In The Force Awakens maakten we kennis met de nieuwe Stormtroopers. Één daarvan werd gespeeld door de Britse acteur Mark Alec Rutter die met zijn 53 jaar de oudste Stormtrooper in de film was! Eind januari 2016 had ik de kans hem te interviewen en hieronder kun je het (uitgebreide) resultaat lezen. In dit interview geeft Mark een zeer goed beeld van wat er op de set gebeurde en vertelt hij enkele leuke anekdotes!
Interview met Mark Alec Rutter
Mr. Rutter, my first question: What or who made you want to become an actor?
From an early age I was subjected to film by my mother and was brought up on all the Hollywood movies from musicals to Westerns. At school I always wanted to join in the plays but was so shy and it was not until I was in my late teens that I had the courage to perform. I had a very Victorian upbringing and was told that I needed to get a proper job so it was not until I was 34 that I did a two year Drama course and passed with distinction. The acting business is very hard to get into as you know, but I am fortunate enough now to pursue what I love.
How did you get cast as a Stormtrooper and resistance Soldier for The Force Awakens?
I was put up for the role by my agent and went along for the screen test and boot camp. The role of a Stormtrooper is actually quite demanding and your measurements are quite important for the suit. When I got to Pinewood Studios I was slightly dismayed that 98 % of the guys were under 25, ‘No pressure then!’ I am 53, the oldest Stormtrooper on The Force Awakens, but just got on with it and as always did my best. After two days of being tested for various different assessments , including stair walking in suit, weapon maneuvers, marching and running in formation, the 100 or so Troopers were split into three groups, A, B and C group. I had made it into a group! And later told I was to be in the core 8, which would be used for all close work on camera. I was told I looked good in the costume but it is actually very uncomfortable to wear and after a short time it becomes evident that the day is going to be tough…but we are on the set of Star Wars! Right? So man up. The part of Resistance Soldier was cast at Pinewood and by now we were all known for our reliability so it was a case of being chosen for our look and ability I guess. I feel very lucky to have got on this iconic movie.
Were you a Star Wars fan before you got cast?
No, I must admit I was not to be honest I was not blown away with Sci-fi and at the time more into Rocky and such like, it was not until the arrival of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980, I was well into the whole Star Wars thing. There is nothing like it and I don’t think there ever will be anything to top Star Wars.
Back to The Force Awakens: In which specific scenes can we see you as a Stormtrooper?
Well, being one of the Core 8 I was in most of the scenes. In fact being very close to camera and as with all films what you see on screen they get cut or manipulated in some way. In opening scene invading the village, coming off the landing ship and running down ramp, holding prisoners and sweeping thru village. The scene where Finn gets the blood on his helmet from his fellow trooper, I can be seen walking past behind. This was a night shoot, one of nearly two weeks’ worth of village scenes.
The scene they used for the trailer, I am seen in this. It’s a widely published photo, where troopers are all ready for attack on the village looking for Lor San Tekka in the landing craft. I remember it very well as it was amazing…I had one of those moments standing on this craft. I will always remember thinking: ‘wow, this is Star Wars Mark!’ I remember saying they would use this scene for the trailer and they did!
The scene when Finn and Poe steal the Tie fighter, I am on ground firing at the ship as it tries to break free. This was a massive scene and filmed over several days, lots of different shots and we were used for many camera angles. The scene had a lot of pyro going off and I remember the set actually catching fire for a brief second but the fire support was awesome. I am also scene here walking up 30 steps at the back of the set to the right, a very small trooper. What people don’t realize is I had to go up 30 steps for each take and then walk back down, 29 takes! During the two day boot camp we were told that they would need someone to walk up stairs and we all had to try and do this and look as natural as possible, many did not try as the steps were shallow and visibility was very poor with those helmets on. I must have done something right because I was chosen. When the day came the set was awesome and I saw the steps and remember thinking, ‘Heck’, help me through this!’ each time I passed a steam exhaust, this was one of the hardest days for me on set but all part of the job.
In the corridor scenes with Adam Driver, I am marching back and forth and in corridors while Daniel Craig was doing his mind games with Daisy Ridley.
In the scene with the landing craft where the Stormtroopers are running towards the village I run to the right. In this scene I and several others fell on hitting the sand in first couple of takes, vision was very bad and as there was a trooper right in front of us made it worse.
As I said, many scenes and many amazing memories to share, just a few here.
Besides playing a First Order Stormtrooper you’re also the resistance soldier who helps Chewbacca carry a wounded Finn off the Millennium Falcon. What can you tell about filming this scene?
This scene was filmed at RAF Greenham Common, and the weather was good. The production had a lot of trouble keeping it secret and there were many days when filming had to stop or wait because planes, helicopters, or drones were overhead trying to get a glimpse of what was going on. Some photos were leaked to the press of X-Wings and sets. Production covered X-Wings up to hide them and it was quite stressful for JJ I believe.
On one of the days JJ had his own drone up in the air with camera on board so he could view the scene from the helicopters point of view but obviously a lot less expensive. When he was happy with everything he would bring in the chopper. I remember us all watching him maneuver it and we all applauded when he did a faultless landing.
On the day of the Falcon scene I turned up and was sent straight into makeup, so knew it was going to be a special day, and it was. The AD said to me: ‘ remember me when you’re famous!’, I remember laughing. This specific scene where I help Chewie carry Finn off the Millennium Falcon was considerably longer than what you see. Initially I run up to Chewie from camera left and help him down the ramp to a sort of first aid wagon. The camera pans round and I turn to camera, -face clearly seen- and then we were filmed travelling away through the crowd who had turned up to see the arrival of Han Solo off the falcon.
Poe (Oscar Isaac) was on the wagon and they drive off slowly with me running alongside holding Finn on the back. I had a trouble keeping a straight face as Poe was making fun of Finn and cracking jokes, it made a hot day much more fun.
Can you share more of your memories regarding the time you worked on The Force Awakens?
I have many amazing memories from this particular film, so many days on different sets, some nights, and many days in studios. Some in the rain and some in extreme heat but here are just two or three for now.
What people do not necessarily know about big major Studios it that other stuff is going on in other sets and films and many actors are massive fans of Star Wars and the actors themselves have families.
On one of the days I was standing in for Harrison Ford. It was in fact the scene where he and his son Kylo Ren are walking on the bridge just before Solo gets struck down and I was just relaxing there off set with a coffee and someone walked in and stood beside me. It was Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) and he just wanted to have a look and say hi I guess, he turned to me and said hi, I returned the compliment and he walked off and had a chat with JJ, all part of filming I guess.
Another great day was actually the scene where all the troopers turn to see the planet explode. This was a really long day, 13 hours in costume I believe and such a scorcher. Troopers were passing out from heat and sweat constantly running down our backs into our boots, so glamorous! Continuous running day so no break for dinner as such. Anyway the day had come to an end and we were tired, waiting for the word,” wrap” but an AD came over to us troopers and said: ‘I need two troopers’, one guy said ok and the next made up an excuse that his helmet was missing, so I said: ‘OK, I’m in’. We were taken out past set and behind an easy-up, and there waiting and looking was Mark Hamill himself, with his wife and two children. We walked up and he approached me and said: ‘Hi, pleased to meet you, I would shake your hand but you’re carrying a gun and helmet’, I instantly replied with: ‘I can put the helmet down’, smiled and introduced myself. We were photographed with Mr. Hamill, me to his left pointing my gun at him and he is looking at me. I guess this was just a personal photograph but it might come out somewhere later. Again he was very humble and thanked me for my time, true gent. Great day for me.
And finally for me, for now was the day when we got to set and the trooper costumes had been cleaned and polished. We were told that Annie Leibovitz (editor’s note: a very famous photographer who did a Star Wars photoshoot for Vanity Fair) was here to photograph us, wow, this was awesome. We were taken down to ‘The Paddock’ area of rough ground at back of Pinewood Studio where many outdoor scenes are done. Here we posed with Gwendoline Christie in full silver suit! I stood directly behind her right with a red captain flash on my shoulder…this photo has yet to emerge.
Then we were asked to pose in the mud for more photos, there were only about 5, 6 troopers used for this shoot which was to be used for the magazine Vanity Fair, she is a total perfectionist and people were running about after her every whim. She was not happy with the suits being so clean, and we were all splashed with mud to give the shots more realism. Much to the disgust of the costume department, who would have to clean them all off again.
Finally a great group shot with crew, great day.
I bet strange or funny things have happened during the making of the movie.
One of the strange days was the day when Harrison Ford had the accident (editor’s note: he broke his leg on the set), I had in fact just got to set that day only to be told to go home…at this point no one knew what had happened and it was not till I got home that I found out about his accident. I won’t go into it any more as it’s not my place but the whole set was shut down. That was an easy short day. On return to set I had decided to get him a get well card with Darth Vader on the front, I got several troopers to sign it and wrote, “Get well soon, from the enemy”. I hope it made him chuckle.
You mentioned JJ Abrams earlier in this interview. What do you think of him as a director?
JJ is very calm and focused on what he wants, on the rare occasion that he does speak he commands the set and speaks with a controlled voice that only comes from experience. Most of the time the producer Tommy Harper runs the show to be honest and JJ is there behind the screens making sure everything is the way he wants. Tommy is a well-loved character on set and could always be heard shouting, “Energy Energy”, with every take, with his broad Scottish accent. The main impression I got from JJ is that he was honored to be directing The Force Awakens and loved every minute of it.
Besides acting you’ve also worked as a voiceover. Which of these two do you prefer?
Yes, I have been heavily involved in two voiceover projects, which not only had me doing voiceover but also on location in Finland in winter and summer. I was involved in production also but I have to say acting is what I love; becoming someone else for the day has its appeal.
Last question: what do you regard as the highlight of your career?
Well I have done a lot in my life but I have to say that being involved in something as awesome as Star Wars has to be right at the top of the list of achievements.
Thank you for this interview! You surely had a lot of interesting things to say!
Met dank aan Rick van Sci-Fi signers united!Meer interviews vind je (behalve op StarWarsAwakens.nl) op Star Wars Interviews!
Exclusief interview met Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Het is alweer 22 jaar geleden dat The New Rebellion, een Star Wars boek van de Amerikaanse schrijfster Kristine Kathryn Rusch, verscheen. Gedurende haar lange carrière schreef ze ook voor franchises als Star Trek en Alien én won ze een HUGO Award.
Onlangs sprak ik haar over haar bijdrage aan de ‘Expanded Universe’ en had ze een boeiende onthulling over een geannuleerd Star Wars project…
Interview met Kristine Kathryn Rusch
When and where was your first encounter with Star Wars? And what did you think of it?
I saw Star Wars: A New Hope the night it premiered. I was in high school, and a group of us went to the movies, with no idea what we were going to see. I was hooked from that moment forward.
What was your inspiration while writing The New Rebellion, and what directions did you get from Lucasfilm? How did you come up with the story for The New Rebellion?
I wasn’t all that fond of the way that the previous books had gone. I hated what the male writers had done to Leia (making her a wife and mommy instead of the strong woman that she was), and so I just went back to the first three films, which I really, really loved. I worked as well as I could within the framework of the previous novels, ignoring as much of them as possible, and restoring as much of what I loved about Star Wars as possible. Lucasfilm was very supportive. They gave me pages of detailed notes when I was done, but those were mostly terminology nits, not actual changes.
Which existing Star Wars character you enjoyed the most writing about?
Han Solo. He is, by far, my favorite.
Could you explain why?
Han? The ultimate bad boy with a heart of gold? The true hero of the piece? The one who actually rescues people? Has a sense of humor? Fights despite his cynicism, even though he has no dog in the hunt? That Han? Yep. That’s why I like him.
Which Star Wars character created by you is your favorite?
I never have a favorite among characters I create.
Although you did get to write a Star Wars trivia book, The New Rebellion was unfortunately your only Star Wars novel. What was the reason for this?
The Science Fiction Writers of America -which I did not belong to- went to war with Lucasfilm over royalties. I strongly disagreed with SFWA and told them so. I was working hand-in-glove with Lucasfilm on a bible for the books…when SFWA sent Lucasfilm a cease-and-desist letter over their royalties and- without my permission -signed my name to it. They signed a number of Star Wars writers’ names to the petition, without permission. Lucasfilm did not believe me when I told them I wasn’t involved (I don’t blame them). I really should have sued SFWA. They cost me over $100,000 with that action. And they cost me the chance to work in a series I loved.
You just referred to a ‘bible for the books’ you were working on. What kind of book was that? Something like 2012’s Essential Readers Companion; a book with descriptions of every Star Wars story?
In TV, in particular, and in film sometimes, the people who produce the show develop a “bible” which allows anyone who writes to know what’s going to happen next. Kevin J. Anderson and I were putting together a large bible for the series of books along with Lucasfilm to determine what direction the books would take over the next several years. It’s more complicated than what you’ve described, and would have taken us a great deal of work by the time we finished. We had just held the preliminary meetings when SFWA nuked everything.
In 2014, Disney declared the Expanded Universe was no longer canon. It became ‘Legends’. What do you think of this, seeing all of your work suddenly become non-canon?
It doesn’t bother me at all. I did work-for-hire, so the owners of the property can do whatever they want with it. I knew that when I signed on.
You have written books for other Sci-Fi franchises like Alien, Quantum Leap and Star Trek. In which ways was writing for these franchises different? And what is it –according to you- that makes Star Wars so unique?
The smaller franchises (Alien, Quantum Leap) really didn’t get involved in the books. We could have written anything, and no one would have cared. Star Trek and Paramount are very involved, and the same with Lucasfilm back in the day. I prefer that. I liked being part of the organization.
Final question: How do you look back at your Star Wars work?
I think I was lucky to have the chance to play in that universe. My 16-year-old self would be very proud.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…
Exclusief interview met Rusty Goffe (Kabe, GONK droid, Jawa)
De Britse acteur Rusty Goffe speelde maar liefst drie rollen in de allereerste Star Wars film uit 1977. Hij was op Tatooine te zien als Jawa, GONK en de aan juri-juice verslaafde Chadra-Fan genaamd Kabe!
Onlangs was Rusty in Nederland aanwezig bij een speciale Harry Potter-dag (een andere franchise waarin hij te zien was) in de Lemistore te Almere. Na afloop sprak Dennis hem over zijn Star Wars ervaringen!
Interview met Rusty Goffe
How did you get cast for the first Star Wars movie?
Way back in the 70’s there weren’t many dwarf actors. You had Kenny Baker who played R2-D2 and his partner Jack Purvis who was the chief Jawa and there was me! They tried me out for R2-D2 in case Kenny couldn’t cope inside the droid. Luckily he was alright so they cast me as a Jawa and it followed on from there.
One day I went into the studio and the special effects guy said “bend over and touch your toes”, which I did and they put some suit over me. They called George Lucas and said “George, how is this for a character?” George said “I love it, and we will call that a GONK”. So, that’s how the GONK droid happened.
The third character I played was Kabe in the Mos Eisley cantina. She was originally played by an elderly lady called Gilda. The costume was absolutely horrendous like every other costume was and she collapsed and fainted. She couldn’t continue so George Lucas said “Rusty, get in the dress”. That was it! I played three characters!
You mentioned the GONK. The most famous scene of him is in the sandcrawler making the legendary GONK noise. That’s you!
Yeah, that’s me! And then you’ll see a Jawa, that’s Jack Purvis. Right after that you see the GONK again with a Jawa, but this time Jack is the GONK and I am the Jawa, we switched roles and it was hysterical.
Were you in Tunisia to film Jawa scenes?
No, I was only filming at the Elstree Studios.
So, all your Jawa scenes are the interior shots.
Yes, and also in the cantina when Luke comes down the stairs with Obi-Wan you see a Jawa rushing around them that is me as well!
What was the funniest thing that happened on the set?
That was when Sir Alec Guinness was coming with Luke in the cantina. George Lucas instructed me to rush towards them and just pass them quickly on their left. Before it was ‘action’ the first assistant director said “pass Sir Alec on the right”. That was the last direction I got, but no one told Sir Alec that, so I nearly knocked him over. He thought I was going left but I went right. I said “sorry” and then George Lucas said “what the hell are you doing, you should have gone left” but luckily the assistant director said he told me to. So, I was exonerated. So in short: the funniest thing was I nearly killed the star of the show. (laughs)
Without a lightsaber.
What do you regard as the best memory you have of your time working on Star Wars?
No one knew what we were doing. It was fantastic to film everything and I would do it all over again if I could go back. George Lucas and Gary Kurtz were like two young college guys making a movie with all these lovely actors. We didn’t know how big it was going to be. It went from a cheap budget film to 48 billion dollars later!
When did you see Star Wars for the first time?
That was two months after it opened. I sat in the cinema and loved it when those spaceships came from behind us. I was “wow, this is it”. The clever bit was, which I didn’t realize then, the way John Williams wrote the Star Wars theme. The first note of the Star Wars theme is the same as the last note of the 20th Century Fox theme. (Starts humming the Fox theme) So, the brain didn’t have to think. It flows if you know what I mean.
Now that’s some cool trivia.
Everyone at the cinema was happy. It had spaceships, swashbuckling pirates, swordfights. It’s what the world needed. Well done George Lucas.
You didn’t return in The Empire Strikes Back. How come?
Because I was doing other movies at the time like History of the World Part I with Mel Brooks, a movie I wanted to do. It was fantastic with those guys. I can proudly say I was in the first Star Wars, the baby of the franchise.
One of your characters, Kabe, got her name and backstory in the late 80’s and mid 90’s. Have you ever read her short story in the anthology book Tales of the Mos Eisley cantina?
No, I haven’t. I wasn’t aware of that.
Well, I can absolutely recommend it as it’s a great story.
I will definitely look for that! As I said that costume was so hot. You couldn’t breathe in it and it was so claustrophobic. It wasn’t something for every person. Still, it was an unbelievable time.
You were in your twenties back then right?
I was very young, yes. I’m still young now. (laughs)
(Laughs). That’s a great way to end this interview. Thanks!
Met dank aan Casper en Lemistore voor het mogelijk maken van dit interview!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…
Exclusief interview met Daniel Keys Moran
Medio jaren 90 was het de Amerikaanse auteur Daniel Keys Moran die Boba Fett ‘nieuw leven gaf’. Voor de korte verhalen bundels Tales from the Bounty Hunters en Tales from Jabba’s Palace schreef hij hoe Fett aan de Sarlacc ontsnapte en zijn loopbaan als premiejager vervolgde terwijl hij ook met een verhaal aan Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina bij heeft gedragen.
Daar het gonst van de geruchten over een Boba Fett film was het dus hoog tijd om hem te interviewen voor deze site!
Interview met Daniel Keys Moran
I’d like to start at the very beginning: what got you into writing and how did your career take off?
I can’t remember ever not wanting to be writer. Wrote my first novel at 8 “Third Degree Magic,” the main two characters were me and my friend Steve. The bad guy was named “Diablo.”
Sent my first story off to a magazine at 13, “A Day in the Life of a Telephone Pole.” Wrote my first real novel at 15, an alien invasion western novel. Finally sold a story to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, at 18. Few years after that sold my first novel to Amy Stout at Bantam Doubleday, we’re now married and have five children together.
When and where was your first encounter with Star Wars? And what did you think of it?
My high school debate team won a pretty big debate and as a reward we were offered the chance to do several different things one of them was going to see this obscure movie called Star Wars at the Chinese Theater on opening day. I don’t think we were at the first showing I vaguely recall getting back to the school pretty late in the day but maybe the second or third showing. Pretty good chance David Gerrold (the writer of “Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles,” Chtorr, “The Man Who Folded Himself”) who later got to be a great friend, was in the theater with me when we watched it. He was also there for an early showing, that first day.
I was blown away. It was the first SF movie that managed onscreen the sorts of things I saw in my head when I read Edgar Rice Burroughs.
You wrote two short stories about Fett (called A Barve Like That and The Last One Standing), creating a lot of background for the character, who was especially back then a huge fan favorite. How did you approach this massive task?
It wasn’t a massive task. It was a short story and a novella, and while I put a lot of skull sweat into them, most of what I’ve ever written’s been a heavier lift. They were fun to write, aside from dealing with Lucasfilm. I put a pseudonym on “A Barve Like That” because I was cranky with Lucasfilm; they were mad about that. So it was a surprise to me when they had me write “The Last One Standing” I was pretty blunt by that point, having done two stories already and scratched the itch to work professionally on Star Wars. Wrote them an outline, told them they could have it or not have it but I was writing what was in the outline, and they said yes. So that was a surprise. Then they tried to excise what was probably my favorite scene in that story; Kevin J. Anderson stopped them, and I’m grateful for that. It was published as written, minus a few word changes here or there.
It’s one of my favorite stories. It came from Harrison Ford’s desire to see Han Solo die in Return of the Jedi “he’s got no Mama, he’s got no Papa, he’s got no story.” So I took that and ran with it. I did the first “Old Han” story as well as the first real Boba Fett story, taking them into the future and dealing with the loss of their youth.
You also wrote the tale of Kardue’sai’Malloc, the devaronian seen in the Cantina. What was your inspiration to write his story?
That was a pure “I want to write Star Wars” thing. Kathy Tyers had written an excellent story about the Modal Nodes, the band that plays during the Cantina scene I wrote a story that surrounded hers, about Kardue/Labria, who always seemed to me to be having an awfully great time in the bar that day. Turned him into a music collector who worshipped the Modal Nodes, and had a fun story about how he arranged to have them playing at the bar that day.
One of your Boba Fett stories and the Devaronian’s tale were heavily edited. In fact, the Fett story was published under your pseudonym JD Montgomery. What was exactly edited, and what was the reason?
Devaronian’s Tale wasn’t edited that much. Mostly they wouldn’t let me swear, or mention whores. I wasn’t thrilled with the changes, but they were minor.
I don’t know what happened with “A Barve Like That.” I agreed to do it, then they told me I couldn’t really write my outline, where Fett spent years down in the Sarlacc; he could only be down there for a day or two. So I wrote that story. Then they told me the Sarlacc couldn’t be intelligent, which was the actual center of the weakened story, so I took all the Sarlacc’s contribution to the story and gave it to one of Fett’s fellow prisoners “Susejo,” or O Jesus backwards. I’ve had people write me telling me they loved that story, and OK, but man, it was only a shadow of what it should have been. In its final form Fett falls into the Sarlacc, argues with a fellow prisoner, and climbs back out again. Eh.
How did you react to the news your stories were edited and why did you choose to have one being published under a pseudonym?
I behaved with forthright and reasonable bluntness. Later on I met one of the ladies who worked at Lucasfilm, and upon hearing my name, she took two steps backwards. So maybe my perception isn’t the whole of the story.
I always thought that back in the 90’s Lucasfilm didn’t want authors to write about the pre-A New Hope era because they were making the prequel trilogy. However, they let you write about Boba Fett in his younger days. Do you know why they approved that?
A couple of years after your Fett stories the movie Attack of the Clones showed the origins of Fett, contradicting your stories. How did you feel about this and which version do you prefer?
I prefer mine, of course. But it didn’t particularly annoy me. I don’t care much about canon, and my stories are still out there for anyone who wants to read them. And frankly, even within the universe of commercial fiction, Lucas was utterly contemptuous of his own early writing, when it came time to make the prequels. The idea that I should get annoyed about him ignoring mine? No.
In your stories Fett’s real name was Jaster Mereel, something which was later retconned and Jaster became another Mandalorian. Did you know about these retcons and do you like them?
I haven’t followed along with anything except the televised & movie material. Shout out to Star Wars Rebels, there that was a fine piece of work. Watched it with my youngest boy, start to finish.
There are rumors about a Fett spinoff. Any advice for Lucasfilm? You’re the expert!
I’ve had a guy at Disney email me a couple times over the years regarding Lucasfilm adapting “Last One Standing” into a Fett movie. Not asking permission, they own those works, just letting me know they were thinking about it. So that was kind. But after Solo stiffed, apparently there’s some question about the Fett movie being made.
As to advice for Disney? I thought The Last Jedi was brilliant, the first Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back I thought was a complete success on its own terms. Then I thought Solo was perfectly adequate and inoffensive, and as much as I love Star Wars, that’s a little sad. So for advice? Get the creative team behind The Last Jedi on your Fett movie, rather than the team behind Solo.
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…
Exclusief interview met Rick Stanley (Cutthroat hunter)
In de herfst van 2017 kreeg ik een bericht uit Engeland: Rick Stanley, een Amerikaanse Star Wars vriend van me die daar woont wist te melden dat het hem gelukt was: hij was gecast voor de rol van Cutthroat Hunter in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ik ken Rick al jaren, hij heeft me als oprichter van Sci-Fi Signers vaak geholpen en nog voordat ik het kon vragen gaf hij aan graag zijn verhaal te willen vertellen.
In onderstaand interview doet hij zijn Star Wars verhaal uit de doeken: van trouwen met een Britse actrice uit The Empire Strikes Back tot een site voor Star Wars acteurs opzetten tot zelf gecast worden voor Solo!
Interview met Rick Stanley
I’ve known you for many years and you’ve helped me with a lot of interviews so this is weird and fantastic at the same time! You’re in a Star Wars movie! How does that feel?
It’s been a real pleasure Dennis knowing you all this time and it’s been an honor helping you out! You have done an excellent job with Star Wars Interviews over the years with all the many fascinating interviews you have conducted! It is strange because I never thought I would work on a Star Wars film and have the great honor of being interviewed by you! To say I was over the moon and floating on air when I found out that I was booked for one is a vast understatement! It’s unbelievable how hard it is to get on anything with the Star Wars name and I consider myself very, very fortunate!
When and where did you see a Star Wars movie for the first time and did you become a fan right at that moment?
Well that’s kind of a long story. I was almost 20 years old when A New Hope came out and actually didn’t see it until it was broadcast on HBO. In 1977 being the age that I was all I could think about were all the B science fiction films that were in abundance as I was growing up! I know it sounds sacrileges to say but I even thought the name ‘Star Wars‘ when I first heard of it sounded cheesy! All I could think of was pie plates on fishing lines. Even all the hype and hoopla didn’t influence me and there was plenty of it at that time! I’m from Orlando, Florida and what turned me around was in 1980 I went to work temporarily down in West Palm Beach for a company that an uncle of mine was vice president of. I only worked the week days and the company would offer to fly me back home or reimburse me for my petrol if I wanted to drive. Well one weekend I didn’t want to spend the time going back home so I just hung out and saw that The Empire Strikes Back was playing at the theatres. I went to see it to find out what all the fuss was about and was completely wowed by it and have been an avid fan ever since! I to this day still regret not seeing A New Hope when it was fresh in the theatres!
Your wife (Stephanie English) was in The Empire Strikes Back 38 years ago. What took you so long to get cast for a Star Wars movie? Seriously: how did you manage it?
Yes, it’s hard to believe that I saw my future wife Stephanie English in that movie theatre so many years ago in West Palm Beach! She portrayed a Hoth Rebel Technician at Echo Base. She has been working in the film business for 42 years. We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary actually on the other Star Wars day May 25th. We didn’t plan to have it on that day which was amazing it happened that way! Stephanie got me into film work shortly after we got married and I moved to London. The way it happened is Stephanie got an email from one of her agencies that she is with asking if she knew anybody who had an American vehicle. She responded saying her husband ‘me’ had a pickup truck. I brought my Ford Ranger pickup truck with me when I moved to London. I ended driving it in the Ridley Scott film The Counselor and that was my first film work gig. Since then I have worked on quite a few productions, mainly background but some featured and the one that I’m really proud of is a National Geographic movie documentary called The Jesus Mysteries where I played a main cast part as the apostle James the Elder alongside Nick Simmons who portrayed Jesus. Nick is the son of the founder and bass guitarist of the rock group KISS Gene Simmons. With getting on a Star Wars film or any film for that matter it’s really luck of the draw but I think it’s even harder because of the popularity of Star Wars and the same with films like the Harry Potter prequels. It’s mainly about your looks and what they are looking for to fill a role at the time. I was put up for Rogue One which I would have loved to have got on but to no avail! Now with Solo I was put up for it 4 times and the fourth time was the charm! I was very happy when I heard that I was going to be included into that “hive of scum and villainy”!
You run a great website called Sci-Fi Signers United where convention organizers can book actors from Star Wars and many other franchises. For the people who don’t know this site: what was the reason you started it?
Thank you for those kind words! Well actually a mutual acquaintance of mine and my wife started what was called the Sci-Fi Convention Signers Co-Operative and I helped run it with him until he decided to disband it. After that I started the Sci-Fi Signers United from scratch and kept the same spirit there! It’s a site where organizers can contact the actors and film professionals directly for shows and autographs without having to go through an agent. I don’t make any money from it. I offer it as a free service for the signers to help them out. A lot of them that are on it are mutual friends that Stephanie has worked with over the years and some of the new ones are friends I have worked with on other productions.
Since you’re Star Wars character now I was wondering if you’re about to enter the signing/convention circuit yourself now?
No, it just wouldn’t be my cup of tea to do it. I really enjoyed going around the country with Stephanie when she was signing at shows but she is retired from doing them now and it wouldn’t interest me at all to do it myself. I will consign it to good memories of fun times! We both want to concentrate on the film work and I’m content just keeping the Sci-Fi Signers United running!
Back to Solo: please tell everything about the character you played and in which scenes you were in.
To start off when I went for my fitting I asked what my character was called and was supposed to be and the wardrobe guy said I was playing a reprobate a ‘cutthroat hunter’. I said well that sounds pretty cool! I was wearing a dark beret, a blueish grey long sleeved shirt, a dark suede coat that came down below my knees and it was left open with a wide belt wrapped around it with a large rectangle silver belt buckle and I had a leather ammo pouch attached to the belt. My trousers were baggy and black almost like cossack trousers. I also wore tall brown boots with greyish colored boot guards wrapped around them. To top it off I had an orange neck scarf that the wardrobe lady would make a point tying it in a French knot. She called me her little Frenchman every time I would go to change in to costume! From the day I got fitted to my last day on it I got French resistance comments and even one of the costume designers was amused by it when we were lined up my first day on set for a costume check! I also got a lot of Che Guevera comments because I guess I kind of looked like him with the beard and beret. I had a prosthetic scar on the left side of my face. It was a really cool getup! I was there for the Sabacc table scenes, the droid arena scenes and several bar area scenes! It was a really big and amazing set and spent I would say about 80% of my time on set. Some films you can spend hours in the green room or holding area before you are called to set but that wasn’t my experience on this one. I felt lucky when I was able to get outside to have a cigarette break I was on it a week and did 12/13 hour days each day. I was exhausted but man it was worth it! Also one of the days I was there they took me to a different part of the studio and did a 3-D scan on me in costume and also I did an action photo shoot doing various poses.
You were on the set with most of the main actors like Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover. How were all those stars on the set and behind the scenes?
All of them were absolutely awesome and what an honor it was for me to be amongst them with the many others who were there with me also! Man I’m still pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t all a dream! They all nailed their parts brilliantly and it was an honor to be able to witness that first hand and be a part of it all!
Could you share some good anecdotes regarding your time working on Solo? The more the better of course!
Well let’s see… there was one time when we were waiting for them to set up another shot on a different part of the set I decided to rest my weary legs after standing up most of the day and took a seat on Han’s sabacc table stool except I was sitting backwards to the table with both my elbows propped on the table with my legs stretched out and crossed in front of me. The only others that were sitting in that part of the room with me at the time were Therm Scissorpunch and his alien buddies! Another time I was waiting again for them to set up a shot and I was sitting on the stairs facing the bar area and the girl taking care of Joonas Suotamo stood directly in front me and had his Chewbacca mask in her hands but she was holding it behind her talking to somebody in front of her. She backed up a little too close to me and it started brushing me in the face so I had to move and find a different spot! My wife Stephanie dropped me off at Pinewood Studios each day in the morning and picked me up when we wrapped for the day and I would always sit at a bench next to the security office waiting for her to roll up in the car. The second day I was really tired because I hadn’t had much sleep the night before and also the night before that. I just wanted to get home, take a shower, get something to eat, go to bed and start it all over the next day! I completely forgot to have hair and makeup remove my scar after I derigged. When I sat down on the bench waiting for Stephanie a young woman was sitting on the bench also. After a while she looked at me and asked me if I was a stunt man. I said no why? Then she said how did you get that scar? At that moment I realized that I forgot to have it removed. I told her I was working on a film and it wasn’t real. She then asked me what film I was working on and I told her I couldn’t say! I thought that was pretty funny!
You joined Solo after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard, a real veteran director. How was he to work with and how does he distinguish himself from other directors?
Wow!!! What an honor it was to be directed by the legend who is Ron Howard! I would call him a director’s director! It was a pleasure to see him work and do his magic! He is a very hands-on director and knows exactly what he wants! He is also the first Oscar winning director to direct a Star Wars film! I grew up watching him on the Andy Griffith show and when I was a teenager watching him on Happy Days and the George Lucas masterpiece film which is American Graffiti!
What are the chances we will see a Rick Stanley action figure in the future?
Hahaha!!! Well they do have the scans and photos so they have the tools to make it possible! A person can only hope!!!
Meer unieke interviews vind je op: Star Wars Interviews – ‘Mem-Wars’ from a galaxy far, far away…