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What the cast of the Star Wars prequels looks like today

It's been nearly two decades since George Lucas' Star Wars prequel trilogy arrived in theaters with first installment The Phantom Menace, delighting young children—and disappointing hardcore fans—all over the world. 

All three prequels were criticized for relying on computer-generated environments, awkward acting, questionable casting decisions, a more child-centric focus, and an overall lack of the things that made the original trilogy so great—none of which have helped the films age particularly well. But what about the actors and actresses themselves? Here's what the cast of the Star Wars prequels look like today, and what they've been up to since Anakin let the hate flow through him.

Jake Lloyd — Young Anakin Skywalker

Since his enthusiastic pod-racing days, the actor behind young Anakin Skywalker has had a pretty rough go of things. Jake Lloyd almost immediately quit acting, and it's well-documented that the now-adult Lloyd blames his Star Wars experience for ruining his life. Lloyd claims he was bombarded with interview requests, perpetually bullied in school, and the recipient of some serious fanboy hatred.

In an interview with Vulture, the man behind Luke Skywalker himself defended his film father. "I can't believe some of the things they wrote about the prequels," Mark Hamill said, claiming it's ridiculous how people went so far as to claim that the films "ruined their childhood." "I'm still angry about the way they treated Jake Lloyd," he continued. "He was only 10 years old, that boy, and he did exactly what George [Lucas] wanted him to do. It's just brutal. It's one of the reasons I would never let my kids be in show business. Wait until you're 18, because it's going to be an endless life of rejection, ridicule and unemployment"—which is pretty much exactly what happened to Lloyd.

In June 2015, Lloyd was arrested in South Carolina after leading police on a high-speed chase, resulting in the former actor crashing into some trees along the highway. Going by the name of Jake Broadbent, Lloyd was charged with failing to stop for officers, resisting arrest, reckless driving and driving without a license.

Hayden Christensen — Anakin Skywalker

Dubbed "Mannequin Skywalker" by a Lord of the Rings fanboy in Kevin Smith's Clerks 2 (NSFW), the actor behind grown-up Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith was—like young Jake Lloyd—the focus of the vast majority of negativity surrounding the prequels.

Following his role as Darth Vader's former self, Hayden Christensen's film prospects were minimal. Despite turning in a fairly remarkable performance in 2003's Shattered Glass, the negativity surrounding his stiff and clunky performance as Anakin didn't help the Canadian actor land roles, and aside from playing Bob Dylan in Factory Girl and Clay Beresford in Awake, he spent years keeping a relatively low profile.

Time heals all wounds, however, and in 2017, the actor showed up at Stars Wars Celebration—and was, surprisingly, treated to a very warm reception. "I didn't realize how much I missed all of you," he told his fans, even taking a fan's sarcastic question regarding his thoughts on sand—a joke about one of Skywalker's most notoriously bad lines—in stride, laughing it off and remarking that he understands why Anakin wouldn't be a big fan, having come from a desert planet and all.

Perhaps with the prequels now firmly in the past, we'll see the social-media shy Christensen in more films—and at more Star Wars Celebrations.

Natalie Portman — Queen Amidala / Padmé

Natalie Portman played one of the Star Wars prequels' most important roles, starring as Padmé Amidala, Anakin's love interest and future mother of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Already well known when she signed on for the prequels, Portman escaped much of the backlash suffered by her costars Jake Lloyd and Hayden Christensen—but it took a lot of luck and perseverance.

"Star Wars had come out … and everyone thought I was a horrible actress," she told New York Magazine. "I was in the biggest-grossing movie of the decade, and no director wanted to work with me." Thanks to director Mike Nichols' recommendation, however, Portman went on to shine in Cold Mountain—which led to V for Vendetta, Closer, The Other Boleyn Girl, Black Swan, and other quality films.

Portman, who's now one of the industry's more respected talents, once told the host of Jimmy Kimmel Live! that she won't show the prequels to her kids. "It's kind of a shame," she told Kimmel. "You know, when I made it, I was like, 'This is going to be the coolest thing. One day when I have kids, I can show them.' … [But] I realized, I die in the movies. I feel like it's kind of a scary thing to show your kid." In classic Kimmel fashion, he joked, "You can't show him Black Swan either, I guess." Now that would be scarring.

Liam Neeson — Qui-Gon Jinn

While The Phantom Menace received a lot of negative attention for failing to live up to many adult fans' expectations—and for apparently breaking Patton Oswald's cinema addiction—Liam Neeson's portrayal of Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is widely considered to be one of the film's high points.

Neeson was already well-established before playing Obi-Wan Kenobi's mentor, and he continued to star in blockbuster films after Darth Maul put an end to his lightsaber-wielding days, playing "Priest" Vallon in Gangs of New York, Godfrey de Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven, Zeus in Clash of the Titans, Ra's Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises, and the man with the particular set of skills, Brian Mills, in all three Taken movies—just to name a handful of highlights. Don't expect Neeson to stop acting anytime soon.

Neeson also knows how to troll. At Star Wars Celebration in 2017, he spilled the beans on a yet unannounced Star Wars film in the pipeline. In a pre-recorded speech, he said, "I'm actually here on location in the Canadian Mountains; we're making a movie—a very unofficial movie—about Jar Jar Binks, and what happened to Jar Jar. Spoiler alert: he did go to the dark side." He was just making a joke about the popular fan theory claiming Jar Jar Binks was actually an undercover Sith lord, but it sure would be awesome to see Neeson in another Star Wars film…just maybe without Jar Jar.

Ewan McGregor — Obi-Wan Kenobi

After playing mentor to Anakin Skywalker, Ewan McGregor went on to star alongside Scarlett Johansson in The Island, as well as star in Angels & Demons, The Men Who Stare at Goats, Jack the Giant Slayer, and the Fargo television series, among others, but everyone's still obsessed with his time as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

These days, McGregor can't seem to get through a single interview without being asked whether he'll be reprising his role in future Star Wars films. The Scottish actor told MTV that he'd "be up for it, for sure, of course," in 2013. A couple of years later, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, he again reaffirmed his interest, telling Edith Bowman that he'd "be happy to do the story from episode three where I finish up and Alec Guinness starts."

In April 2017, the actor told Entertainment Weekly, "I've always said that I'd be happy to do it if they wanted to do it. It would be a good segue between the last episode of the prequels and the new episodes." A month later, he told Jimmy Kimmel, "I've been asked this question so many times, and I answer the questions when I'm asked them because I've been brought up like that, polite. And it's gotten to the point where it looks like I'm touting for work at Disney's front door. Like, 'Give me the Obi-Wan spinoff,' you know."

Oh, we know! Seriously, Disney — get on it.

Ian McDiarmid — Senator Palpatine

Ian McDiarmid may be most internationally known as the evil Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars prequels—as well as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi—but he's actually a very accomplished actor of the British theatre. He's starred in a long list of theatrical productions, and won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for his role in Faith Healer. He's also directed his fair share of plays. Nevertheless, McDiarmid will always be best remembered for playing the galaxy's most evil man in Star Wars episodes I-VI.

At Star Wars Celebration 2017, the man behind the electric-fingered Sith Lord recently revealed what he finds to be his character's most evil scene. "Of all of the deliciously evil scenes—and there are many—the one that stands out for me is in Revenge of the Sith," he told CinemaBlend, "and that's when we all get to go to the opera." Being a man of the theatre, the opera was the perfect place for McDiarmid to have an extraordinarily evil heart-to-heart with Hayden Christiansen about Darth Plagueis the Wise and the power of the Dark Side. "And I think it's one of the longest dialogue scenes in the whole of the saga," McDiarmid remarked.

Since turning Anakin evil, McDiarmid has appeared in City of Vice, 37 Days, and Utopia. Most recently, the character actor played King Pellenor in Britannia.

Ahmed Best — Jar Jar Binks

It's safe to say that Jar Jar Binks is the most hated character in Star Wars history—a fact not lost on Ahmed Best, the actor who played the childish Gungan.

In an interview with Jamie Stangroom for the YouTube series These Are The Actors You're Looking For, Best put a very human face on the infamously stupid computer-generated companion. For example, that annoying voice everyone hated so much was actually one of the voices Best used when reading storybooks to his younger nieces, nephews and cousins. Kind of sad, right?

The backlash generated by Best's character was definitely brutal, and the actor candidly admits that he was surprised by the hate Jar Jar received. He called the whole thing "painful," since he put a lot of energy and his own personality into the character. Nobody likes to have their work universally hated. That being said, he understands why so many fans disliked the character, as he knows better than anyone how Jar Jar was created entirely for children—who did respond favorably. Adult fans, however, felt it was condescending.

Today, Best still provides the voice work for Jar Jar Binks, as he has on the Robot Chicken: Star Wars series, Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes OutStar Wars: The Clone WarsStar Wars: Detours and Star Wars: Underworld. Just don't expect Disney to launch a dedicated 'Jar Jar is a Sith Lord' film anytime soon.

Samuel L. Jackson — Mace Windu

Easily one of the most prolific actors to appear in the Star Wars prequels, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in well over 100 films. He's well known for his collaborations with famed director Quentin Tarantino—including Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight—as well as his roles in Die Hard with a Vengeance, Unbreakable, Shaft, Black Snake Moan, and Snakes on a Plane. Of course, he also played Mace Windu, who had some limbs cut off before plummeting to his death on the mean streets of Coruscant.

Jackson refuses to admit defeat, however, and still continues to claim that Windu—at least in his mind—isn't dead. In addition to arguing that George Lucas only had Windu killed because he was the only one whose death would actually mean something, Jackson pointed out that Jedi can fall from great heights and still survive. He also noted on radio show EW Morning Live that "there's a long history of one-handed Jedi." According to Jackson's canon, Windu's just been hiding out and biding his time, like fellow Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi. Lucas himself is apparently cool with that theory…though, to be fair, he's probably cool with a lot of things since selling Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion.

Will we see Windu pop up again in another Star Wars movie? Perhaps—if Disney ever gets around to making the perpetually-rumored Obi-Wan spinoff films. Until then, you'll just have to settle for Jackson as Nick Fury.

Anthony Daniels — C-3PO

Anthony Daniels isn't a fan of actors who don't play droids the old-fashioned way.

According to Alan Tudyk, who plays Rogue One's K-2SO, Daniels has some strong opinions on using motion-capture technology when portraying droids. When they met on set, "Daniels went on about the suit that he had to wear and that 'originally they put screws in my head and they closed it' and he had to be on this thing," Tudyk told Conan O'Brien. "He said, 'Wait a minute, are you wearing an actual robot costume, or are they doing it in motion capture?'" Upon realizing Tudyk was doing mo-cap, Daniels replied, "you s—-!" But that wasn't all. Daniels apparently said "f— you" to the K-2SO actor at the premiere's afterparty. Strong words!

Daniels' opinions don't stop there. He's referred to the prequels as "cold" and "bleak," and isn't a particularly big fan of Ewoks. And though he sung Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams' praises to The Guardian, he likened Disney's obsession with secrecy to that of "Kremlin attitude." "For heaven's sake, it's a movie," Daniels said. "When I got the script, it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn't photocopy it. I got a hangover just reading it."

Since the days of the prequels, Daniels has continued playing and voicing C-3PO in anything and everything with the Star Wars name attached, including the Lego Star Wars series, Star Wars: Rebels, and the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials.

Pernilla August — Shmi Skywalker

Though most widely known for her role as Anakin Skywalker's mother, Shmi Skywalker, in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Pernilla August is a highly accomplished actress in the Swedish film industry, having won the 1993 Guldbagge Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her part in Den goda viljan (The Best Intentions), while also taking home the coveted Festival de Cannes Award for Best Actress.

Since playing Luke Skywalker's biological grandmother, August has appeared in a whole slew of foreign films, including Detaljer, Om jag vänder mig om, and Dag och natt, as well as more internationally known projects like Rancid, Kenny Begins, Miss Kicki, Call Girl, and Gentlemen. She also played the title character in the 1999 TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus, meaning August has officially played the mother of two famous children—except one turned out to be Our Lord and the other turned out to be a child-slaughtering Sith Lord.

Ray Park — Darth Maul

Since playing his most well-known role as the horned Sith badass with the coolest double-bladed lightsaber of all time, Ray Park has played Toad in X-Men, Chuck Norris in The Legend of Bruce Lee, the security guard who "mauls" the title characters in Fanboys, Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Edgar in the popular television series Heroes, and—lest we forget to mention—Mr. D in Potheads: The Movie.

It's unlikely that Park, an accomplished martial artist and stunt double, will ever play a role cooler than Darth Maul—undoubtedly one of the most memorable characters ever created in the Star Wars universe, as evidenced by the millions of kids who dress up like the Sith samurai for Halloween every year. When catching wind from Star Wars fans of Maul's possible return in the Han Solo prequel film, Park told Toronto Sun he was excited. "I'm like, 'All right, maybe they will ask me back. My nose is still big, and my ears are still the same, and I still know how to handle a lightsaber."

Fingers crossed, right?

Temuera Morrison — Jango Fett

Since playing Jango Fett, the most dangerous bounty hunter in the galaxy, Temuera Morrison has played Te Kai Po in River Queen, Hone Ropata in Shortland Street, Abin Sur in Green Lantern, and Thomas Curry in Aquaman. But have we seen the last of Morrison in the Star Wars universe? Probably not.

Rumors have circulated surrounding the possibility of Morrison playing the title character in the eventual Boba Fett standalone feature. And though nothing is official, these rumors are definitely something worth holding onto. Morrison has already voiced Fett in the Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II video games, and since he's a clone of his adopted father Jango, the fact that both characters look exactly alike is a given. Actually, it would probably be weird if Boba Fett wasn't played by Morrison, when you really think about it. Nevertheless, Morrison's involvement in future Star Wars films is still pure speculation at this point.