Samuel L. Jackson Loved Emulating Errol Flynn And Samurai Movies In Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones

For all of its faults and imperfections over the years, part of what makes "Star Wars" such an enduring franchise is its ability to keep capturing the imaginations of kids everywhere. For original trilogy fans, the lightsaber duel between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi or Luke's trench run through the Death Star were reenacted over and over again on countless playgrounds. Inspired by "Flash Gordon" adventure serials and samurai movies, George Lucas went back to his own childhood to tap into something timeless, and his original vision is still resonating with millions of people around the globe. 

For Samuel L. Jackson, wielding his trademark purple lightsaber as Mace Windu — the fiercest blade on Coruscant — in "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith" finally allowed the actor to live out a childhood fantasy of his own. Primarily known for more dialogue-heavy roles, Jackson had rarely been given the chance to branch out into action until he was cast in the prequels. Then, all Lucas required of him in "The Phantom Menace" was to sit around the Jedi Council and philosophize about the coming prophecy of little Anakin Skywalker. 

But when "Attack of the Clones" came around three years later, Mace Windu was unleashed at the battle of Geonosis and his skills as one of the deadliest Jedi Knights were revealed, giving Jackson his first hero moment in the series. Windu's battle with Emperor Palpatine in "Revenge of the Sith" gave Jackson a hero's death after holding his own with the secret Sith Lord. Thanks to "Star Wars," Jackson got to feel like a kid again, recreating the swashbuckler films that he and his friends were obsessed with growing up. 

The apprentice becomes the master

On the eve of the 2002 release of "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones," Jackson told Entertainment Weekly about finally getting the chance to emulate one of his film heroes:

"I got to do some things I always wished I could do watching Errol Flynn as a kid and the Hong Kong and samurai films. It was an interesting mix of fencing, kendo, and Chinese street fighting. I think the action scenes are a bit more exciting. Of course, I really can't say because I was, like, fighting a lot of stuff that wasn't there, so I'm interested in seeing how good I really am ..."

In the battle for Geonosis, it is painfully obvious that Jackson is fighting thin air before the finished effects were put in place. Windu does get a chance to behead Jango Fett right in front of his son Boba, which admittedly, is probably something that the dashing Errol Flynn may not have approved of. 

Matching up with Emperor Palpatine in his throne room was definitely a more valiant moment for Mace Windu, and the fight scene brought him right back to his childhood. "We had sticks and we fought through trees and off our porches and down hills and on our bicycles and everywhere else," reminisced Jackson in an interview. "And all of a sudden, I'm battling my way through three and four rooms, and it's kind of like, 'Finally,' you know?" 

The prequel era has continued to be an endless well of material for new projects over at Lucasfilm, but the films themselves haven't exactly aged well. Still, knowing that Jackson loved the way he went out in "Revenge of the Sith" makes Palpatine's sudden and fairly ridiculous transformation into the Dark Lord of the Sith a little easier to watch.