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Exclusief interview met Star Wars auteur Jason Fry

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Interview met Star Wars auteur Jason Fry

Enige tijd geleden raakte ik in contact met Star Wars auteur Jason Fry. Zijn CV is behoorlijk indrukwekkend: hij schrijft al jarenlang Star Wars boeken en verhalen en titels als The Essential Atlas, The Weapon of a Jedi en The Force Awakens: The Incredible Cross Sections zijn allemaal van zijn hand. 

Jason Fry was meer dan bereid om mee te werken aan een interview en hieronder kun je het resultaat lezen! Hij wist zelfs (en dit is echt een primeur) iets te vertellen over een personage uit The Force Awakens wat nog nergens anders te lezen was!

Interview met Jason Fry

How did you become a Star Wars fan?

I was eight years old when A New Hope – which back then was just Star Wars – hit theaters. I went with my folks to see it in a crummy theater in Lake Grove, N.Y., with no idea what to expect. Princess Leia’s ship came roaring across the screen, which was cool, but then Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer came across the screen chasing it – and kept coming and coming. By the time I saw that Star Destroyer’s engines I was hooked and knew my life had changed.

How did you land the job in the Star Wars industry?

I got to know my friend Dan Wallace through the old America Online Star Wars discussion boards in the mid-1990s. Dan and I both loved Star Wars geography, and he’d landed a gig writing The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons for Del Rey. I had a database of Star Wars planets that I’d created, and wanted to send it to him but hesitated because I was worried he’d think I was trying to step on his turf. When I finally did send it Dan was basically done with the book, and he was like, “Man, this would have been really helpful – why didn’t you send it before?”

So lesson learned.

Dan very kindly suggested that we team up to work on some articles for the old Star Wars Adventure Journal from West End Games, and I got vetted by Lucasfilm as part of that. I was so excited – and then the Adventure Journal folded. And I thought, “Oh no, there goes my big chance!” (We wound up working together with our friend Craig Carey from WEG to write articles for the short-lived magazine Star Wars Gamer.)

Happily, I got another shot – the Star Wars Insider was looking for a books columnist, and took a chance on me. If I recall correctly my first column was about Vector Prime, which I read under a strict vow of silence before interviewing Bob Salvatore. That was my first Star Wars publishing credit, back in 1999.

From there I put my hand up for any Star Wars job I could get. I wrote RPG material for Wizards, relying on what I could remember of first-edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and spent years as the Insider’s book columnist. All of that was fun, but I got my big break when DK hired me to write the Clone Wars Visual Guide (which came out in 2008) and Del Rey gave in and let me and Dan try to turn our crazy idea about mapping the Star Wars galaxy into an actual book.

You have written a lot of Star Wars books and stories. Really a LOT. Which book/story are you most proud of?

Hmm. That’s a tough one, because my projects have been so different. I loved writing The Essential Atlas with Dan. That book was quite literally a dream come true. Back when I was 13 or 14 I dreamt I’d gone with my parents to the bookstore in our mall and bought a book called The Atlas of the Star Wars Galaxy, which I’d read avidly in the back seat of the car on the way home. It was one of those vivid dreams that leaves you a bit confused when you wake up about what’s real and what’s not. I was lying in bed and thought happily about my cool new book, figuring that I had school and track practice but then I’d be free to come home and read some more. Which was when I had that “Oh no” moment and realized it was just a dream.

Years later Dan and I made that dream a reality. I mean, sure, it took 30 years, but it happened! So that book will always be really close to my heart.

I also loved writing the four-book Servants of the Empire series, about Zare Leonis. Those books got into some pretty deep stuff while being entertaining adventures, and I really liked Merei, a character I invented as a foil/ally for Zare. And I loved working on Weapon of a Jedi and Moving Target, because they gave me a chance to tell stories starring two characters I’ve loved since I was eight years old.

If we can step outside of Star Wars for a moment, I think the second book in the Jupiter Pirates series – The Curse of the Iris – is the best thing I’ve ever written. (If you’re not familiar with Jupiter Pirates, I hope you’ll check out jupiterpirates.com.)

Of course I hope to top that someday soon, whether it’s with a Star Wars tale or something else – you always want your most recent book to be the best thing you’ve ever written.

Honestly, it’s pretty rare that I have a Star Wars project I don’t love. I pinch myself every day that I get to do this. I’ve been insanely lucky.

JF2

The Weapon of a Jedi en Moving Target: de twee boeken van Jason Fry die op 4 september 2015 verschenen.

On Force Friday your book ‘Weapon of a Jedi’ was released. I’ve read it and (just like everyone else) love it. It is already a fan favorite; every review I’ve read is very positive. What is your secret? How did you approach the task of writing this novel and why do you think it’s so popular?

I’ve read some negative reviews of it! But that’s OK – as an author it’s really important to understand and accept that you cannot win them all. One person will think your book is an instant classic and another person will hurl it across the room. That’s showbiz, baby.

Lucasfilm gave me the basic plot of The Weapon of a Jedi – Luke explores mysterious ruins on a jungle world in search of Jedi lore, and winds up dueling a determined enemy – and we went from there.

Which definitely meant some pressure. Luke is such a beloved character – there are many Star Wars fans who have spent their whole lives watching and reading his adventures, and they have superb radar for how he thinks, speaks and acts. If you get that wrong, they’re thrown out of the story. I should know because I’m one of those fans, and Luke is a tricky character to get right – one I’ll admit I’d never felt I had a handle on. To figure that out I went back to the movies, to Mark Hamill’s performance and how that shaped the character George Lucas had created. I watched how Hamill held himself, and how he reacted to other characters, and delved into Hamill’s stories about interacting with Lucas in finding the right tone for the character. That helped, and so did a fan’s note on TheForce.net discussing what an odd action hero Luke is – he’s more reactive than active, almost gentle. Which is absolutely right. Think about it: In A New Hope Luke destroys the Death Star by letting go and allowing the Force to guide his X-wing’s proton torpedo. In Return of the Jedi he defeats the Emperor by throwing his lightsaber away and appealing to his father. It’s only in The Empire Strikes Back that he behaves like a conventional action hero – he rushes off to fight Darth Vader and save his friends. So what happens? He nearly gets killed and his friends have to risk their lives all over again to save him. That exploration turned out to be really rewarding. It unlocked Luke for me in a way that hadn’t happened before, and that was simultaneously helpful as a writer and a lot of fun as a fan.

As for why the book’s been popular, it has nothing to do with me. I mean, come on — it’s a Star Wars book about Luke Skywalker! My name is far and away the least important thing on that cover.

In ‘Weapon of a Jedi’ we meet a new character: Sarco Plank. Could you tell something about how you created this character? And will we see more of him in upcoming books or comics?

The character started with Lucasfilm, and was always intended to be Luke’s antagonist. I originally wrote him as a kind of placeholder – known just as “the Scavenger” — because I knew I wouldn’t have access to any art or descriptions of him until later in the process. That turned out to be pretty interesting: I tried leaving the character essentially as a “blank” in the narrative but found I couldn’t do it, because having him undefined messed up the dynamic between him and Luke and the droids.

So I shrugged and made the Scavenger into an old, scarred Devaronian outcast. His first name was mine – I was riffing on “sarcoma” – and I’m pretty sure the last name came from Lucasfilm. The funny thing is I knew that Sarco’s description would change, but I still felt a little sad when I got the art reference and had to switch out the old Sarco for the new one. We get really attached to our characters, even when we know better.

Another unexpected aspect of that process was there are pretty profound differences between how the original Sarco perceived the world and how the character you’ll see in The Force Awakens does. Sorry to be vague, but you’ll know what I mean soon enough. That was an interesting challenge given the interplay among the characters – some scenes still worked fine, some had to be tweaked, and a few had to be rethought. Something similar happened with the mounts Luke and Sarco use in The Weapon of a Jedi. There, once again, I was a little bummed to sub out the cool creature I’d thought of as a placeholder even though I’d known that was going to happen. Fortunately, I found myself needing mounts for scenes in the fourth Zare Leonis book, The Secret Academy. So the creature I’d invented – the diplopod — got to live another day.

JF3

De mysterieuze Sarco Plank in actie in ‘The Weapon of a Jedi’.

With Cecil Castellucci you co-wrote another new Star Wars novel: ‘Moving Target’. What in this novel are your ideas/influences?

Collaborations are interesting things that can be pretty personal for the authors involved. So sorry, but I’d rather keep that one between me and Cecil. We relied on the Force, let’s say that. Well, the Force and the kind folks at Lucasfilm and Disney. What I will say beyond that is Cecil and I both had spent our whole lives loving Leia Organa as a character – she deserves so much credit as an assertive, no-nonsense boss who did a lot to break down the traditional confines about gender roles. We were both thrilled by the chance to work together in telling a story that would dig into Leia’s thoughts and her character.

Suppose there are readers who want to write official Star Wars books as well; what advice would you give them?

No one wants to hear this, but it’s my duty to say it: If your starting goal is to write Star Wars, stop.

I got really lucky and even then it was years and years before I got to write anything in that setting, let alone tell stories of my own. If you start off as a writer with Star Wars as your goal, you’re almost certainly going to wind up discouraged because it will take so long and so much has to go right no matter how hard you work.

If, on the other hand, you love to write and tell stories and your goal is to do that, full speed ahead. Develop a professional track record and start figuring out your own stories and characters and bringing them to life. It will take a long time to get openings and to get command of your craft, but if you love what you do you’ll enjoy the journey. If things go well and you get some breaks, you might eventually be offered the chance to play in someone else’s universe, whether it’s a galaxy far far away or something else. And if not you’ll still be having fun and hopefully seeing a little success.

The biggest reason I got hired by the Insider back in 1999 was I had years of newspaper experience, which meant I had a track record of writing successfully, meeting deadlines and being easy to work with. Yes, I was a Star Wars fan, but that was essentially a coincidence. It was my professional background that got me the shot.

For anyone I haven’t scared off, the good news is it doesn’t particularly matter what you do to get that professional track record – you can work for a local newspaper, magazine, website, etc. Editors want to see that you can write and are reliable — the subject matter isn’t so important. So go out and write. Do good work, prove you’re reliable, and enjoy yourself. Success – in whatever form it takes — starts there.

What can we expect from you in 2016 and beyond? I love scoops (especially when they’re Star Wars related) so please tell us!

Sorry, I can’t reveal anything before it’s announced by a publisher. I do have two things in the works, but they’re still under wraps. Also, the third book in the Jupiter Pirates series comes out in June, and I’ll have a free short story on jupiterpirates.com, probably in January. And lots more, I hope!

JF

Finally, the readers of StarWarsAwakens.nl could post questions for you on our website. I’ve selected 3 of them:

What is your favorite Star Wars planet you’ve created?

Anaxes, which I created way back at the beginning of my Star Wars career for Coruscant and the Core Worlds, a roleplaying book for Wizards of the Coast. I’ve always liked the Imperial Navy and its traditions, so I thought it would be fun to create a planet that was basically its Annapolis – an “Officer and a Gentleman” type setting steeped in tradition, history and the lore of the service. So I proposed that and Wizards and Lucasfilm said yes.

It was really cool when the Clone Wars production team decided to use Anaxes as the setting of an arc – it’s in the “Bad Batch” series of animatic episodes on starwars.com. Though they did decide that Anaxes then got blown up somehow. Oh well!

Is there a Star Wars character you’d love to write a book about?

Han Solo. The funny thing about writing The Weapon of a Jedi is I was a Han guy as a kid. I didn’t really get Luke – I thought he should have joined Han and Chewie at the end of A New Hope instead of becoming a rebel. I mean, Han and Chewie get to hang out in cantinas and blast bad guys and play pirate aboard their cool starship – how is that not more fun than taking orders as a soldier? (Yes, I would have made the worst member of the Rebel Alliance ever.) I admitted this at New York Comic-Con on a panel where I was sitting next to Greg Rucka, who wrote Smuggler’s Run. And Greg looked over and said, “the funny thing is I grew up as a Luke guy.”

What is your favorite Star Wars book that was written by another author?

The original Han Solo adventures by Brian Daley, written in the earliest days of what was not yet called the Expanded Universe. They’re just great – exciting, fast and funny. And I still think they’re the best portrayal of Han Solo outside of the movies.

Mr. Fry, thank you for this great interview!

Indien je meer over Jason wil weten/lezen: check zijn Tumblr of volg hem op Twitter!

Wil je meer Star Wars Interviews lezen? Check dan deze site. Toekomstige interviews zullen voortaan zowel op deze site én op StarWarsAwakens.nl verschijnen!

Geboren toen de opnames van A New Hope van start gingen. Voormalig assistent van Anthony Daniels. Auteur van de 'Star Wars Interviews' boekenreeks waarvoor hij 180+ cast en crewleden interviewde. Trots op zijn vermeldingen in de credits van de boeken The Making of Return of the Jedi, Stormtroopers: Beyond the Armor, The Star Wars Historical Sourcebook, The Star Wars Archives en Star Wars Icons: Han Solo.

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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Dominic Pace (Bounty Hunter)

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Na lang wachten was het dinsdag dan zover: de eerste aflevering van The Mandalorian, de allereerste live-action Star Wars TV serie ooit. En hoe kun je zoiets beter vieren dan met een exclusief interview met een van de castleden?

Afgelopen april kwam ik in contact met Dominic Pace die in deze serie de rol van een bounty hunter vertolkt. Dominic is al decennia lang een enorme fan met een dito collectie. Hij kon destijds nog maar weinig zeggen over de serie maar we spraken af om er in november op terug te komen, wat ook gebeurde. 

Speciaal voor mijn eigen site StarWarsInterviews.com deed hij het volgende interview wat zoals gebruikelijk iook hier te lezen is.

Interview met Dominic Pace

You’re a pretty big Star Wars fan and you have a pretty big collection as well. How and when did you become a fan?

Before I could even spell. My first playset was the Cantina Playset. I had the original 12 figures. My mother got me that magnetic alphabet board and I remember the first word I put together on there was ‘Jawa.’

(image credit Dominic Pace)

The dream of every fan is to actually be in Star Wars. How did you get cast for The Mandalorian?

I am blue collar actor. I have been very fortunate to land numerous Guest Stars and Co Stars on television, however I never turn down work of any kind. In order to survive in this business as an actor, you have to accept flexible jobs of all kinds. I was invited in for a simple makeup test for a major Hollywood Special Effects Company, Legacy Effects. It was there that I met Brian Sipe, one of the leading makeup artists within their company. There was no discussion of any future work or what the project was. I had previous prosthetic experience before (Van Helsing, Bright, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). I was calm and professional for the entire 6 hours of application. Brian and I got to know each other. At the end I handed him my business card telling him I’d love to work on whatever project he was doing. It did not cross my mind one bit that it was Star Wars as Star Wars has always been filmed overseas for the most part. I received a phone call two weeks later to report for a project code named, Huckleberry. I did not realize it was a Star Wars project until I was invited into a wardrobe room. I quickly noticed some of the sample wardrobe photos on the wall. Any Star Wars fan would’ve been able to have connected the dots at that point. What added to the shock and excitement was that I was lead into another room with a clothing rack. It had my name on one section of the rack with the words ‘Bounty Hunter’ next to it. I was at a loss for words and just tried to stay calm.

In The Mandalorian you play the bounty hunter Gekko. How did you get this specific part assigned? And what kind of character is Gekko?

Gekko is just the nickname and not official by Disney. Makeup artist Brian Sipe was working on some sort of GreenPeace Convention a few years prior. He did this extensive prosthetic on this model. The model had these two humps on their head with a very distinct makeup design similar to a Gecko. The model was holding a Gecko in her hand. Brian gave me the same mold, but altered the head bumps to horns. The paint design stayed the same. It is a one of a kind Bounty Hunter and species in the Star Wars universe as of now. I am 100% certain no one has been established with this look except me due to the origin of the model outside Star Wars. I was personally given this role as it was the most extensive makeup. Brian appreciated my attitude and patience so he gave me the most elaborate design for my two episodes.

Het Gekko model, met op het hoofd een… gekko. (image credit Dominic Pace)

You wear heavy makeup and prosthetics. Can you share your experiences getting dressed up as Gekko?

Normally this would be a tedious process as the entire character took about two hours each morning to prepare. I’m sure every Star Wars would agree that it would be an absolute joy to watch your detailed Star Wars character come to life each day. Richard A. Porra was the costume designer. Richard gave me a bandolier, forearm guards sewn into my dark blue robe, along with a face mask which really made the character. Initially I almost had a bare face. I was being rushed to set and I could’ve left the mask behind as they had trouble finding it on day 1. I really wanted that mask and reminded Richard that the initial screen test had the mask. It truly makes the character as it makes my Bounty Hunter more mysterious.

How did the shooting of your scenes go?

Though it was priceless enough to have been at least featured in the Cantina, what Star Wars fan wouldn’t want their own bit of action? It was an exciting time, but a stressful time, as I wanted to make sure my character was established. As the performer, you do not have a say in this. The director and producers either want you in their shot, or they don’t. It’s never your choice. The first week was amazing in that, the first day I arrived on set, standing in the cantina with his arms folded was none other than George Lucas. At this level, you cannot approach the stars or producers unless they acknowledge you or initiate. I mention that because as much as any fan would love to approach Lucas, you are just there for a job. Regardless, it was such an honor to be in his universe that day with him present.

The cantina scenes were finished after the first week. The first assistant director asked about 20 featured cantina aliens and Bounty Hunters to stay behind as the director Deborah Chow wanted to have us all line up. I had no idea what the lineup was for, but in general, it was mostly likely that they had to make a cut for the following week. Not everyone was going to be chosen for the following week. They cut half of us, and luckily I was chosen. Making that cut solidified my Star Wars immortality. Not only did it lock my place in the universe in focus, but also I fulfilled my dream of being in a Star Wars action sequence.

As an Italian American, I was always inspired by the Rocky series growing up. Carl Weathers was an essential part of the Rocky success. It was such an honor to be alongside Weathers whose had such a legendary career. My adrenaline was pumping so hard during this one scene, and being alongside Carl made it that much more special.

The overall experience was simply priceless. However an entire year of not being able to say anything, along with waiting to see if you made it into the shots was stressful in a good way.

You just mentioned George Lucas. Did you meet him?

I did not meet him that day as I always have a tremendous respect for the head producers and director. When you have a $100 million budget on the clock, unfortunately it’s not a meet and greet time. However simply being in his universe as one of his characters was an honor enough. I had the privilege of meeting him years prior at a charity event, but not on set.

Dominic Pace & George Lucas (image credit Dominic Pace)

Did any weird or funny things happen on or off the set?

The Gekko like bumps looked like breasts on my head. I brought it up to Brian during the initial makeup and costume test and thankfully he changed my head to horns. That would’ve been funny and embarrassing at the same time.

What is the best memory you have regarding The Mandalorian?

Getting to choose my own blaster. I think every Star Wars fan would love to choose their own lightsaber or blaster. Having that honor from the prop master was absolutely priceless. I picked the biggest blaster they had and I hope they make it out of a figure someday.

Final question: What is your ‘dream Star Wars project’?

Being a one of a kind Bounty Hunter in Season 1 of The Mandalorian.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Alan Austen (Stormtrooper & Bespin Guard)

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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.

Alan Austen (zittend rechts van John Hollis die Lobot speelde) op de carbon freeze set

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.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met John Mogridge (Snowspeeder pilot)

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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.

John Mogridge en Alan Austen als de twee Stormtroopers die Han naar de Carbon freeze begeleiden.

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.

John Modgride (recht van regisseur Irvin Kershner) op de Echo Base set.

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.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Bruce Logan (ILM)

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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?

© Bruce Logan

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.


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