Liam Neeson stole an iconic Star Wars line from Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L Jackson wanted to take on a famous moment when he joined the Star Wars cast. But then he found out Liam Neeson got there first.

Liam Neeson stole this famous Star Wars line from Samuel L Jackson

Everyone who turns up in a Star Wars movie will have a sci-fi fan wish list. They want to wield a lightsaber, obviously, and they also want to say “may the Force be with you”. Both Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson got this privilege in The Phantom Menace, but Jackson has a problem: Neeson got there first.

When Jackson joined Star Wars, he was very keen for Mace Windu to be first to say the iconic line “may the Force be with you”. When you put the Star Wars movies in order, The Phantom Menace is the first chronologically, meaning it’s entirely possible that the first Star Wars character to say it could be credited with inventing the famous phrase. Unsurprisingly, Jackson was keen to beat the rest of the Star Wars cast to that honor.

“To see it on the page when I first got those script pages it was like: ‘Oh man, I get to say the line’,” Jackson told Star Wars Insider way back in 1999. “And then it got to be: ‘It’s the first movie. I wonder if I’m the first person to ever say may the Force be with you’.”

Jackson’s intrigue, though, lasted only until he finally got to see the first of the three new Star Wars movies in the prequel trilogy. He explained: “And then I watched the film for the first time last night and Liam said it before I did. So I was like damn!”

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Mace Windu does indeed get to say the line but, as you can see from the supercut above, Qui-Gon Jinn beats him to the punch. These Jedi types can get very competitive.

But these things are pretty fragile anyway. As things stand, Qui-Gon Jinn could theoretically be framed as the creator of the phrase. However, the future new movies in the Star Wars franchise will spread in all directions through the timeline. Prequels to the prequels are inevitable.

James Mangold, for example, is directing a movie stretching right back to the start of the Jedi order. If one of those characters says “may the Force be with you”, they’ve beaten both Qui-Gon and Windu by centuries.

As for the first actor to say it on screen, that honor goes to Alex McCrindle. He played General Dodonna in the first Star Wars movie back in 1977, saying the line to the Rebel forces in a briefing before their attack on the Death Star.

Earlier in the movie, Obi-Wan Kenobi says “the Force will be with you… always”, but we’re not giving him that. We’re not sure the late Alec Guinness would have been too bothered, given his renowned contempt for the Star Wars world. He’d be quite happy for McCrindle, Jackson, or Neeson to take the crown from him.

Obi-Wan Kenobi nearly says the famous Star Wars line in A New Hope

If you love the galaxy far, far away more than Guinness did, we’ve got everything you need to know about the Star Wars series on the way, including the Andor season 2 release date. Check out our guide to what’s new on Disney Plus for more from the franchise.

You can also find out some behind-the-scenes info about one of the best movies of all time as we delve into why George Lucas hated Han Solo’s best line in Empre Strikes Back.