In one of the halls of the snared Blockade Runner, Darth Vader, with the equally ruthless Imperial Commander, Daine Jir, alongside him, confronts the captured Princess Leia about her associations with the Rebel Alliance and the location of its secret base.
Being one of the only Imperial commanders able to talk back to Vader in the Original Trilogy without get strangled to death, the role of Jir was played by British actor Al Lampert. Earlier this year, Ian Trussler got the chance to meet Mister Lampert and discovered some great behind the scenes material from him.
Here’s what he found out…
Al originally met with George Lucas alone for consideration for a part in the movie. It was at the 20th Century Fox offices in London. No one else was there-it just the two of them. He was not told about any specific part he was up for it was a general audition for whatever roles Lucas felt you may be suitable for.
Around the same time he went up for a part in A Bridge Too Far and ended up being offered both films and turned down ABTF for Star Wars, mainly because ABTF was working in Belgium in the mud, which he didn’t fancy even though the role was bigger and more weeks work.
He accepted a generic role of an Imperial Officer from Lucas so he didn't actually know that he would be playing Daine Jir. In fact on set the part of Daine Jir had actually been given to an actor called Ken Hutchison (maybe Hutchinson) but when he arrived at ELSTREE he had a beard and Lucas told him "No Beards", presumably Hutchison would not shave it off, and Lucas then gave the role of Jir to Al.
Al went to drama school with Jeremy Bulloch but has not seen him since those days, they have never actually done a show at the same time.
He gives all his signing money to charity, which is really nice of him, I thought. He is currently writing a sci-fi screenplay, which he hopes to finish soon, and has been working on for years.
Up until a couple of years ago when he did his first ever show which was LFCC I think he had no idea that cons and signing were going on and SW actors had so much interest. He has done a few shows abroad and enjoys them, and he told me of a tour he had in America of a massive fan collection which sounded like he had been to Ranch Obi Wan, I said Steve Sansweet’s name and he sort of recognized it.
Back in 2007, I also got the chance to meet Al and can re-confirm what a really nice guy he is. When asked why it had then taken him so long to attend a convention, he simply replied that he had never been asked! As far as he was aware, all of his scenes filmed were in the final movie and nothing was cut, his part in STAR WARS having been just after he had competed work on SPACE:1999’s Season Two story “The Bringers of Wonder”. Lampert was aware of the time pressure to try and finish the first STAR WARS movie, recalled the slightly flimsy Blockade Runner corridor set, and the time when George Lucas had to pull the plug on the shoot when they run out of off money. Even at that point in the films genesis, it had certainly not been finished in Lucas’s eyes.