Sinds hij in 2013 werd aangenomen als Creature Concept Designer is de brit Jake Lunt Davies verantwoordelijk geweest voor diverse nieuwe ontwerpen die in The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi én Solo te zien zijn: zo zijn BB-8, Pao, Vober Dand, Rey’s speeder, de Porgs, PZ-4CO en Ello Asty allemaal van zijn hand.
Speciaal voor deze site en mijn eigen site (StarWarsInterviews.com) deed Jake een interview waarin hij zeer uitvoerig ingaat op de grote vraag waarom er zo weinig bestaande aliens lijken terug te keren én uitleg geeft hoe diverse van zijn creaties zijn ontstaan. Dit, en nog veel meer, lees je allemaal in onderstaand interview.
Interview met Jake Lunt Davies
A long time ago… something inspired you to become a designer. I’d like to hear how it al started.
Since I was a child I’ve been drawing – I’d draw cars, spaceships and creatures. I was torn between wanting to be a car designer or movie production designer when I grew up. With films I’d always been fascinated by how they were made, what went on behind the scenes. I loved the special effects, the models and matte paintings. I loved the concept of the perfect artifice that was contained within the frame and that there was all this other stuff going on just out of sight. And with sci-fi films you had this freedom to create whatever you wanted – as a kid I remember designing my own new versions of spaceships and creatures for imaginary future Star Wars movies beyond Return of the Jedi. If I’d only known how things would work out one day!
How did you get involved with Star Wars and start designing all these creatures and droids for the movies?
I’d worked with Neal Scanlan on and off from 2000 to maybe 2005 doing design work. Our careers diverged after that – I was focusing more on work in commercials, storyboarding, design and subsequently some directing and I think Neal was doing more prosthetics and SMUFX. By the summer of 2013 I don’t think I’d been in touch with Neal for five years when he phoned me out of the blue to tell me he’d got Star Wars and was looking get some concept designers on the team.
Your biggest hit is without a doubt the Porgs. Fans love them and they’re also a commercial success. Could you tell something about the whole creative process of the creation of these creatures?
Yes, they have been somewhat commercially popular haven’t they? But as much as their presence might be seen to be a cynical marketing ploy purely to sell toys, they were never originally created to be that. Skellig Michael, the location for Ahch-To, is a UNESCO protected site and wildlife preserve…and quite liberally covered in puffins, either dotted about in the background or flying around the cliffs. Physically removing them was impossible and digital removal would have been a lot of work, so I think Rian decided to look at how he could work with this by introducing our own indigenous species. The idea was that we’d have these ‘throwaway’ background creatures crop up in various shots that would validate the real puffins you see in the wide landscapes of the island. Rian also saw that they might then be able to provide small moments of levity to the scenes on Ahch-To such as the Porgs investigating the discarded lightsaber or annoying Chewie in the Falcon’s cockpit. The brief was that the size of the creatures would obviously have to be in the region of a puffin and might want to have some similarly striking markings as they have on their beaks. I drew a few a pages of sketches – lots of little ideas looking at different aquatic and avian sources, such as otters, beavers, seals and seabirds. I probably got the essential Porg shape somewhere within these first few attempts. There’s an ethos of simplicity in the design of Star Wars that we try to adhere to (and maybe sub-consciously do anyway) – a clean recognisable silhouette, a shape that any child can draw and you’d know what it is meant to be. I’d been looking at seals, puffins and pug dogs, sketching these little ovoid shapes with big eyes sat right at the top of their heads and funny down-turned mouths that gave them a sort of sad yet neutral face. And it was these that Rian was drawn to.
The best droid design in the new movies is in my opinion PZ-4CO. To me, it looks like an Egyptian Anubis head inspired design. Since 2015 I’ve been wondering if that is where you got the inspiration from?
I suppose there is some Anubis-like quality to her design – the long face and the suggestion of ears. But I’m afraid it wasn’t an influence. I’d been playing with the idea that there could be C-3P0 type protocol droids that wasn’t necessarily human and would be used to specifically interact with another alien species. So I was drawing a lot of aliens and extrapolating a droid design out of them. Somewhere deep in vast amounts of artwork that have never been seen are some alien designs that share a look with PZ-4CO. Also, we did tweak the costume design for The Last Jedi – on The Force Awakens the neck ended up being bit too long compared with the original design so on The Last Jedi we got the opportunity to reduce it.
My favorite alien you created is Pao! What can you tell about the creation of him?
Pao started off as a wild looking tribesman for an abandoned scene in The Force Awakens. With a huge mouth and tiny eyes lost deep in angry wrinkles framed by a long mass of wild hair, he was only semi-clad in something like a grass skirt with tattoos covering his blue skin and clutching two or three throwing spears. There was going to be a scene in Rogue One with a tribe too and I represented the design again. That scene was also abandoned but Gareth really liked the core look of this alien – basically the big mouth – and he asked if I could redevelop him into a rebel fighter. So I tried to keep the silhouette of the long hair that the original design had by replacing it with a hat and havelock (neck flap) and giving him a more rebel like outfit, topped off with a long rifle. On a practical level, how we worked the performer Derek Arnold into the head is pretty cool. Pao’s mouth interior extends back around Derek’s face and cheeks so that when Pao’s mouth is wide open you are actually looking right back into Derek’s open mouth. The only way Derek can see is through slits hidden in the ridges of the roof of Pao’s mouth – so when the mouth is shut, Derek is blind and totally reliant on radio communication from the puppeteer operating Pao’s face.
The new movies feature a lot of great aliens. Still, a lot of fans wonder why so many new creations are in the movies instead of a more balanced mix of new and old, existing aliens. Do you know the reason for this?
I hear this question a lot and it is something that actually does get considered on all the movies we’ve worked on. Firstly, thanks for the appreciation for what we have contributed to the new movies! I think people forget that with the Original Trilogy, there wasn’t actually that much continuity of alien species from one movie to the next – off the top of my head the only one I can think of was Greedo in A New Hope and a Rodian dancer cropping up in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. The Prequels were better in that respect and you did get to see more Twi’leks and Rodians; and Rebels has continued brilliantly by having loads of Rodians and Ithorians as background characters. The thing is with these though is that they have had a certain ‘luxury’ of being digital or animated so adding a bunch of alien extras doesn’t have the logistical implications shooting practical does. For every creature we create it requires a suit performer, a puppeteer if it needs an animatronic face, an animatronic designer to build the mech, a fabricated alien body suit, a costume tailored for that shape plus all the sculpting, moulding, paint and hair to make it a reality. So the director really needs to want that alien in his film from the outset. And you also have to put yourself in the place of the director. Imagine you were given the chance to direct a Star Wars film…wouldn’t you want to use the opportunity to make the film your own; to introduce some cool new aliens? Anyway, as I said before, having ‘legacy’ aliens is something that has actually been considered for each film but unfortunately many have fallen by the wayside (along with many, many of our new designs!) during the production process with scenes being cut before the shoot and after filming in the edit. A few that did make it were the Mon Calamari in The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi; the Hassk that appeared in a Ralph McQuarrie Cantina concept were made for Maz’s Castle in The Force Awakens; and Twi’leks and Ponda Baba were made for Rogue One. We’ve also tried to create some continuity with the new species in the new films and you do see some recurring faces. One species in particular is the Abednedo, most notably the pilots Ello Asty and C’ai Threnalli. When I was working on The Force Awakens, I really wanted there to be at least another species that could have the ubiquity of humans in the SW universe. JJ had responded quite well to an early Abednedo sketch and I decided to draw a multitude of different versions – as scavengers, townspeople, bar patrons, pilots, etc. and bombard him with them at every presentation. And it worked – you can see them on Jakku, as a senator on Coruscant, Slowen Lo on Canto Bight and the aforementioned pilots. Anyway, I hope that what you can take from all this is that the inclusion of aliens from the previous movies is not something that is being ignored and that hopefully the balance will be redressed in the future!
You were heavily involved in the creation of BB-8. Christian Alzman did some designs but it was you who eventually realized the final model. What kind of ‘typical Jake Lunt Davies touches’ did you add to this droid?
Yes, BB-8 was the sum of a lot of peoples input – from the initial sketch by JJ, through Christian’s development and my final design. And even that was born out of the development of the puppet under Neal Scanlan’s supervision. As our team worked out how the puppet would be made, move and be operated, we tried out various different pattern structures on the ball of the body. The combination of the core arrangement of the six panels, their size in relation to the overall sphere and their offset positioning to the axle on which the ball rotates all worked together to maintain a texture to the body as BB-8 rolled – i.e. the pattern was bold enough not to just blur into nothing – and create the impression of an omni directional movement. As far as the details go, I don’t think I was trying to add any of my personal touches to the design. I was very focused on trying to make BB-8 feel as Star Wars as possible, that he would feel like a believable progression of an astromech droid design. When I came on board he had a much more anthropomorphic face, with two eye lenses and the suggestion of a mouth. I pushed to lose the mouth and make the lens arrangement more asymmetric, with a focus to being mainly on the single eye. Christian had already set the tone for the use of orange colour accents on the head and I continued to carry this over into the body with the rings on each panel, designing individual arrangements of tech within each one. All in all I feel the final design of BB-8 succeeds in fitting completely with the Star Wars aesthetic.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while working on the new Star Wars movies?
Well I suppose the thing is that we are designing not just for a movie but for this bigger thing that is Star Wars. Knowing we are contributing to something that means so much to so many people on so many different levels, that our designs can live on beyond the moment of the movie and have to stand up to scrutiny and analysis can sometimes be an added factor to the process.
If you could redo an alien, character or vehicle from the original trilogy or the prequels… which specific one would you choose?
As I discussed earlier in regards to the inclusion of classic designs in the new movies, we did look at some and some did get made. For example we remade the 2-1B, the medical droid from ESB, for Rogue One and there were elements of the original that were a bit rough and ready or inconsistent that had to be worked on. So while he looks the same at a glance, he’s got a tighter design around the eyes and fresh detailing on the shoulder joints. You never saw his feet in the movie and researching them threw up various different versions – as far as I was concerned, my take on his feet was what I knew from the action figure I had as a kid. So that’s the look we went with in the end. Otherwise this is quite a tough question to answer. I’m not sure there’s anything in particular I feel the need to redesign – they are what they are. But I suppose if there’s one detail I’ve never been happy with its the back of Luke’s landspeeder – its great all round until you get to the point where the side jet pods sweep into the back and they are just a bit clunky, lacking in detail and out of keeping with the rest of the vehicle.
Of all the things you’ve created for Star Wars, what do you regard as your best work and biggest achievement?
I think I’m pretty pleased with the success of BB-8, Rey’s Speeder and the Porgs…if I can say three things.
Several new Star Wars projects have been announced: a trilogy created by Rian Johnson, a TV series, new movies written by Benioff and Weiss… I guess you won’t be without any Star Wars related work for the next few years?
Who can say – it would be great to continue contributing to the Galaxy.
And we appreciate your work… thanks for the interview!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…
Exclusief interview met Alan Austen (Stormtrooper & Bespin Guard)
Brits acteur Alan Austen speelde maar liefst drie rollen in The Empire Strikes Back. Stormtrooper (op bovenstaande foto is hij de trooper rechts van Carrie Fisher), Bespin Guard én (de handen van) Han Solo. Speciaal voor StarWarsInterviews deed hij onderstaand interview, wat volgens traditie ook hier te lezen valt.
Interview met Alan Austen
How did you get cast as a Stormtrooper and as the double of Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back?
I joined Central Castings and The Film Artistes Association in early 1979. Being cast as a stormtrooper in The Empire Strikes Back was all down to luck for me. I was the correct height and age. I was already on set playing a Hoth rebel when I was asked to try on the stormtrooper costume. I fitted and I was able to walk around in it, so I was cast. Doubling for Harrison came about after the production team realized that they needed some filler shots of Han Solo. Harrison had already gone back to the U.S.A. so I was asked to double for Han Solo.
I read that in The Empire Strikes Back there are some close-up shots of Han Solo’s hands where they’re not Harrison Ford’s hands but yours. In which scenes can we see you as Solo?
Yes, my hands doubled for Harrison’s in several scenes. Due to the editing, it’s very difficult to tell them apart. I remember that I had to push buttons and flick switches.
Had you seen the first Star Wars movie before you got cast?
No, I had never seen the first Star Wars movie. Of course, now I have seen it several times and never tire of watching it. That goes for all of the original trilogy movies.
What do you recall of the shooting of your scenes?
So much stands out. Of course the Cloud City shoot out is vivid in my memory and also the carbon chamber scenes. The main thing was being able to run and hit marks whilst wearing a storm trooper helmet.
What would you regard as your best memory from The Empire Strikes Back?
I only did one Star Wars movie. So many cherished moments from The Empire Strikes Back. The lifelong friendships that I made, the laughs and fun that we had on and off set. A great conversation that I had with Billy Dee Williams. The fun moments with Carrie!
What did you talk about with Williams and what were those fun moments?
The conversation with Billy was him giving me advice about acting and working on movies. No personal stuff. Carrie was just constant fun always laughing and joking. No more to say other than that.
You have been in the convention circuit for some years now. What do you like the most about being a guest and what is the most remarkable or craziest thing that happened at a show?
Yes, I love doing the conventions, they are most enjoyable. A stand out moment was at a convention in The Netherlands when two stormtrooper cosplayers danced together in their costumes. This was videoed on someone’s phone and then watched by eight Star Wars actors on the flight home.
Besides Star Wars you have been in several movies including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon, James Bond: Octopussy. What do you regard as the highlight of your career?
The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark are the highlights. Later on I worked in British tv drama but nothing ever lived up to those two movies.
The Empire Strikes Back is not only considered to be the best of all the Star Wars movies by many fans. Actually, it is even considered to be one of the best movies overall. How does it feel to have been a part of this?
I am very honored to be a part of The Empire Strikes Back. However, I realize that I was and am very lucky. I am fully aware that it was a question of right place right time. I just hope that I lived up to the opportunity! I think I did.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Exclusief interview met John Mogridge (Snowspeeder pilot)
Vechten tegen de Imperials op Hoth, Han Solo naar de Carbon freeze leiden én The Emperor onthalen op de Death Star. Brits acteur John Mogridge deed het allemaal. In The Empire Strikes Back is hij namelijk te zien als Snowspeeder piloot en Stormtrooper terwijl hij in Return of the Jedi een Death Star Gunner speelde.
Speciaal voor mijn eigen site StarWarsInterviews.com deed John Mogridge het volgende interview waarin hij terugblikt op zijn Star Wars tijd. Zoals gebruikelijk is het interview ook hier te lezen: op StarWarsAwakens.nl!
Interview met John Mogridge
How did you started your career in the movie business?
I joined the F.A.A. (Film Artistes Association) and the Central casting agency in November 1978. The Empire Strikes Back was my second film. You got work by phoning the agents and asking if there were any work “Calls”. They’d say Empire Strikes Back, Elstree studios, 8AM. That’s how I got my first day on The Empire Strikes Back. That was March 1979.
Can you tell how you got cast as a Snowspeeder pilot and snowtrooper for The Empire Strikes Back?
I arrived on my first day and the 2nd assistant director, Steve Lanning, gave me my daily salary voucher (we call it a Chit) with the title “Rebel” on it. I was a rebel for a while. Then they wanted snowspeeder pilots and he gave me that job. I did that until the end of May or the beginning of June. Then I was given the Snowtrooper role. That was only for a short time and finished my on and off run on The Empire Strikes Back as a stormtrooper in the carbon freezing chamber and Bespin cloud city scenes.
Three years later I got the call for Revenge of the Jedi as it was called at the time. I only played an Imperial gunner on that film in the Emperor’s arrival scene.
Did you see the first Star Wars movie before you got cast? What did you think of it?
I took my brother to see the original Star Wars film and really enjoyed it. I was lucky enough to get the autographs of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill and Dave Prowse for him when I worked on The Empire Strikes Back.
You’re one of the Snowspeeder pilots in the scene where Carrie Fisher gives the pilots instructions. What are the other scenes in which we can see you?
Some memorable scenes. The carbon freezing chamber seemed very high and a bit sinister compared to the bright and shiny cloud city set. I did a lot of filming with the second unit being directed by John Barry. Sadly, he was taken ill one day and died the next. A lot of people were upset by that. He was a nice man.
What do you recall of the shooting of your scenes?
A funny scene… there’s a picture on the internet where a snowtrooper is seen falling over as they enter Hoth. I was on that scene. I tripped but didn’t fall and it seems so did many others. It didn’t get in the film. Irvin Kershner took a long time to build a scene and the photo of me in the briefing scene standing around looking bored took ages to set up. He did do a great job.
Your Rebel pilot character got a name many years ago: Habeer Zignian. When and how did you find out and what was your reaction?
My character having been given a name was a complete and pleasant surprise. Although I only found out in 2018.
What is the best memory you have regarding Star Wars in general?
I am really proud to have been a very minor part in a great series of films. It changed my life. I met and I’m still in contact with so many friends like Alan Austen, Peter Ross, Chris Parsons (editor’s note: all three men played various parts in the original trilogy) and so many more who I wouldn’t have known without Facebook and the world wide family of Star Wars fans.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Exclusief interview met Bruce Logan (ILM)
Vraag een willekeurige Star Wars fan wie in A New Hope de Death Star vernietigde en de kans is groter dan een Gorax dat het antwoord Luke Skywalker is. Fout! Het was namelijk ILM’er Bruce Logan die verantwoordelijk was voor het letterlijk opblazen van het Death Star model in 1976. Dit was slechts een van de vele special effects waar Logan voor verantwoordelijk was in A New Hope.
Speciaal voor mijn eigen site StarWarsInterviews.com deed Bruce Logan het volgende interview waarin hij terugblikt op eind jaren 70; de begintijd van Star Wars. Zoals gebruikelijk is het interview ook hier te lezen: op StarWarsAwakens.nl!
Interview met Bruce Logan
In the mid 70’s you joined ILM to work on Star Wars. How did you get this job?
I had met with George and Gary at the beginning of the production when they were interviewing visual effects people. George got back from shooting the live action in England, and because the signature (very hi-tech at the time) motion control effects system was being constructed not a frame of film had been shot. Panicked, he called me up to head up a second unit effects unit to shoot puppeteers in black suits “flying” miniature spaceships on black rods. Not surprisingly this did not work out very well. So my unit moved on to do some of the signature explosions in the show.
Why didn’t you return to work on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?
After Star Wars came out, George moved ILM north to San Rafael to avoid Hollywood and all the “rules” that when with it. Half of ILM moved with him and the other half stayed in the same building and broke off to form Apogee (editor’s note: a VFX company).
What do you recall of your meetings with George Lucas?
I found George to be very organized, the man knew exactly what he wanted but not always how to get it. He gave me marching orders and then left me alone to figure out how to do it. I’m not sure that I even watched dailies with him as my unit was at another location across town. He must have liked what he saw because our unit moved to bigger and bigger stages and we shot bigger and bigger explosions.
You’re one of the first crewmembers of ILM in the 70’s. What was it like working there back then in Van Nuys?
As I was not part of the main unit, I did very little work on Valjean. However, as I was friends with almost everyone there and because they had a full machine shop, I spent many weeks there with my full race Mini Cooper machining parts and fabricating equipment. So, I got to experience the entire production process without really being involved.
Which shots/scenes were you responsible for? And are there good anecdotes you can share regarding creating them?
My claim to fame is that I blew up the Death Star. When I think back to the first day of our unit, I remember Joe Viskocil, our powder genius who constructed all the miniature bombs, I realize we were just a bunch of unsupervised kids running the orphanage. Joe came in the first morning and there was a huge explosion and a cloud of smoke coming out of the little room on wheels that was used to load film. Luckily there was only a loss of hair and a rash on Joe’s arms. It was an interesting way to start. But it never really got any better as the explosions got bigger and better, I remember running around the stage wiping burning napalm from my arms after one of our larger explosions. Later, looking at pictures of our shoot, I see that our only fire protection was a single hand held fire extinguishers. Ahh! simpler days.
What was the hardest effect to create while working on A New Hope?
Although I was not involved, I would say the Landspeeder was one of the hardest. In a non-CG world getting rid of the wheels putting in heat ripples and suspending it in shot where we didn’t see the whole craft.
However, the construction and first extensive use of motion control is obviously the most significant innovation of the movie.
Which effect from A New Hope are you most proud of?
Blowing up the Death Star, who wouldn’t be?
Today CGI has largely taken over and there are less practical effects. Is this –in your opinion- a good or a bad thing?
My favorite Visual Effects are when they based on live-action elements and then enhanced with CG. Whether based on miniature or full scale live-action, I like the organic feel of these kind of shots. Shot which are entirely CG still have an uncanny valley feel to them, even with the unbelievable advances in CG effects.
I read that you knew about Joseph Campbell before work on Star Wars started and you were happy George Lucas got a spiritual message out. Do you think that’s something modern Star Wars lacks after George left in 2012?
I think the Joseph Campbell influence fell away almost immediately. Any discussion of the “Force” became more about superhero (Jedi) powers and less about an elemental interconnectedness of all beings and all things. But the whole franchise is based on “A New Hope” and as such this philosophy unavoidably underlies everything. Thanks Joseph.
My final question: You blew up the Death Star, not Luke Skywalker. I guess you should have gotten that medal?
Yes. But what I don’t talk about so much is that, I also blew up Alderaan. I guess all that loss of innocent life, cancels out any medal I might be entitled to for the Death Star.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Exclusief interview met Katie Purvis
Katie Purvis behoort tot een select groepje acteurs die op zéér jonge leeftijd al in de Original Trilogy te zien waren: in 1982 was ze pas 15 jaar toen ze geselecteerd werd om een Ewok te spelen in Return of the Jedi. Ondanks haar leeftijd was ze al behoorlijk bekend met de Star Wars familie aangezien haar vader Jack Purvis in A New Hope (hoofd Jawa) en The Empire Strikes Back (Ugnaught) te zien was en al jaren een duo vormde met Kenny “R2-D2” Baker.
Speciaal voor StarWarsInterviews.com en StarWarsAwakens.nl deed Katie het volgende interview waarin ze terugkijkt naar begin jaren 80, ingaat op de impact van haar vaders carrière, treurt om een mislukte ontmoeting met Harrison Ford én een unieke anekdote heeft over een zieke Ewok!
Interview met Katie Purvis
How did you get started in the movie business?
My dad Jack Purvis was working on Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits movie where he played Wally, one of the six Bandits. One summer’s day he took me with him to the film set when they were filming the iconic Titanic scene. The story goes one of the little guys, Tiny Ross, had broken his arm when he fell whilst on horseback in a previously filmed scene, so Terry asked my dad if I would suit up and be Tinys stand-in for the shoot. So I was taken to costume and make up and transformed from a 14-year-old schoolgirl into Vermin the Time Bandit. That was how I got started in the film business!
And how did you get cast for Return of the Jedi?
Again, I consider myself very privileged in how I got cast in Return of the Jedi. This was due to my dad already having been in A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. My dad’s agent asked me if I would be interested in being on the movie to play a teddy bear character a few months before. They were looking for around 50 short people to play Ewoks! As I was only 15 years old, I had to speak to my school to ask permission. At the time, I was taking my Mock O Levels exams, so I did have a bit of study leave during the filming days. So the production gave me a schedule and together with my head teacher we worked my exams around that. This meant I would be filming for two days and then sitting in an exam hall the next! Needless to say this made it very hard to excel at academics, when all I could think about was what was going on in the Ewok Village!
What do you recall of the filming of your scenes for the Return of the Jedi?
The whole 2-week experience was so exciting for me a teenager. I had already met Mark Hamill back in 1976 whilst my dad was working on A New Hope, as he had been to our house for tea, when my dad Jack and his partner Kenny Baker had been working in Cabaret in the evening after a day’s shooting. Dad brought Mark home before taking him out with them to watch their show. Mark was really kind to my brothers and I.
So when I met him again on Return of the Jedi it was just like meeting one of my dad’s friends. I didn’t really get introduced to the other cast members, as it can be really busy on set and my dad being so humble didn’t want to disturb them as he said they would be preparing for their scenes. This was a little disappointing as I had had a schoolgirl crush on Mr. Ford. First day on set my dad and I were standing in our Ewok costumes feeling all fat and furry when Harrison came past and greeted my dad! I was so nervous as I thought finally I am going to get the chance to meet my hero! Unfortunately not to be. Dad and Harrison had a chat and to my dismay my dad didn’t even introduce me and Harrison walked off into his position to begin the day’s scene! I won’t tell you how I expressed my disappointment to my dad about him being responsible for me not meeting my schoolgirl crush!
Did any strange, remarkable or funny things happen on the set?
I’m sure it’s well documented that the Ewok costumes were very uncomfortable and made you very hot and the eyes kept misting up. Kenny Bakers wife, Eileen, when I informed her that I was feeling unwell one afternoon, assisted by lifting her arm up and shouting ‘CUT’ when I told her “I think I’m going to be sick!”
At once the makeup lady rushed onto set and ripped my Ewok head off allowing me to upchuck my lunch! All I remember hearing was the guy from the Electric department shouting “Don’t be sick in my electric box!”
Return of the Jedi was directed by Richard Marquand, while George Lucas produced it. How were both men to work with?
Being young I didn’t really appreciate the fact that I was working alongside such greats as Richard Marquand and George Lucas, again because my dad been there from the start in 1976 so there was a great camaraderie amongst them all. To be honest I was so nervous I just did as I was asked. I think I speak for most of us who played Ewoks, it was the first time we’d met so many other Little People and all been together, so that was more exciting than working with these iconic film directors! It’s only now that I realize how blessed I was to have been part of those movies! And so wish I had taken photos and got autographs.
After Star Wars you starred in some of my favorite 80’s movies: Labyrinth, Willow and Legend. What fond memories do you have of those productions?
I loved working on the films that followed, Legend, Labyrinth and Willow, although Labyrinth was my favorite. Again for me it was about coming of age, I was now 18 and had past my driving test, although I didn’t have my own car My mum let me borrow hers. It was a red mini, which I felt so cool driving! This meant no longer did I have to drive to the studios with my dad, after all how uncool was that! We filmed Labyrinth in the summer months so we had a holding area just outside the Stage where the set had been built. There everyone would hang out, make up people, props and costume, actors and puppeteers! It was great time to be 18 and driving your mums Red Mini! I felt so grown up having just left school!
Your father Jack Purvis has played a lot of parts in the original trilogy, including popular characters like Teebo, the lead Jawa and an Ugnaught. How do look back at his Star Wars legacy?
Star Wars has been part of my family’s life since I was 10 years old. Even now I only have to hear the Star Wars music and I not only get goose bumps but I immediately am taken back in time to so many parts of my life growing up. From school summer fetes that my dad and Kenny Baker opened as guest celebrities The Minitones in the late 70’s to summer shows in Torquay where Jack and Kenny were appearing and where the showgirls would perform a show stopping number with lightsabers to the Star Wars theme tune whilst a prop R2 would spin around. My brothers and I would be watching from the wings most nights. Inevitably one of the showgirls’ lightsabers would break in two as she thrust it too hard and ended up missing someone in the audience. The crowd used love this part of the show, I suppose because Star Wars meant so much to everyone. I know it changed Kenny and Jacks lives, and ours too as our families were able to move to bigger houses in nicer areas. They became well respected as not just musical cabaret act but actors from a successful movie. The movie opened up other opportunities for them that they may never have had had it not been for their small roles in that low budget movie.
What would you regard as your best memory of all the movies you were in. Is there a special moment you’ll cherish forever?
I have been to places I never would have got to go to, had it not been for Star Wars and the love of the Star Wars community.
What are you doing these days? Are you still in the acting business?
Nowadays I no longer act as unfortunately as a result of back surgery I can no longer walk unaided. However, I have three children who would love to appear in any future Star Wars movies, so if there is any casting agents out there reading this were waiting to hear! That would make them the third generation of Purvis family to appear in the franchise. They have already been told by Mr. Mark Hamill himself, to call him Grampa!
So nowadays I am honored to be asked to appear at conventions and related Sci-Fi events.
The Star Wars community, along with some awesome people and actors have helped raise money for many charity events, which I am humbled to say has changed people’s lives. I can truly say I have met some very kind and warm-hearted people, whom I never would have met had it not been for Star Wars and its legacy.
And this is what is so incredible about the Star Wars Story!
Met grote dank aan Casper Fijlstra voor het mogelijk maken van dit interview!
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