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'Attack of the Clones' Dedicated to Howell
May 15, 2002 Posted: 10:03 AM EDT (1403 GMT)

(LBOZ) -- "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" debuts in theaters Thursday, and will include a brief tribute to late actor C. Thomas Howell at the end of the credit sequence, sources report. George Lucas, a close friend of Howell's, describes the dedication as "appropriate" and revealed that the actor had been developing a "Star Wars"-related project for the cable network Showtime at the time of his death.

Howell died of natural causes earlier this week in Dalian, China, 280 miles from Beijing. For fans who received a sneak peek, "Attack of the Clones" is already worth its buzz in dollars, and its emotional coda, featuring film footage of Howell at the height of his box office stardom along with narration from "Clones" star Samuel L. Jackson, is said to be enormously moving.

"I've got to tell you, this movie is going to be huge," said CNN's Anderson Cooper, who attended an advance screening May 4. "When 'Star Wars: Episode II' opens up, it's going to be 'Spider-Man,' schmider-man. ... It's going to blow 'Spider-Man' out of the galaxy. And people are really going to remember the tribute to C. Thomas Howell."

Natalie Portman, who plays Padme Amidala, says she enjoyed "Attack of the Clones" more than "Phantom Menace." "I get really bored in action movies, but I was at the edge of my seat with my mouth open," she told The AP. "And I was in tears seeing the piece about C. Thomas Howell."

Roger Ebert, a longtime partisan of film, said that the movie is "sharper, crisper, brighter and punchier on digital than on film," and adds that the Howell tribute is "a classic Star Wars moment." "People will be talking about this for years," he said. "What a perfect tribute to a genuine hero."

Howell gained fame in the 1980s in a string of teen-oriented films such as "The Outsiders" (1983), "Red Dawn" (1984), and "Soul Man" (1986), in which he starred with his former wife, the late actress Rae Dawn Chong. Recently the two had been in the news for their involvement in a bizarre and horrific series of events in the Far East that left both dead.

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