Als 18 jarige gecast worden voor een Star Wars film en dan ook nog een personage spelen die de afgelopen decennia een cult-status verworven heeft. Dit overkwam Chris Parsons, beter bekend als de bounty hunter 4-LOM (wat staat voor ‘For Love of Money’) uit The Empire Strikes Back.
Begin Augustus kon ik hem diverse vragen stellen over zijn Star Wars ervaringen; het volledige interview is hieronder (uiteraard exclusief op StarWarsAwakens) te lezen!
Interview met Chris Parsons
Hi Mr. Parsons, welcome at StarWarsAwakens.nl! Your Star Wars adventure started when you were just 18. Can you tell how you got cast?
Yes, I was only about 18 when this magical film was made. I was asked to attend an audition at Elstree studios and was shown into a dressing room where the gold C-3PO suit was laid out, I was informed if I was offered the job it would be as a double for the main actor. Other actors had tried the suit but either it would not fit or they didn’t like the head being screwed into place. This role led to all the other characters that I portrayed.
Which other characters did you play?
I was fortunate enough to be asked to portray E-3PO, R-3PO, a Stormtrooper, a Snowtrooper, Death Star Droid, a Rebel soldier and a Snowspeeder pilot as well as K-3PO and 4-LOM, not forgetting C-3PO. I got the other parts I guess because people thought I was reliable and professional and that is what they look for.
Which of all your Star Wars characters is your favorite?
It has to be 4-LOM because although this character was only in the movie briefly, he seems to have captured the imagination of fans and that has been good for me.
4-LOM has become a cult figure over the years. Have you kept up with his background stories?
It’s amazing that 4-LOM has become so popular and I am very proud to be associated with this character. I have from time to time read the odd story concerning past exploits.
What can you tell about your time on the set?
My time on the set was a different experience every day, you never knew whether you would play one character or four in any given day. They were long hours but none of us seemed to mind as the whole environment was like a family. There were many funny incidents during filming and the stories would take a long time to tell but briefly but one that springs to mind is, while in the Hoth Ice Caves, Darth Vader and Snowtroopers are ready to pounce, the director issues “action”, there is smoke in the caves and when it clears, Darth Vader has lost his cloak due to a Snowtrooper treading on it as he began to move, this generated a lot of laughs among the crew as you can imagine.
In Return of the Jedi you worked as C-3PO’s/Anthony Daniels’ stand-in. Was there any specific reason you didn’t play another character in this movie?
I acted in some capacity as Anthony Daniel’s stand-in when the main stand-in wasn’t available. I was also C-3PO’s double which is not to be confused with a stand-in. I also played a Stormtrooper in this movie.
You played the part of C-3PO on various occasions beside the movie: the children’s program Blue Peter and in the short movie Return of the Ewok. Did Anthony Daniels teach you in any way how to act as C-3PO?
Apart from the above, I was privileged to be asked to attend the World Premiere of The Empire Strikes Back in London as C-3PO and other charity events. Anthony Daniels gave me no input as to C-3PO, I learnt through watching C-3PO at work and practiced the voice. The way C-3PO walks is not exclusive to that character, the suit makes you walk in a certain style. I already had plenty of practice of movement through being in K-3PO and E-3PO so that put me in a good position.
Besides The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi you were in big productions like Raiders of the Lost Ark, For Your Eyes Only and The Shining, but if I’m correct you haven’t worked on a movie since the mid-80’s. What is the reason for this?
Most actors spend a lot of time without work and that means no money, so as I realised unless I hit the big time, I would need to find something beneficial for my future well being. I therefore went into business outside of the film industry with the intention of returning in the future. I am in the position now of being able to look for acting roles without the pressure of financial burdens.
You have been in the convention circuit for some years now. What do you like the most about being a (signing)guest and what is the most remarkable or crazy thing that happened at a show?
At conventions I have been given the insight as to how fans really feel towards certain films, it is a great honour for me to meet these fans because they love the characters I was involved with. There are many different facts I can recount but recently I have been given the honour of being presented at a show, a Stormtrooper costume which is made to the exact specifications of those used of The Empire Strikes Back, this I can use hopefully to benefit charities that I am involved with.
My last question: Star Wars is bigger than ever these days. How do you feel about having been a part of the most popular franchise ever?
To find myself popular with fans after so many years, makes me lost for words. All those years ago we were all working on an interesting project which was at the time just another form of employment. I think all my fellow actors would agree with me that none of us could imagine how immense the Trilogy and the whole saga would become. Very grateful to be a part of it and I hope Disney give me the opportunity of playing a small part in future episodes as that interests me greatly.
I’d love to see you return as 4-LOM and I’m sure many fans will agree! Thank you!