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Jedi Action
Having crafted an entire fighting style defining the prime of the Jedi for The Phantom Menace, stunt coordinator Nick Gillard returns to duty for Attack of the Clones.

In mapping out EPISODE II's epic battles, Gillard created an individual fighting style for each Jedi — even the extras — choosing from different martial arts and sword fighting techniques. Gillard calls the process of describing in detail the precise movements of the battles, "writing the lightsaber fights." "On other films, the fights are simply choreographed, but we needed something more for Attack of the Clones," he explains.

Gillard visited twenty Kendo schools and "fight clubs," where he interviewed over five hundred swordsmen to fill the Jedi positions. "I heard of one group that had been banned from the national competitions because they were way too aggressive," says Gillard. "When I heard that, I knew they could be right for us." Gillard found many of his Jedi at an Australian colony, Byron Bay, living in woods, "like in a scene from ‘Apocalypse Now."'

Gillard also focused on training Hayden Christensen, who had to convey Anakin's formidable skills with the lightsaber. "We need to see Anakin's flashes of brilliance, the man who will be Darth Vader in action," says Gillard. "He's more skilled than even ObiWan, and he always attacks."

Christensen, a talented athlete whose sports of choice are tennis and hockey, trained three to four hours a day with Gillard, wearing the ensuing bruises like badges of honor. "You don't feel like you've done your job unless you walk home with a few bumps and scrapes," the actor notes.

Christensen more than lived up to his character's promise and skills. "Not only is Hayden a brilliant actor, he's one of the most skilled athletes I've ever seen," Gillard enthuses. "To give you some idea of Hayden's abilities, he nearly creamed one of the great Kendo swordsmen in Australia. He was that quick."

While Christensen's training received most of Gillard's attention, the stunt coordinator also worked closely with Ewan McGregor, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Lee and Temuera Morrison. According to Gillard, McGregor's fierce-fighting Obi-Wan quickly returned to his Phantom Menace form, evidenced in a knockdown-drag out fight with Morrison's Jango Fett. Their Jedi vs. bounty hunter battle points to the difference in their styles. "Comparing bounty hunters with Jedi is like comparing a tiger with a shark," Gillard points out. "Within three feet, nothing can stop a Jedi. Bounty hunters fight from a long range, for as long as possible."

The fighting abilities of Jedi Master Mace Windu are second only to Yoda. "Mace's style is quite economic," says Gillard. "If he gets within range, there's no question — you're dead." Adds Samuel L. Jackson (who previously collaborated with Gillard on Shaft): "Nick's put together an incredible fight for me. And since Mace is the second baddest person in the universe, he's pretty efficient. No fancy sword twirling. He uses minimal energy ... and maximum lethalness."

Count Dooku's skills with the lightsaber are as lethal as Mace's. Dooku figures in one of the film's most carefully planned fight sequences, which impressed the actor who plays the charismatic separatist, master swordsman and former Jedi. "I'

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