Looking for Anakin

Seven hundred tapes. Three hundred auditions. With bowl-haired moppets no longer the order of the day, the role of the Dark Side-tempted Anakin Skywalker became Hollywood's most sought-after in years. However, before Hayden Christensen got his hands on a fabled lightsabre, he had to fend-off this media-friendly lot...

Leonardo DiCaprio The undisputed media favourite, the "Titanic" star was considered a shoo-in from the off, though Leo played it down: "I've talked with George Lucas about it, but I haven't seen a script. We've just had one conversation." He sullenly commented he would "consider" playing Anakin, if asked. Well, only if it's not TOO much trouble!

Paul Walker "I was bummed out. I don't know how close I came to actually getting it," said "The Fast and the Furious" Walker. "Josh Jackson was apparently in talks, too. Part of me was thinking, "You'd better not get it over me!" At the same time, you're happy if he does get it rather than Hayden Christensen, some no-namer from Canada." Now, now...

Joshua Jackson "Me and every other white male actor between the age of 14 and 30" quipped the Dawson's Creek heart-throb, "I got to go and meet with the casting director, but I don't really know that there's an auditioning process for this. It's one of those things when [Lucas] wakes up one morning and says, "That's the guy." "

Ryan Phillippe Seductively menacing in "Cruel Intentions", Phillippe was long a hot favourite for the part: "There is a part of me that really wanted the role", Phillippe said, "and I got pretty far down to the final cut. I got to test with Natalie Portman. I'm seven years older than her, which was dubbed too old. At 29, I was an over-the-hill Anakin."

S Club 7's Paul Cattermole No, we're not kidding. Allegedly, and astoundingly, the ex-S Club popster made it down to the final FOUR despite his most prominent acting work being the heroically dreadful TV series LA 7. Perhaps Lucas was impressed by Paul's experience in a wholly fabricated world?