Voor velen was Star Wars het begin van een succesvolle carrière. Richard Armitage, Keira Knightley en Carrie Fisher zijn slechts enkele voorbeelden. In dit rijtje past ook de naam van Nick Laws, die als 20-jarige als productie-assistent betrokken was bij The Empire Strikes Back. In de jaren die volgden werkte hij o.a. als assistent-regisseur aan de Young Indiana Jones Chronicles en is hij tegenwoordig producent van Narcos: Mexico. Zoals zovelen voor hem deed hij voor mijn site StarWarsInterviews het volgende interview. Traditiegetrouw is het ook hier te lezen.
You were in your early twenties when you worked as a production runner for The Empire Strikes Back. How did you get this job?
I failed my exams to go to University so I thought I should try a ‘different’ career to what was normally considered when leaving school. A career that did not ask for exam qualifications! I became the ‘Post boy’ at 20th Century Fox in London…and worked in the mail room. During my time there, the Production Office for The Empire Strikes Back started their pre-production before moving to Elstree Studios. I delivered the mail to them! A few months later when they were at Elstree Studios, the General manager at 20th Century Fox received a call saying that the Production had ‘fired’ their runner and could I join them at Elstree Studios? I was allowed to leave and join the Empire Production Office.
Did you see A New Hope before you got the Empire job? If you did I bet it was a fantastic job for someone your age at that time?
I had seen A New Hope before joining 20th Century Fox but I had no idea how the film industry worked or what was involved to make the Production. It was an exciting prospect but I don’t think I fully realized how amazing an opportunity it really was! The prospect of working on it was a little frightening at first and I had to rent a small room to be near the studio.
What were your exact tasks as a production runner?
To go round to all the departments in the studio and deliver memos or information from the Production Office. I also made the tea and coffee and got the sandwiches for lunch!
I would then have to help with any photocopying of documents and call sheets. I would then take the call sheet to the Set for distribution. I would also help to get supplies for the actors dressing rooms when required.
Do you have any favorite anecdotes?
I remember the actors were always very friendly and joking, particularly Carrie. I was always in awe of them and most of the crew! I had my 21st birthday during filming and was given a huge birthday card signed by all the actors, crew (including George Lucas on a rare vist?!), Gary Kurtz, Irvin Kershner… I still have it! I was also given a set of Star Wars prints signed by Ralph McQuarrie. I always remember him being a very quiet and good man. The cast and crew also had a collection of money (£500) to enable me to buy a car (a Mini!) so that I could travel back home each day and move out of the local rented room! Amazing generosity!
Did you get to meet any of the principal actors or even George Lucas or Lawrence Kasdan?
I met all the actors as I sometimes had to pass on messages, but I never met George Lucas during The Empire Strikes Back. I met him briefly later when working on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I was not aware of Lawrence Kasdan coming to the Production Office.
I bet almost no one knows that Luke’s bionic hand we see at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is actually your hand. I am sure there’s a good story attached to this.
I was working in the Production office, when one of the Assistant Directors came in to say that they were looking for a ‘young, virginal hand’! I was recruited! I went to the 2nd Unit Stage for the rest of the morning and the false forearm was attached and a number of takes were filmed. It was fun being out of the office. Strangely, the ‘fame’ of Luke’s hand has grown more in recent years than at the time!
After Star Wars you worked on some real classic movies like The Dark Crystal and Superman III as an assistant director. You were still in your twenties back then. What were your experiences on these movies?
The Dark Crystal was not a great experience for me. I was still very inexperienced as an Assistant Director and lacked confidence in what I was doing. I was looking after the actors and performers as they developed movements for the various creatures. I would have preferred to be on the set… but I did not have enough experience at the time.
Later, I worked on the Flying Unit of Superman II at Pinewood Studios. It was not a job I was particularly looking forward to, but it turned out to be really enjoyable with a good crew! The flying ‘technology’ was very secret at the time!
In the mid 90’s you worked on the Lucasfilm TV series Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, again as an assistant director for several episodes. Did they remember you from Empire? How do you look back at this groundbreaking TV series?
No… there was no connection to The Empire Strikes Back. I think `I got the job more on the basis of having worked in various foreign countries and I had just finished working on a film in war torn Mozambique called A child from the South. The Young Indy series was groundbreaking in so many ways. Even now, I am amazed how much we achieved with a very small crew, often filming in remote locations, without the use of mobile phones or email! The producer Rick McCallum took so many bold, innovative decisions and it’s amazing what was achieved. He and George Lucas wanted to get away from the Feature film ‘circus’ of a big crew and wanted to do it with a small ‘guerrilla’ team going in to each country using local crew and resources. I worked on episodes in Spain, Italy, Kenya, Turkey and what was then Czechoslovakia.
Even now on productions, I try to think of how a production can work more simply and efficiently?! That is the legacy of Young Indy. In the beginning it was fun, and we worked really hard in amazing locations and situations.
Your career spans over 4 decades. What are you most proud of, and what was your favorite project?
So many memories and experiences to consider!
I am proud of having worked on The Empire Strikes Back as a piece of cinema History! I am also proud of having worked with one of the greatest directors, David Lean on A Passage to India. I have been lucky to work with some great assistant directors like Gary White, Guy Travers, Patrick Cadell, who helped me in my career, and showed by their example how to treat everyone with respect and courtesy. I had an amazing experience working on a film in the Himalayas, Ladakh, called Samsara. The film was in Tibetan and it also gave me the brief opportunity to direct Tibetan monks in the opening scene! I have enjoyed working in harsh environments; The Claim and Touching the void, but some of my best experiences have been in rural areas of Africa dealing with local villagers in Nigeria and Kenya!
Working with Sally Potter on a film called Yes was a great experience in so many ways. We filmed in London, Belfast, Beirut, Dominican Republic and Cuba on a really low budget and wages!
The Constant Gardener in Kenya was a life changing film for me and my Family. My two young sons and my wife travelled with me, and as the boys were in a local school in Nairobi, my wife had the opportunity to learn to fly. After getting her pilot’s license we decided to travel onwards to South Africa for her to take a commercial pilot’s course. We went for a one year family adventure…but have remained in South Africa for the past 15 years! My wife is now working as a police helicopter pilot!
I am currently working on the Netflix series Narcos – Mexico which is an enjoyable challenge!
From a career point of view, I am proud of having been a producer on the British feature film Fish Tank which was directed by Andrea Arnold.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Collector’s Edition: #2 Shane Garrad
Collector’s Edition is een onderdeel op deze site waar we , in samenwerking met Echo Base, een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit tweede deel een kort vraaggesprek met Shane Garrad, ik heb Shane zijn collectie ontdekt door zijn Instagram en ik wist direct dat hij meer dan geschikt was voor deze rubriek.
Hi Shane, please introduce yourself.
How did you get into collecting Star Wars?
You have a big Star Wars room, what is the focus of your collection?
What is your most valuable item?
Any white whales you are still searching for?
Any items in your collection that were exclusive for Australia?
Is there a big collectors scene in Australia?
Collector’s Edition: #1 Mark Newbold
Collector’s Edition is een nieuw onderdeel op deze site waar we een aantal vragen stellen aan hele fanatieke Star Wars verzamelaars, over hun passie en over hun collection. In dit eerste deel een kort vraaggesprek met Mark Newbold, oprichter van de site FanthaTracks.com en vaste schrijver voor Star Wars Insider en StarWars.com.
Hi Mark, please introduce yourself!
My name is Mark Newbold. I am the editor in chief of Fantha Tracks and I’ve been writing for StarWars.com, Starburst magazine (the longest running Sci-Fi magazine) and since 2006 for Star Wars Insider. I worked for De Agostini’s, build the Millennium Falcon, right now I am working on the Spanish version of the Fact Files series. I started a website in the ‘90s and there was not so much Star Wars going on at the time. So for a while it was a Star Trek site (don’t tell anybody) and then it became more of a general sci-fi site. And when it was clear in the late ‘90s that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.
When did you start collecting?
Pretty much since the beginning. I saw the movie a couple of months after the release, it came out in December 1977 in London so probably I saw it in the months after that, I was six at the time. My aunt bought me a Star Wars magazine and that was the very first piece of my collection. In the years after ’83 there was nothing Star Wars anymore, and we made fanfiction. And in the 90’s when it was clear that Star Wars was coming back, I started with the website and collecting again.
What is the focus of your collection?
The problem is that I have no main focus. I like to collect all little bits and pieces, like stickers and buttons. It took me a bit, but I’ve got all the vintage figures together. I don’t need to have them in mint condition or anything so that made it easier. And I’ve also got a lot of Star Wars books. And I have different formats of soundtracks and audio books, laserdisc and games.
The good thing is I am not a completionist, so I don’t care too much about that. I like to collect small things. I always say that I would not be bothered if everything in my collection room would fit in the palm of my hand. I like it to have it a bit chaotic and have full shelves. Friends can come over and look around and pick things ups and ask questions. The most fun about collecting is the stories behind every piece.
What is the most valuable piece in your collection?
The Art of Star Wars signed by Ralph McQuarrie at a book signing in the mid 90’s. Nobody was in the queue behind me, so I got 5 minutes to talk with him, I wish I could say we had some deep conversations but it was probably small talk about the weather. Later, a friend of mine took the book to a convention in Paris and got it signed by Joe Johnston and that was the only time it left my side. If something would happen or if I could only keep one thing, it would probably be this this book.
What item took you very long to get, but in the end, you found it.
I was searching for years for SP FX: The Empire Strikes Back on VHS (a television documentary special hosted by actor Mark Hamill, about the special effects of Empire) and I knew a friend of mine had it and after some years he told me that he knew I wanted it. I made him an offer and in the end agreed on half of it and now I have it.
Any big wishes you have or white whales that you are after?
Luckily I don’t have one now. Like I said I love to collect everything, and I am not a completionist. It’s a shame because I like to look for something and search for something. It was a lot of fun in the days before the internet. I loved going to conventions and comic stores searching for that special missing piece.
I know from your social media that you visited Steve Sansweet at Rancho Obi-Wan, what is your relationship with him?
I contacted him when I was writing a piece for Star Wars Insider about the connection of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. And he was at the time still working for Lucasfilm so he could help me with advice on that article. And couple of years later I interviewed him for Star Wars Insider, and we stayed in contact through social media. I met him again at a convention and we became friends. I was at Rancho Obi-Wan for the Guinness Book of Records party. And a couple of times after that. we stayed at Steve’s house and hade breakfast with him, he is a very friendly and very funny guy. If you have the chance to visit Rancho Obi Wan, you should definitely do so!
De verzameling van Mark Newbold
Volg Mark Newbold op FanthaTracks.com en op Twitter @Prefect_Timing
Exclusief interview met Nick Stanner (Stunt performer – The Mandalorian)
Wat zou Star Wars zijn zonder goede stuntlui? Iemand moet de stormtrooper zijn die door een vlammenwerper in rook opgaat of van een rots af valt!
In The Mandalorian ging stuntman Nick Stanner meer dan 30 keer ‘dood’ en was hij als diverse personages te zien. Van Mandalorian tot stormtrooper! Onlangs interviewde ik hem voor StarWarsInterviews.com en zoals altijd is het ook hier te lezen!
How did your journey in movies start? How and why did you become a stuntman?
Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska I was not around film at all. I grew up competing in Gymnastics for my parents’ club all the way through college. I was always flipping off something and in eighth grade I remember watching a movie, not sure which one, but I mentioned I wanted to “do that” as I pointed at the screen. My mom asked if I wanted to be an actor, and I said, “No, I wanna do the cool stuff!” Mom said Oh a stuntman?! I said yeah, and went back to being an eighth grader. Fast forward to after college, I was looking for a new apartment in Lincoln Nebraska where I went to collegians was telling my mom and she said, “I thought you said you wanted to go be a stuntman! When are you going to do that?” The second I heard my mom say that and I knew she supported me no matter where I was, I decided to leave. I headed to Florida to get involved with the live stunt shows at the theme parks like Indiana Jones at Disney, Sindbad at Universal and many others in the Orlando area. Once I got into some of those shows I started to meet people in the film industry.
How did you manage to get hired for The Mandalorian TV series?
One of my best friends that I met at the very first show I did when I moved to Florida was Ryan Watson, the Stunt and Fight Coordinator for The Mandalorian now. We have known each other since 1999. He is one of the best in the industry for fights and creative camera work.
Which characters did you play as a stuntman? The Mandalorian himself?
I played a mandalorian, but not THE Mandalorian. The Mandalorian stunt double is Lateef Crowder. He is amazing with movement. I played numerous characters. I died 32 times in the first eighth episodes, many as a stormtrooper. I did all the high falls so any time someone falls from a roof, that’s me. You can count at least four in the final battle in episode 1. 3 falls in one circle of the gun and one when IG-11 shoots me before they walk in the door. That’s a couple examples, but I am all over the place. I also was the green face guy with Carl Weathers and speeder bike trooper.
You just mentioned that you ‘died’ 32 times. What was your favorite death scene?
Each death was unique. My favorite is high falls, which is why I get to do them all, but being torched by mandos flame thrower as a stormtrooper.
Which of these characters was your favorite?
They are all fun to play, but there is nothing like being a jet pack mandalorian flying on wires. Kids dream come true!
Did you meet the Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal? How was he to work with?
I met everyone and worked with the whole cast! It’s an amazing crew with no lack of talent and everyone is very down to earth. Being there every day, I had a chance to get to know everyone pretty well. Pedro is a jokester so we got along great. I’m a big comedy fan so I enjoyed Bill Burr.
Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?
There were a few funny moments on set. Lots of laughs all around really but when it was time to work playtime was over. Off the set there was plenty of laughs and good times. When you’re working 10-14-hour days it takes the whole crew to keep everyone in good moods and in the film biz there is no shortage of laughs.
What is your favorite anecdote regarding the production of The Mandalorian?
My fave laughs, not sure of anecdote, was when Bill burr would mess with the crew. He has such quick wit and had the entire crew laughing!
Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?
I was a so-so Star Wars fan. I liked the movies, mainly the first 3, and saw them pretty young. Being involved has brought me a little deeper into the world but I would not consider myself a diehard fan.
The question I have to ask every stuntman: what is the most dangerous stunt you’ve ever done?
Most dangerous stunt would be getting hit by car in Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon, or a 9-story high fall while being lit on fire, but it could be being hung underneath a helicopter by 75 feet of cable and flown over Los Angeles! Hard to pick just one, they are all super fun to me!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews
Exclusief interview met Jake Cannavale (Toro Calican)
In aflevering 5 van The Mandalorian maakten we kennis met de jonge premiejager Toro Calican, gespeeld door Jake Cannavale. Speciaal voor zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com beantwoordde hij kort enkele vragen!
How did you get cast for The Mandalorian and were you a Star Wars fan?
They asked my agent if I would like to be in it. And I’m a massive fan and always will be.
How did the shooting of your scenes (most of them with Pedro Pascal) go?
They went very well. There was not a single difficult person to work with on that entire set. In my so far very short career that’s already not something I take lightly. Pedro Pascal was awesome! Mad love to Pedro.
You were directed by Dave Filoni, who many fans see as George Lucas’ heir. What is your opinion of him?
Other than the fact that he genuinely loves The Phantom Menace I have literally nothing bad to say about Dave. He’s the man. I loved working with him as an actor, and I have nothing but faith in him as a fan.
Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?
During me and Ming’s fight scene, Dave told her stunt double -whose name is also Ming- to actually kinda beat me up…it looked fantastic.
What is the best memory you have regarding The Mandalorian?
Probably knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can pull off a blue leather outfit.
Besides acting you’re also a musician in a band called Vixen Maw. How would you describe the music you make and who are your musical influences?
Vixen Maw is an experimental grindcore band. I would describe us as the musical equivalent of getting lobotomized by an unlicensed brain surgeon with Parkinson’s disease and medical fetishism. I don’t like to speak on behalf of my band members (or anyone, as a general rule) but I can say we are all pretty eclectic in terms of our musical tastes, with extreme music being the anchor, or epicenter, so to speak. So our influences are pretty all over the place. I will say that we are currently writing a new album from our own respective quarantine spots and some of the bands I’ve been listening to for inspiration include Chepang, Bandit, Narayama, Vulva Essers, Cloud Rat, Botch, Wormrot, Coke Bust, Gulch, and Bryan Adams.
You’re almost 25 years old. Where do you see yourself in 10 years and what are your career goals?
In ten years I see myself hopefully having had enough memorable screen time to be sampled in some kids shitty grindcore band that his parents are sick of hearing rehearse from their garage. Also I would genuinely love to be writing for a living. Theater, film and animated television.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews