248 days until Star Wars: Cheeky ‘Phantom Menace’ end credits lead to Jabba-sized mystery

Sometimes when you futz with a franchise, things get lost in the shuffle. Little details like, who exactly is voicing Jabba the Hutt?

No, seriously.

Back in 1977, actor Declan Mulholland found himself inadvertently playing the Hutt crime lord. Originally Mulholland was a stand-in, meant to be replaced in post-production with a stop motion creature. Due to budget constraints, this wouldn”t happen until Lucas released the Special Edition in 1997.

The insertion of a CGI Jabba to “A New Hope” has been a point of consternation for fans ever since. But like most of the Special Edition changes it was baked into the history of Star Wars, never to be closely examined again.

Until I saw this:

A screenshot from the end credits of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” in which it is proclaimed Jabba the Hutt played himself. As much as I”d love for Hutt Cartel to secretly be running Hollywood, that day is not yet here. So what”s going on?

At first I thought perhaps Jabba is listed as such because he has no lines in “The Phantom Menace” and merely lounges in a hedonistic manner over the podrace proceedings. But he has one line.

Okay, so it”s more of a guttural phlegmation than a “line.” Perhaps Lucasfilm merely lifted one of Jabba”s previous readings from the Special Edition of “A New Hope”? Luckily, I own the entire Star Wars saga on DVD and figured this mystery would be easily solved. I skipped ahead to the end credits, screencap finger at the ready. But Jabba wasn”t there at all.

Despite having an entire scene spoken in Huttese, no actor is listed in the end credits as the voice. There”s not even a tongue-in-cheek reference to Jabba playing himself. He simply does not exist. No one is listed as voicing him in either “The Phantom Menace” or “A New Hope” on IMDB. Even BehindTheVoiceActors.com has a “??” where these two films are concerned. (Larry Ward does receive credit on both sites for his turn as Jabba in “Return of the Jedi”)

So who is this mysterious voice actor – or actors – cast into the shadows for almost 20 years? Was it just someone who happened to be at the sound studio during a recording session? Is it an Easter egg ignored for two decades? If anyone out there has the answer, feel free to email harpy@hitfix.com and end your reign of silence!