The Best Lightsaber Fight We'll Never See, According To Star Wars Stunt Coordinator Nick Gillard

"The Phantom Menace" isn't the most popular "Star Wars" movie, and in a lot of ways, the long-awaited prequel and first theatrical series entry since "Return of the Jedi" wound up being upstaged by "The Matrix" and its revolutionary action techniques in 1999. However, despite its many flaws, "Phantom Menace" does feature one of the most memorable lightsaber fights in "Star Wars" history. It's the two-on-one duel that pits the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his master, Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), against the double-bladed lightsaber-wielding Sith Lord Darth Maul (Ray Park).

The piece of music, "Duel of the Fates" by John Williams, goes a long way toward selling the scene, but according to Nick Gillard — one of the stunt coordinators who worked behind the scenes staging fights for the prequel trilogy — there's an even better "Star Wars" lightsaber fight fans never got to see. Gillard spoke to Entertainment Weekly in 2019, the debut year of the sequel trilogy ender, "The Rise of Skywalker," and the 20th anniversary of "The Phantom Menace." In the process, he revealed that "Revenge of the Sith" almost featured a fight where Obi-Wan would've gone toe to toe with six of General Grievous' bodyguards at once.

Lightsaber overkill

In "Revenge of the Sith," there does come a moment when Obi-Wan is facing off with General Grievous and four of his bodyguards, each of whom is wielding their own crackling, double-sided energy staff. Grievous orders, "Kill him," and his bodyguards advance on Obi-Wan, but then Obi-Wan just uses his Jedi powers to dislodge a huge ceiling fixture and make it fall on top of them, thereby crushing them and putting an end to any chance of a fight.

Evidently, the decision to have the scene play out this way was one that came about at the last minute. The aforementioned Nick Gillard said by way of EW that Ewan McGregor underwent weeks of fight choreography training to prepare for the six-on-one duel with Grievous' bodyguards and Obi-Wan. Time concerns and the inessential nature of the fight with respect to the overall narrative led director George Lucas to devise a quicker end to the bodyguards. As Gillard put it:

"It was the most complicated fight we ever did, and George said, 'I'm really sorry, I'm going to drop a container on five of them!'"

Darth Maul raised the bar for fights in the "Star Wars" franchise, but like his own lightsaber, that proved to be something of a double-edged laser sword. Instead of fighting six bodyguards in "Revenge of the Sith," Obi-Wan wound up dueling Grievous and his ridiculous four arms, each of which bore its own spinning lightsaber. By the time of the Disney era, "Star Wars" would be sticking cross guards on lightsabers and converting them to umbrellas and just generally trying to outdo itself with each multicolored new lightsaber duel.