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Star Wars for Earthlings

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It’s simple, really: Boy meets girl. They have twins. Boy acquires all-black wardrobe and voice of James Earl Jones. Confused? Don’t worry if the latest in the Star Wars saga—with its perplexing timeline (Attack of the Clones takes place 22 years before the original 1977 film) and morphing characters (that tyke from The Phantom Menace grew up to be Hayden Christensen)—has you crying, “Naboo who?” Some things never change, like outré hairdos and Anthony Daniels, 56, as C-3P0. “He still fits in that bloody suit,” marvels casting director Robin Gurland. “He should print an Anthony Daniels diet.” Director George Lucas, for one, insists he can keep track of his galaxy: “I pretty much have it all in my head.” For the rest of us, here’s a guide.

All in the family

SHMI SKYWALKER

Shmi (Pernilla August), a slave on the planet Tatooine, starts the star-crossed Skywalker story by giving birth to Anakin. Where’s Daddy? Don’t expect any interplanetary paternity suits: “It’s an open-ended question,” says Attack of the Clones casting director Robin Gurland.

ANAKIN SKYWALKER/DARTH VADER

Anakin ages from tot (Jake Lloyd) to teen (Hayden Christensen) to tyrant. “I hope I look like Jake,” says Christensen. As for Vader, “There’s only so much you can draw from a man behind a mask.”

Anakin woos Padmé

PADMÉ AMIDALA

After a term as queen of the planet Naboo, Amidala (Natalie Portman) pulled a Hillary: In Clones she’s a senator. With Anakin she’ll conceive Leia—who inherits her mom’s dynamic do—and Luke.

LUKE SKYWALKER

Does Luke (Mark Hamill) really resemble dad Anakin (Christensen)? “Only in that they’re both very good actors,” says Frank Oz, the voice of Yoda. Besides, “I have four kids and they all look different.”

PRINCESS LEIA

Raised apart from twin Luke, Leia (Carrie Fisher) fights Vader alongside him—but doesn’t find out they’re related until 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Which means romantically, she’s all Han’s.

Leia falls in love with Han Solo

HAN SOLO & CHEWBACCA

The wiseacre (Harrison Ford) and his Wookiee show up in Star Wars.

Friends and enemies

Owen and Beru raise Luke

BERU & OWEN

Luke’s aunt and uncle turn up as teens (Bonnie Piesse and Joel Edgerton) in Clones.

Obi-Wan mentors Anakin

OBI-WAN KENOBI

Ewan McGregor (young Obi) tutors Anakin; Alec Guinness (AARP Obi) guides Luke.

Yoda mentors Luke

YODA

In Clones the 874-year-old Jedi Master is computer-animated—and feisty. Warns costar Samuel L. Jackson: “Don’t make him drop his cane!”

Palpatine commands Darth Vader

PALPATINE

Return of the Jedi’s evil emperor starts out as a sneaky politico (same Ian McDiarmid, less makeup).

Qui-Gon Jinn mentors Obi-Wan

QUI-GON JINN

Obi-Wan’s Jedi teacher (Liam Neeson) perished in a Phantom Menace lightsaber battle. “He would’ve loved to figure out a way to come back,” says Gurland.

Yoda serves with Mace

MACE WINDU

A Jedi top dog, Windu (Samuel L. Jackson) sits with Yoda on the High Council and wields the saga’s only purple lightsaber.

Leia and Luke own the droids

R2-D2

C-3P0

The loyal droid Fridays featured in the later films served from the start: Anakin built C-3P0; R2-D2 worked for Amidala.