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Perhaps the key moment in the second Star Wars prequel, Attack of the Clones, is “The First Battle of Geonosis,” where Mace Windu and a group of Jedi Knights are saved from Separatists by Yoda and the Republic’s new clone army. That was the first battle of what would become known as the Clone Wars and was part of then-Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’s secret plan to take control of the Republic by manufacturing a civil war. The battle featured a lot of Jedi Knights, so many that it would be pretty easy to sneak some well-known faces into the background without anyone noticing.
Reader Chris B. wrote in to ask if that’s what was done with the members of the pop group ‘N Sync:
I remember back when Star Wars Episode II was coming out I heard a rumor that the members of NSync would be playing Jedi Knights during the climatic final scene. You know, the one where Sam Jackson defiantly exclaims “This Party’s Over!” (hate that part). Anyhoo, if you could work some mojo and grab me an answer, I would be eternally grateful.
It appears as though the answer is yes, Chris.
‘N Sync, as you know, was a popular boy band from the late 1990s/early 2000s that launched Justin Timberlake to stardom (the other members were Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick).
They were working on the DVD release of their Popodyssey tour at the sound stage at Skywalker Ranch when Fatone kept talking about how the group’s members were huge fans of Star Wars. That information made its way to producer Rick McCallum, who said they could serve as extras during the film’s climactic battle.
George Lucas appears to have had no involvement in the group’s inclusion, despite popular variations of this legend that state he hired the band as a favor to his daughters Katie and Amanda (who would have been 13 and 20, respectively, at the time).
According to the group, Timberlake couldn’t make the December shooting date, and when it came time to actually do the scene, Bass had to back out, as well, giving his spot to Fatone’s brother Steve (Bass later recalled that it “broke my heart”). So Joey Fatone, Chasez, Kirkpatrick and Steve Fatone all filmed scenes as Jedi Knights.
However, when news of the cameo began to leak out in early 2002, there was a lot of uproar from Star Wars fans. It got to the point where Joey Fatone released a statement, saying, “I’m going to make it officially known that they dropped it because people made a big deal about it. We’re not going to be in it, and I’m not going to comment on it anymore.”
At the time, though, Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lucy Hale denied that a decision had been made, saying, The ‘N Sync guys were shot as extras, and whether they’re in or out won’t be determined until the final edit.” She specifically claimed Lucas would not be swayed by the public complaints. “George makes all his decisions himself. And the final edit of the film is what he determines it will be,” she said.
Whether or not that was the case, when the final edit of the film was released, the band members did, indeed, get cut. Adding to bad news for ‘N Sync fans, a couple of months after the news of their ill-fated cameo broke, the band went on a hiatus that has turned into a break-up.
The legend is…
STATUS: True (although the “Lucas did it to appease his daughters” part appear to be False)
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