By Bryan A Westfall

To whoever was my boss 20 years ago today: Sorry, not sorry.

If reserved seating at movie theaters was a thing back then, I wouldn’t have had to call in “sick” to be sure I had a decent seat. I’d direct you to aim any judgment to the theater I went to, but apparently it’s now just some random parking lot full of trucks.

Since there isn’t anywhere to re-direct your judgement, let me explain. It had been 16 years since “Return of the Jedi” had been released. Star Wars fans had put the idea of any new films behind us, only to have George Lucas drop a Darth Vader origin story in our laps out of the blue.

I can’t say I had to see it opening day to avoid spoilers, since social media wasn’t a thing then. I just had to. I’m glad I did. Sitting in that theater (with an aisle seat only half way back 🙌) with die-hard Star Wars fans who ROARED when that “Lucasfilm” logo came up will be a memory I cherish forever .

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If you’re still feeling sour, I’ll stop by sometime and clear out some fitting rooms for you. In the meantime, I’ll share with you (and only you 😉) some fun moments from “The Phantom Menace” 20th Anniversary panel at this years Star Wars Celebration. Hope this helps smooth things over a bit.

Hosted by Warwick Davis, the panel featured actors from both the light & dark side of the Star Wars universe. Starting with the DARK SIDE, Ray Park talks about the moment those doors opened revealing Darth Maul ready to throw down:

After Warwick gives some grief to Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) for his sock fashion (their multi-panel ‘rivalry’ was the stuff of legends), Ahmed Best gives some background on the casting/discovery process for Jar Jar:

Earlier in the convention, Ian McDiarmid‘s maniacal laugh was heard on the “Rise Of Skywalker” trailer just before he sauntered out on stage. Speculation was obviously rampant about how The Emperor could be alive. Here, Ian goes into how emphatic George Lucas was that he was truly dead while filming “Return of The Jedi“, and how he was introduced again in the prequels:

Thankfully, J.J. Abrams has decided otherwise, and we’ll be getting more if Ian…in some shape or form.

Getting this off my chest after all this time has certainly made me feel loads better 😉. If there is still any sort of sting from my workplace betrayal from “A long time ago”, I’ll leave you with this happy, peppy little ditty from Weird Al about some “small fry” named Anakin: