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Exclusief interview met Mark Alec Rutter (First Order Stormtrooper)

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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.

Marc Alec Rutter

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.

Marc Alec Rutter

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!SCiFiSignersMeer interviews vind je (behalve op StarWarsAwakens.nl) op Star Wars Interviews!

Star Wars Interviews

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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  1. Pingback: The Force Awakens Bits: Set Stories From a Stormtroopers, Deleted Scenes, and a Bunch of New Toys - Next Big Film

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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Nick Stanner (Stunt performer – The Mandalorian)

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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!


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Jake Cannavale (Toro Calican)

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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.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Richard Stride (Poggle)

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Door de jaren heen is er de meest grappige en bizarre Star Wars trivia in boeken en op internet verschenen, maar wat de geur(!) van de Death Star plannen was -tot vandaag!- goed bewaard gebleven!

In een interview met zustersite StarWarsInterviews.com deelt Richard Stride (die aan Attack of the Clones en Revenge of the Sith meewerkte) een leuke anecdote.


How did you get started in the movie business and how did you get the parts of Poggle and a Clone Trooper in Star Wars?

I went to drama school at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts and in 1993 I graduated and went straight into a Hollywood movie called First Knight. I actually was originally cast as Obi-Wan’s double for the films Episode II and III. However, I gained many extra characters along the way.

How did you play Poggle?

I was in motion capture suit and had a great scene with the late Christopher Lee. When filming the scene with Christopher Lee, with the Death Star plans, I made a remark to the props guy that how clever even the smallest props where in design and craftsmanship in even the Death Star Plans. He started to laugh which was strange and when I asked him what was so funny he told me they had forgot to make them and he had to dash out the day before and went to Halfords and it actually was a car air freshener. So I told Christopher Lee when handing over the Death Star plans it was something to freshen the whole Galaxy with.

Can you share some of your memories regarding the time you worked on both movies?

I loved it. I spent all my time on set and didn’t really go to the green room as it was so much more interesting to watch other peoples scenes etc. It was lovely to be part of a big family on set and chat to so many interesting people.

How did George Lucas direct you?

He is a very visual director and has a very clear idea of what he is after. You have to put your trust fully in a director as they can see everything, and that’s what I did.

Did they give you any memorabilia after the movie was finished?

I was given a T-shirt and a signed call sheet on the last day of filming and a personal thankyou of George Lucas.

When was your first encounter with the Star Wars phenomena?

I saw it as a child on TV and loved it. I watch it over and over again.

What are your thoughts on the two Star Wars movies you were in? 

I liked them and they are great movies to keep returning to as you learn something new each time.

What do you regard as the highlight of your career so far?

I loved doing Star Wars, but also Shakespeare in Love, and playing Hamlet for the stage.


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Interviews

Exclusief interview met Paul Brooke (Rancor Keeper)

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Het is een van de meest bekende scenes uit Return of the Jedi: de scene waarin we een huilende Rancor keeper zien met op de achtergrond de zojuist door Luke verslagen mega monster. Afgelopen december was de Britse acteur Paul Brooke die deze rol vertolkte te gast op de EchoBase conventie in Utrecht. Uiteraard sprak ik hem voor mijn site StarWarsInterviews.com over de wellicht meest bekende seconden uit zijn leven én kwam ook een van de meest bekende acteurs allertijden ter sprake. Volgens traditie is het interview ook hier te lezen.


How did you get cast for Return of the Jedi?

I was touring India with a play for the British Council and my manager had trouble getting in touch with me because we were moving around from city to city. When we got to Calcutta, there was a message in the hotel waiting which said, “I’ve accepted two days filming for you the week you get home”. You have nothing to do. But we both made the money. Which made me laugh at the time and hadn’t really made me laugh ever since because I feel like I’m privileged to be even in a small role, the smallest role I ever played in front of a camera in a lucky career where I’ve rarely stopped working. But how lucky I was to be part of this extraordinary franchise.

What was your initial feeling when you got the part? Star Wars was very popular and this much anticipated movie promised to be big; it had the biggest budget of all three.

I wouldn’t have known that from my two mornings. But having said that, I’ve appreciated it, to be honest, more over time than I did at the time. For the reason that I’ve given you. Because I was nice and busy, I was lucky with work, and I was normally playing much better parts. But then the fact that people remember after all these years and that I get mail every week shows that even if it’s a small part, if it works, which is not just tied to the actor, of course it’s down to the script and everything. But if it works, it can make an impact that people will stick with. I’ve had the most extraordinary stories from people over the years of not only of their enjoyment, but of the passing on their enjoyment to their children and even grandchildren, which is rather touching. Probably if I’ve been offered the part and I was at home because I had loads of work where I had more to do, I would probably have turned it down and I would have regretted it like mad with hindsight.

Did you see the other two movies?

I think I’ve seen them both. I’ve certainly seen Star Wars. I was amazed and surprised that a very intellectual British theatre director, a famous guy at the time called William Gaskell, who I worked with at Royal Court Theatre, a pioneering theatre in London and who was rather up-market in all sorts of respect. I was doing a play with him before I got offered Return of the Jedi and he came out with the fact that he was a huge Star Wars fan. At the time I hadn’t seen the film and I didn’t think I thought, well Sci-Fi not particularly my scene. But then when Gaskell said, but it’s wonderful, it’s absolutely wonderful. You have to see it. So, I did and I was hooked like all the millions of others over the years.

What do you remember about the filming of your scenes?

The main thing I remember is how short it was. I did the little bit with Mark Hamill and then the following morning it was just me on a rostrum in front of a blue screen. No Rancor and nobody except for me being given directions by Richard Marquand, the director. Raising my head a little, turning the right a little up a little more. Now you’re looking at the Rancor, which of course I wasn’t, because the Rancor wasn’t there. And then on the cue having to burst into tears. That was my experience from the acting point of view. I mean, that in itself is not easy because normally you have other actors or even if the Rancor had been there in some shape or form you can respond to that. Responding to thin air is not always easy.

Did you know then what the Rancor looked like?

No, not at all.

The first time was when I saw the film and the first time I was actually WITH the Rancor was two years ago in Kentucky when this guy who built a huge Rancor for thousands of dollars and who takes it round the conventions, making money from people to be photographed with the Rancor. He said my model is up, would you pop up when you have a break, have some photos taken? I said “of course!”, and it was stunning.

Can you share any remarkable, unique, strange or funny things that happened?

I think the strangest is what I’ve already told you because it was so brief. I didn’t get to know any of the other actors. So, I said hello and shook hands with Mark Hamill. There were no personal stories. The strangest thing I think was the only time at that that I had to do something which was apparently responding to a creature that wasn’t there. But I’ve had other strange experiences in films and television. Maybe the strangest acting during a scene with Marlon Brando in an anti-apartheid film called Dry White Season, where although he was there and huge at the time. He was one of the only actors who made me feel small. It was really delightful, but he didn’t learn his lines. So, after you’d said you’re lying to him, you waited for ages while the woman upstairs told him through an earpiece what to do next, so there was a silence. You heard this in the background and then he’d come at you one hundred miles an hour force of his personality. You’d come in on cue. Then another long gap while upstairs the line was going into his ear. That’s difficult because you can’t suspend disbelief. It becomes a like an acting exercise because normally the response of the of the people helps you to act well, and if you’re not getting it straight back, there’s nothing to believe. So, when he speaks, you can respond to that but by then you’re out of the action for a period while the woman is telling him what to do. But I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. I mean, heavens, having acted with Marlon Brando, hero of my youth.

In fact, it was filmed in Zimbabwe because they wouldn’t allow at the time an anti-apartheid film to be filmed in South Africa. And I had two scenes there, one with Donald Sutherland and one with Brando. After I had done the scene with Sutherland they said, you can’t go home yet because we don’t know if Marlon Brando is coming or not. They said you don’t have to stay in the capital. You can go sightseeing, you can go to Victoria Falls, Lake Kariba and all these fabulous places but phone in every evening and we’ll let you know. So after about 10 days or something, I phoned in and they said, he’s not coming so you’re on the next plane back to London. I came back alone and they mounted his scenes, I think, at Pinewood, if I remember right. He was just in court scenes, so as isolated section of the film, he played an attorney. Then we filmed those couple of months later or something like that just outside London. When I first met him and introduced him, I said, I’m so grateful to you for not coming to Zimbabwe because I had this fabulous holiday at the film company’s expense. Now here I am at Pinewood being paid all over again for the same job. The great Marlon said to me “Glad to be of service”.

You have done a lot in your career but most people will always remember you for your role in Star Wars. How do you feel about this?

That’s part of the course with the acting game. The greatest thing for the actors of my level, basically a supporting actor, occasionally played leading part but mainly a supporting actor. The main thing is to keep working and you balance a part of which you have a lot to do a film or TV series with something where you don’t, or occasionally you do it just because it pays the bills.

I feel no negativity whatsoever about playing a tiny part and the fact that it has been clearly so focal for so many people is a bonus. You know it’s funny and genuinely touching when people get in touch with me and say “I saw this when I was six and I’ve been a fan ever since”. But I had so little to do. You know if you went to make a cup of tea you’d miss me and they say it doesn’t matter and they’ll always remember that moment. That is quite heartwarming. It’s great to hear.

Earlier this year a Star Wars fan film was released which features your character as a kid. It’s a prequel, an origin story where we see how he meets the Rancor. Have you seen it?

I haven’t seen it. I didn’t know is existed.

I was asked at some point, but after I retired, if I would be up in one of these later films for doing another scene. But I’d retired by then and I thought it was pushing it One of the things you have to remember as an actor is to remain reasonably match fit. You know you have to be up for it. The element of tension in front of a camera or on stage that you can still do your best. I felt having already given it up for a few years. Going back to it would probably not be a good idea.

For which movie was that?

I don’t remember. I’m afraid because I wiped it immediately. All I know is I’ve been retired for 10 years and it was during that 10 years. It was just an inquiry it might not even have come up with a job but I think it might have done because they were moving into this other area and they were I think they wanted to have a bit of a prequel for the Rancor keeper. Maybe they did it with somebody else and I haven’t seen that film that’s possible but I didn’t think that they did it.

The short film I was referring to isn’t official. It’s a fan film. Do you keep up with Star Wars? The new movies, TV series?

I haven’t seen anything of the stuff on television but I think I’ve seen all the films at least once but not the newest one. But I will do because my son will make sure that I do.

You have attended conventions, signing photos and other memorabilia. What is your general feeling to signing things and meeting fans?

Well I haven’t done a lot. I did one, for a different organization. I did one years ago maybe twenty years ago or more which had a bit to do with Star Wars, a bit with James Bond and other productions that I’ve been in. I was offered to attend conventions occasionally but I was always working so I never felt I needed to do it. I thought whatever my current project was I was lucky enough to be doing that. That was what I should be concentrating on. Now being quite a long time retired Zack got in touch with me nearly two years ago and suggested doing one in Kentucky. I thought what the hell. I went and did it and it was thoroughly enjoyable and the three days were packed with people. Then I did one for him ten days ago in Telford. So this is really only my third.

Looking back at Return of the Jedi, what are your feelings towards it?

What can I say. From an acting point of view it wasn’t hugely stretching. But, when I look back I think I’m really lucky to have been part of this legend. I feel that particularly because of the reaction of people and the fact that this very tiny bit of the film is remembered by so many people and think of it fondly. I really like that and probably they think about that much more about that than they do about television or films where I’ve had a lot to do.

I saw the movie in 1983, I was seven at the time, and I still remember you!

(Laughs) Extraordinary. Thank you!


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