the first posters that they did, when Anakin's standing in the corridor on the blockade runner. That is such an amazing poster, better than that silly one with the cape and better than the Drew Struzan one, as well. There's so much weight to that poster. It's like this is where we first met him and there he is, standing there as a real person. Kevin: Was that fanmade? Empire: The shadow was fanmade, but there was a shot of him standing in the blockade runner. It was our cover. But what is it about Vader that makes us excited when we see him in a trailer, folding his arms. 'Oh wow, a guy folding his arms! That's amazing!' Simon: Because it's the Vader from our youth. He's the guy who scared us when we were kids. Empire: But in Star Wars, he was Moff Tarkin's bitch! Simon: He's pretending to be… Kevin: He's just lying low. He's undercover. Edgar: He's the coolest man in the first three films – or four, five and six. And at the end of Empire, he's just in a huff. That's my favourite image of Vader when Vader is pissed off. There's no hysterics. It's just the back of his head, and you can tell he's pissed off. I played as Vader in the playground. I thought Vader was bad as hell.Kevin Smith Kevin: Did you see The Aviator? Edgar: yeah yeah yeah. Kevin: There's a moment at the end of The Aviator where Alec Baldwin, who spends most of the movie trying to bring Howard Hughes, finds out that Hughes is going to get the routes to wherever and he walks over to the globe and he just goes 'Fuck!' And the whole movie is really predicated on this dude trying to bring Hughes down and it ends so beautifully. 'Fuck'. It's like the end of Empire where he's on the bridge, going 'fuck'. And there's the dude sitting down there, thinking 'oh God, my neck's going to be choking now' and Vader walks past him. It's not even fucking worth it. Tomorrow's another day to be choked. Empire: were you guys Vader fans when you grew up? Simon, you played as Luke… Kevin: I played as Vader in the playground. I thought Vader was bad as hell. There was always something great about the dark side. And he always had this vaguely dog-like look, so he was sweet and evil at the same time. Simon: I love that shot in Jedi where he tries to get Luke to turn on the Endor, when they're on that little bridge outside the station and Luke doesn't and he walks off and they stay on Vader. And you can see everything, even though there's nothing there. You can see the beginnings of him coming back and that's beautiful. Empire: that's Dave Prowse for you… Edgar: [West Country accent] Dave Prowse! Darth Vaaaa-derrrr! Empire: oi'm your father! Kevin: Did they bring Prowse back to assay the role of Darth Vader? Simon: No. Empire: It's Christensen. Kevin: So they didn't bring Prowse back. Empire: Christensen's six inches shorter. Edgar: He's got arthritis as well, Prowse. Kevin: So did they do anything about the size difference at all? Or once they put Anakin in, he's just as tall as Darth Vader? You've seen the images of how fucking burned and husked he is after the volcano. So they can do what they want… 'if you're gonna save me, make me six inches taller!' Simon: No, not there! Empire: But wouldn’t the Emperor just look at him and go 'aww, fuck' and just leave him there? Kevin: Yeah! At what point do you go 'this life is worth saving' If you bring a husk back where he's got no limbs whatsoever, a little bit of face left and none of the fucking skills that he previously had, because he's just charred! He looks like the dude at the end of Beetlejuice, who's just sitting there in the waiting room, and it's like 'this is the one, I've gotta bring this fucking dude back. He's worth saving!' But he obviously is because he becomes Darth Vader. When you were a kid, did you think Darth Vader was a robot? I always did, for the first movie. Edgar: yeah, I think for the first movie, yeah. Kevin: Stormtroopers, too. Because in the first movie, they didn't really make it clear until Empire that there was a man under Vader, because you saw the helmet coming down. But in the first movie I thought that Vader was a robot and that the stormtroopers were robots, because they never showed Han and Luke taking their helmets off and putting them on. I just assumed they took their heads off, scraped out the guts and put them on. Edgar: It was probably the first sci-fi film. Before that, you would have people with helmets on but you could see their faces, or you would have robots. And they're the first characters in science fiction films that are neither. Kevin: They're armoured. Edgar: Yeah, they're completely armoured. Simon: I remember reading on the back of a Star Wars lollipop (laughter) Boba Fett? What a terrible way to kill such a cool guy! That's a funny death! Well done!Simon Pegg Empire: Where Darth Vader was 70% strawberry juice? Kevin: 'And I've lived my life by it ever since…' (laughter) Simon: It was really good. It was stuff about Boba Fett being a member of this troop called the Shock Troopers and he was the last surviving member. And then I read the other day that he was meant to be Han Solo's brother at one point and all this crazy stuff. Edgar: Even Boba Fett just being someone in armour was a bit of a disappointment. I thought Boba Fett was an android when I was a kid. He was the coolest one. Simon: Is he going to be in Sith? Empire: Very briefly, I think. Kevin: What, Boba is? Younger Boba? Empire: See, I thought they were setting him up to kill Mace Windu. Kevin: yeah, it seemed like it with that shot of him holding his father's head, but that's just an 'alas, poor Yorick' moment now, I think. But everybody would pay to see that movie too. You could just a poster with fucking Boba Fett on it, and the fanbase would go. Simon: And that's weird, isn't it, when you think of the screentime that he had. Kevin: And the lines he had, too. Edgar: He's no good to me dead' Kevin: There's just nothing there. Empire: Except now it's [accent] 'He's no good to me dead'. Simon: And that's another thing that I never even thought was terrible, only in retrospect. What a terrible way to kill such a cool guy! That's a funny death! Well done! Edgar: Pushed over by a blind man. Empire: But he survived. He's in the Expanded Universe. Edgar: In the comics, he crawled out, didn't he? Kevin: He did, he crawled out of the sarlaac pit. That's one of the best issues of Marvel comics. But in that issue, I think it was an anniversary issue, I think it was no. 50 or 100 or something like that. And he crawls out of the sarlaac pit with no memory of who he is. Simon: That's right. And he meets Solo. Kevin: And he meets Solo, and they kinda team up. And then his memory comes back and he's like 'buh-buh-buh… it's YOU!' And they have this moment where they basically rewrite history and end it. Edgar: See, they could have made that as a low-budget Spaghetti Western film. Just that! Boba and Harrison Ford teaming up and then they get all these flashbacks all the way through, like High Plains Drifter, of some belching alien. I can't remember what happens. I'm a little rustier than I remember! Empire: There's a great short story in the EU where Boba and Han, an older Han, meet each other and basically it ends with them at gunpoint. Each other's gunpoint. It just ends like that. That would be great. Simon: There was a collectors' story. Tales From The Cantina, it was called. And it was all about the sort of Huttese bunch… Edgar: Bea Arthur? Simon: Yeah, Bea Arthur from the Holiday Special. (laughs – Kevin sings a burst of Bea Arthur) Edgar: It's like a Kurt Weill song, isn't it? Simon: It was all about him being trapped in the Sarlaac and his experiences there and getting out. And him sort of being trapped in there and being all delirious. It was good. Empire: You guys are all film-makers. Is that something that would excite you? Maybe in a TV series… there was talk, Kevin, of you doing a TV show. Kevin: Doing the TV show? Absolutely. Empire: And maybe getting a story each and doing it over an episode… Kevin: But would you be allowed to do that? That's the big question. No TV show is ever going to work unless that dude says 'go, do whatever you want. I'm done.' He maintains that he's done now that he's told… it used to be nine and now it's down to six, and probably rightfully so, because where do you go after Jedi? The Empire is vanquished. Simon: How can you go back anyway, because all the actors have… Kevin: Aged. Which you could do, but why bother? It's like what, something replaced the empire? The Rebellion went corrupt? So it makes sense that he ends it at 6. But there is so much grey area, there is so much fill-in area that a TV show could explore. You could go nuts with it. But as long as he's going 'I don't care, do whatever you want', that would be the only way it would be appetitsing. Simon: As long as it wasn't some rehearsal ground for new special effects, like the Indiana Jones show was, which was essentially Lucas testing out his hardware for the new Star Wars films. Because they were pretty boring. Kevin: But if you could get one really strong season out of it, one amazing season of 22 episodes of stuff like Tales from the Cantina. It wouldn't have to be Harrison Ford, you could get someone else to play Han Solo. But do the Boba and Han episode. Do a variation of Splinter of the Mind's Eye and stuff like that. Remember when people thought it was a true sequel? Edgar: Yeah yeah yeah. Empire: Just get 22 of the world's best film-makers and let them loose. Are you guys jealous that only Lucas gets to do Star Wars? Wouldn't you love to try? Kevin: It's his, so let him do it. Simon: But some of the best Star Wars experiences I've had since the first three films have been on the ancillary media, particularly the games. Particularly the Jedi Outcast game on the PC where you get to be a young Jedi and it's after Star Wars. You see Luke in the temple, and he's a bit older now and you're in really recognisable Star Wars places. There are no robots – 'roger roger' – none of that crap. It's Star Wars as you know it and you're running around with a lightsaber, kicking arse, and it's brilliant. Empire: For the three of you, what's your greatest Star Wars experience? Simon: For me, it was coming to see Return of the Jedi in London, from Gloucester where I grew up, which is in the West of England, it's countryside. And I watched it at the Dominion at the top of Tottenham Court Road, which was a cinema then, on a proper huge screen where the sound of the ships came from behind you. and coming to London as well, which was such a huge event. And the speeder bike chase, on a screen that big, was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. It was just fantastic and I'll never forget it. Edgar: I think it was the summer of Empire for me. I went to see it with my brother and we both had these cuddly teddy bears, or guinea pigs. And my brother during the film, which had a particularly bleak downer ending – I was six, he was eight – he lost his. So not only was it a really bleak downer ending, but he lost his teddy bear, as well! (laughs) he came out and he was going 'wwaaaaaaaaah! I lost Bluey!' and I was thinking 'And Han Solo's in carbonite! Waaaaaaaah!' (laughter) we were crying our eyes out. It made it a particularly bleak cinema experience. The speeder bike chase, on a screen that big, was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. It was just fantastic and I'll never forget it. Simon Pegg Empire: Has he seen it since? Edgar: Yeah, but he never found Bluey! (laughs) Simon: He had a fake Bluey, that he keeps in a black leather pouch. Empire: You should mount a rescue mission for Bluey, involving a Wookiee and… Kevin: Bluey's hung on some gangster's wall! You guys send somebody in dressed as a bounty hunter. 'Somebody who loves you, Bluey!' (laughs) Edgar: There's an evil usher who sits at home surrounded by the spoils of children. Empire: And Kevin, your experience? Kevin: I don't know. There was a moment when I saw attack of the Clones at a pre-screening, where Yoda comes and pimps around the corner before he goes 'Count Dooku'. And I had no idea, like, I did not know that he was going to have a lightsaber fight. And when he draws and lights up, I remember feeling – it was kind of a mixture of a press screening and a Lucasfilm staff screening. So there were press people there and there were people who worked on the film who were there with their kids. Empire: Was this at the Ranch? Kevin: this wasn't at the Ranch. This was in Los Angeles, down Century City. And when that lightsaber came out, I just remember it being one of those moments where I was like 'ohmigod, I'm so not this guy, but I'm gonna fucking scream!' But it's going to be drowned by the cacophony of other screams, so I was like 'Wooooooooooo!' And there's a point when I realised I was alone. Nobody's backing up the 'woooo!' I was committed, I was in, so I just kept going. So there was this bizarre transfer of power in my head where I thought 'I'm more reserved than this, I shouldn’t be doing it, but I'm gonna do it, because I'll be backed up by everybody else, but shit I'm alone, so I can either peter out – 'woooo' or I can just commit to the sheer fucking joy of seeing Yoda unsheath and finish my 'woooo'. So I finished my 'woooo' and I looked at my wife and she was like, 'do you feel better?' I said, 'actually I do.' (laughter) But that took me back to being a fucking kid. Very few moments that you get like that any more in movies. X-Men 2, when Wolverine finally fucking puts those claws into one of Stryker's soldiers in the mansion. That was another moment where, ohmigod, you've seen something that for years you've waited for or that you didn't see in the first movie, but it takes you right back to your childhood. It's primal. It took me right back to being a kid. And I don't know about anybody else, but very rarely do I feel like that now. Edgar: I felt like that the first time I saw Fellowship of the Ring, because I had grown up on those books. And it was in Gollum's first appearance in that prologue that me and my brother looked at each other and went 'AAAAAAAH!!' It was like 'Jesus Christ! It's Gollum!' Simon: And your brother was like 'Where's Bluey? I don't care about Gollum!' Kevin: 'For Christ' sake, you're thirty! [really bad British accent] Edgar: He'll love me telling that story. I remember going to see Matrix Revolutions. It was completely packed but it still had the feeling of a wake. Edgar Wright Simon: That's one of the things that compounded the Phantom Menace for me. I saw The matrix the day after and the lobby sequence did that for me. I was just sat there, clapping and laughing, and I had a similar thing with Yoda in Attack of the Clones because it was a similar kickback thing for me. And most recently I had it when Dash runs across the water in the Incredibles and that made me do that. But as you say, that's an incredibly rare thing but to have that in a different film altogether, the day after Star Wars, was quite a sobering experience for me. Kevin: Yeah, the Matrix would be a tough film to follow Phantom Menace with. I still think it's a good movie. I don't think it's perfect, but I enjoyed it for what it was. But I walked out of the Matrix and I was like 'ohmigod, those dudes rewrote mythology'. The way I'd have thought if I'd had that kind of education or that kind of vocabulary after walking out of the original Star Wars, when I was seven years old. He rewrote mythology, but I was like 'cool!' Simon: And then they went on to overshadow Lucas again, with just how much they fucked it up! (laughter) Kevin: Lucas was sitting there watching Matrix 2, going 'oooh boy, I'm off the hook!' Edgar: I remember going to see Revolutions when we were editing Shaun of the Dead. We took the afternoon off and went to see it on its first day, having hated the second one. But I thought 'well, let's go see Revolutions'. It was completely packed but it still had the feeling of a wake. Everyone had turned out but they knew it wasn't going to be good. And I took my assistant editor and as we sat down, the assistant editor turned to me and said 'do you know, I haven't seen the first two'. I said, 'this could turn out to be the longest two hours of your life'. Empire: It's like on The Phantom Menace when they keep it under wraps for so long, and then they release the soundtrack. 'Qui-Gonn's Noble End' 'Qui-Gonn's Funeral'… what? Kevin: Is funeral a different word in space? Edgar: I think if he makes one more Ewoks film, then he's done nine. Simon: what's the other ones called? Edgar: Caravan Of Courage and Battle For Endor. Kevin: No, the movie he needs to make right now to get to nine, to say that he fulfilled the promise he made aeons ago, is the Porkins movie. (laughter) The heavy-set need their own Star Wars, I believe, because that's the guy I identified with most when I saw those movies. I was like 'fat guy – yes!' Edgar: We nearly had him in Spaced. He's based in London. He's one of those American actors who's based over there and always in everything, like – who's the other one? Ed Bishop, who used to be in UFO. But there's kind of like those American actors based over here. Hootkins was our guy. Simon: William Hootkins, yeah. Empire: How close did you come? Edgar: Well, we didn't have him in it because we thought it would be distracting. Simon: yeah, but oddly just when we had a Star Wars cast member – apart from Pete, of course – we said no! Kevin: Who's your guy, the voice of Darth Maul? Edgar: Peter Serafinociwz. Kevin: Who does he play? Edgar: He plays Dwayne. How many episodes have you seen? Kevin: I'm into Season 2. I'm at the Phantom Menace episode right now. Simon: It's the paintball one. He's the guy who was my… in the first series. Kevin: So the guy who's in Shaun of the Dead? He's Darth Maul? Edgar: I know, it's amazing. Simon: He actually says in the fifth episode of the second series, 'At last I will have revenge'. Edgar: With red lighting on him. (laughs) We were so jazzed about Phantom Menace before it came out that we even took a line from the trailer, so assuming it was going to be amazing, that we kind of referenced ahead of ourselves. We filmed it in April, and the show came out after the film came out. Simon: Which is the bit where they buy a dog and she says what happens to the dogs that don't get bought. 'We put them down… all of them.' Edgar: And that was taken from the trailer! And then the film came out and it was a bit, 'ooh, ooh…' Empire: It's a cool line, though. Edgar: It is a cool line. Simon: we tried to get Star Wars stuff to have lying around the place for the first series, because Tim is a big Star Wars fan and he'd have every toy, and Lucasfilm were like, 'no, you can't have any of it'. They were being very tight. Edgar: There was an embargo at that point just before it came out. Simon: And then when we did the second series, the British wing of Lucasfilm had seen Spaced and realised how lovely and reverential we were about it all, and said you can have anything you want. Too late! Edgar: They said 'you can have anything you want, as long as it's not derogatory'. Well, hmm…(laughs) Kevin: 'Define derogatory!' Edgar: Did you see the bit with the funeral pyre? Where he burns all his Star Wars stuff? Because what I wanted was to have the Darth Vader carrier case on top of the funeral pyre, with this little plastic box melting. (laughs) I was even prepared to sacrifice my own one for the shot. Simon: But at the end of the day, despite all the disappointment and the complaints, I will still be there front and centre when it comes out with my fingers crossed. Because I still love it. I really do. Kevin: And you're only disappointed because you give a shit. You wouldn't be disappointed if you were like 'ah, it's only a fucking movie'. You're only disappointed because you care. I imagine it's like a preview of what happens if my daughter turns out to be pure shit. 'I had such high hopes for you! You started out so good!' (laughs) Empire: How do you guys express your fandom these days? Simon: I've watched all the extras on the DVD, but I haven't watched the films all the way through. I've watched the bits that they changed and it was lovely to see them looking so beautiful again. But I haven't watched a Star wars film for about two years now. I wanted was to have the Darth Vader carrier case on top of the funeral pyre in Spaced, with this little plastic box melting. (laughs) I was even prepared to sacrifice my own one for the shot. Edgar Wright Edgar: I have not got them on DVD. I have a bootleg of the original laserdiscs. (laughs) Kevin: I have those too. But I also picked them up on DVD. I had the bootlegs of the laserdiscs on DVD which I watched back to back about three years ago. And it was so hard because you're so used to the clarity of DVD. I used to be such a huge laserdisc supporter, and then suddenly watching muted, weird, sketchy herringbone laserdisc on a DVD felt really bad. But I tried to rewatch the original trilogy with harley, my daughter, when they first came out. She's five and a half, and we almost got through Star wars. But the Senate came up and she was fast asleep. She was way into the droids. For some reason that was huge for her. She loves the droids. And I kept wanting to get to Empire, because I'm like 'oh, you'll fucking love Yoda'. But she wouldn't make it all the way through. And she would kinda give it the college track for me. We'd be out and I'd say 'we should go back tonight and watch Star Wars 2' – you can't call it The Empire Strikes Back to a kid – and she would be like 'yeah, we should' and then she'd pop in My Little Pony instead. It's not quite Star Wars 2… Isn't it creepy wonderful how close Ewan McGregor looks to Alec Guinness at this point? In those shots, with the hair and the beard. Simon: He does really look like a young Ben Kenobi. Kevin: He really, really does. And finally all that vocal work and the positioning that he does, because he does a lot of the arm crossing and what not. Simon: [lower] A lot of his voice is like this all the time. Kevin: Yeah, but now he's got the actual look. Because the math is weird. How old is Anakin supposed to be in the last one? Empire: 22? 23? Kevin: And so how old is Luke when we meet him in Star wars? Empire: About the same. Kevin: So that dude that they popped the helmet off in Star Wars is about, what, 50? I guess he looked kinda 50. Simon: who could tell? He looked like an egg. Kevin: The first two Star wars movies are over, what, ten years? Simon: Ten? Well, it's nine for real. Kevin: Nine for real. But what is it in… Empire: I don't know. I've never understood the gap between Star Wars and Empire. Because you can imagine there's a gap of six months between Empire and Jedi. Simon: Well, Jedi is six months after Empire. Kevin: Who says? Simon: I read that somewhere. Kevin: On a fuckin' lollipop stick? (laughter) Simon: I think it's in the novelisation. Kevin: Six months? Six space months? Is that like God took six days to make the universe, which is really aeons? Empire: The timeline is fantastic in Empire, where han and Leia and Chewie go to Cloud City in a couple of hours from Hoth… Kevin: that's what it feels like. Empire: And Luke trains up in that same timeframe. Simon: we don't know how long they're in Hyperspace for. It could be weeks. Empire: Hyperspace is meant to be quick. It's like taking the Tube. Edgar: Do you think maybe it was written differently than that, and they edited it? Kevin: They probably didn't think about it. They probably didn't think anybody would pay that much attention. I mean, they kinda created geek culture, more so than Star Trek did. The Star Trek nerds are more into the philosophy of Star Trek, whereas Star Wars nerds are more about continuity and about how things match up. Edgar: I saw one of the things that was less exciting. They did it in return of the Jedi to make the Death Star seem more exciting by cross-cutting it with all the action sequences. But I thought the worst part of The Phantom Menace was that cross-cutting between three big action sequences does not make it more exciting. Kevin: Particularly when one of them is a fucking kid in a cockpit, accidentally shooting a spaceship. Empire: what does this button do? Simon: I know. Accidental stuff in the first one, like with Jar Jar in the first one accidentally getting a robot stuck to his leg. Terrible. Empire: See, that makes me laugh even now. I love Jar Jar. (laughs) Simon: It's like Austin Powers. When you talk about Austin Powers, it's so much funnier than it is when you watch Austin Powers. Empire: Favourite moment? Kevin: 'I love you, I know' has always been my favourite. Edgar: Yeah. See, you picked the coolest one already! (laughs) Kevin: That is the best moment in the series. It's got everything going for it. You've got the visual representation of sci-fi, you've got kind of classic romance at the heart of it. That's a fucking movie moment. That doesn't happen in real life. Nobody says 'I love you' and says 'I know' back, that perfectly well timed, without getting punched in the nuts. That's a wonderfully cinematic moment, specific to that film and that genre. Edgar: I'd say then another Harrison moment. I’d say the original version of him running down the corridor, seeing some stormtoopers and running back. The original version – it didn't need another fifteen stormtroopers to make it funny! Oy! Kevin: Harrison Ford, that moment is echoed in Raiders of the Lost Ark… Edgar: And Temple Of Doom. Kevin: Yeah. Empire: Simon, your favourite? Simon: I think one of my favourite Star Wars moments is when Wedge saves Luke right at the end of the Death Star battle in the first one, when his X-Wing comes right towards the camera. In fact, they redid it on the Special Edition. I also love it when Luke says 'I got a little cooked, but I'm ok…' Kevin: It's amazing that he didn't show young Wedge. Empire: Maybe he's in the background. And favourite film? Kevin: Empire, hands down. Edgar: Empire. Empire is very nearly not just a perfect Star wars film but very nearly a perfect film, if not altogether perfect. Kevin Smith Simon: Empire, no question. Kevin: Empire is very nearly not just a perfect Star wars film but very nearly a perfect film, if not altogether perfect. Simon: The AT-AT attack, even now, looks amazing. And that's another one of my favourite bits, when they zoom right in on the leg and come out on the main thing. Kevin: That was a forerunner for the Jurassic Park water thing, just hearing the thud and then seeing the AT-ATs. Have you seen the avatar that just completely robs the AT-ATs of their majesty – the two humping AT-ATs. Somebody has it on our webboard, and it's like one AT-AT on top of another, humping like a dog. Edgar: Everybody said Empire strikes back. As a kid, Return of the Jedi. Yeah! When I was nine, I thought it was fucking amazing! Kevin: That's like liking Temple of Doom over Raiders of the Lost Ark. When I was a kid, I loved temple of Doom. And then you rewatch it and you're like 'ooh…' Simon: Jedi-bashing became quite fashionable. A lot of people said 'ooh, Return of the Jedi wasn't very good', but you know, it's got things going for it. Empire: The Emperor-Vader-Luke fight is amazing. Kevin: Yeah, and saving Han on tatooine… Simon: Just because of the Ewoks, which you can kinda see. Edgar: When I was nine and that Ewok threw that bola and wrapped it around his neck, that was amazing!I loved that! Empire: see, Jar Jar for kids now – good. Jar Jar for us – bad. Same with Ewoks for us. Kevin: Your father sat there watching that bola shit, going 'ugh!' (laughter) Oh, they've ruined it! Empire: But there's no part where Ewoks step in dog shit. Kevin: No Bantha poo there! Empire: Guys, do you have time for a photo? Simon: How wude! Empire: Wesa going home!


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