Hayden Christensen just revealed a 20-year-old secret about Attack of the Clones
Jedi-turned-Sith, possible Chosen One, and linguist?
Star Wars is known for putting a lot of effort into its languages. Take, for example, the standard galactic language Aurebesh, which has an alphabet that can be decoded to understand Easter Eggs in Obi-Wan Kenobi. There’s also the sign language used by the Tusken Raiders in The Mandalorian, and Huttese was developed using the Indigenous language Quechua as an inspiration.
But not every language gets all this research. In fact, Hayden Christensen just revealed he’s responsible for one of the new languages we’re introduced to in Attack of the Clones.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter promoting his return in Obi-Wan Kenobi, Hayden Christensen revealed that his favorite prequel scene to re-watch is the one where Anakin and slave owner Watto meet again after 10 years.
The script had the dialogue written in English and then, in parentheses, it said: “in Wattanese.” It wasn’t until the day before we started filming that I went to George, and I was like, “What should Wattanese sound like?” And he was like, “Well, you know, so long as it doesn’t sound like English or any other language that might sound familiar. You can just make it up.”
So make it up he did, and the result was a bunch of gibberish that, impressively, doesn’t sound too out of character for an alien language in Star Wars.
Anakin is well known as a polyglot. Not only can he understand R2’s beeps and whistles, but in a Revenge of the Sith deleted scene he even speaks the droid’s language himself. It makes sense that he would have learned Watto’s language while growing up in his possession, but the in-universe elements aren’t nearly as interesting as the meta implications.
How many one-off Star Wars languages are made up on the fly? If we see a character speaking something other than Basic, are they given instruction or just told to speak in something unintelligible? It’s certainly a bold approach, especially in a world where Klingon and Dothraki are languages you can learn on Duolingo.
Maybe that oversight was simply a matter of not bothering to get a language expert in for a couple quick lines, a decision unlikely to be repeated now that Star Wars Disney+ shows are dominating the media landscape. The Star Wars universe is constantly expanding, and each new society in this rich galaxy deserves their own unique language.
But you can also just have the actors make them up and no one will notice for 20 years, apparently.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is now streaming on Disney+.