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Saturday, 31 March 2012

ARCHIVE BLOG: SILAS CARSON AT THE F.A.C.T.S. CONVENTION - GHENT, BELGIUM; 11/10/2008

A man of many faces: Silas Carson. Image: Ian Trussler.


By Ian Trussler


The F.A.C.T.S. Convention in Belgium has been running for several years now and gets a wide selection of guests. This year their only Star Wars actor was Silas Carson, a man who has done very few conventions and is a rare signer.

I decided to make the long day trip with the sole intention of meeting Silas, someone whom I had wanted to add to my collection for a long time.

I was not disappointed; Silas was very friendly and more than happy to talk about his career and time on the Prequels. We had a few chats over the course of the day and here is the info I gathered.

To clarify, Silas Carson played the following characters:

Ki- Adi Mundi - Episodes I, II and III
Nute Gunray - Episodes I, II and III
Lott Dod - Episode I
Jedi Cruiser Pilot - Episode I

Silas is the only member of his family that is in the acting business, nobody before him or since has joined the profession. His exotic looks come from his mother who is Indian and father who is Anglo-Irish. Many casting directors mistake him for Moroccan or Middle Eastern and he has been offered many roles in that vain.

Silas as Nute Gunray in EPISODE I.

During Episode I he spent the vast majority of his time playing the part of Nute Gunray, which he described as being very difficult and at times a bit of a nightmare. He told me the animatronic head they used required an off screen operator to attempt to radio control the mouth to lip synch with the dialogue he spoke on set. The mechanics would frequently break down causing delays and frustration. Silas provided the voice for both Nute Gunray and Ki- Adi Mundi. He only played the costumed body of Lott Dod as the voice was done by Toby Longworth. Silas doesn't like to lay any claim to the role of Lott Dod as he didn't do the voice and doesn't sign pictures of that character.

The accent for the voice of Nute Gunray was in fact based on that of Thailand and not Japan as many people mistakenly think. George Lucas had actors from Thailand record the lines of dialogue and then gave the tapes to Silas to mimic. For Ki- Adi Mundi he just used is own voice but made it a bit more stilted. All of the dialogue for Nute Gunray was re-recorded after filming as the on set sound was very poor through the mask.

Silas feels that the fact he provided the voices for his characters had a major part in him being retained for the second and third episodes, unlike Jerome Blake who did not return for Episode II and only did one very small pick up scene as Mas Amedda in Episode III.

Silas as Jedi Ki-Adi Mundi in EPISODE II.

On Episode II, the situation was reversed and he spent more time as Ki- Adi Mundi than Nute Gunray, mainly due to the extensive fight sequence.

With the exception of the Droid Control Ship sequence, Silas doesn't recall any other major scenes of his being deleted. As with all movies little bits here and there get trimmed from scenes but most of what he filmed was used for the whole saga. He was amazed when I told him the deleted Droid Control Ship sequence had been shown on the STARWARS.COM website, he had no idea.

On Episode III he split his time equally between Nute and Ki- Adi as both characters had fairly small amounts of screen time. Episode III is the film Silas enjoyed making the most as it was basically a three month paid vacation in Australia. The production kept extending his schedule yet didn't use him for any extra scenes. Another reason he enjoyed this film was that by this time they had created a brand new Nute Gunray mask which was more comfortable and reliable. For Episode III he recorded all his dialogue before filming and the tracks were used to programme the lip synch on the Gunray mask, making filming quicker and easier.

Although he hasn't been approached, Silas would love to be involved in either of the Star Wars TV shows. He has in fact done a lot of voice work for TV and recently has spent a lot of time voicing many different aliens on Doctor Who.

A sad end for Ki-Adi during the fatal ORDER 66 sequences of EPISODE III.

He enjoyed being part of the Star Wars universe very much, however he didn't particularly make any lasting friendships on the production. He has occasionally run into people at conventions but much of his filming experience was a fairly lonely one with large amounts of time in make up or hidden behind a mask.

He is currently working on a new British TV cop show called "Barclay" and last week auditioned for a part on Holby City, which, if he gets, will see him reunited with his old Episode I co-hort, Hugh Quarshie.

Silas is happy to do conventions and feels that when you do, you should always be positive and friendly to your fans. He disagrees very much with the actors that go to conventions and complain or moan about how they feel they were not treated right or not paid enough and the like.

I have to say that personally, Silas was one of the nicest actors I have ever met in the many years of convention going. He is up there with the likes of Jeremy Bulloch and Dermot Crowley-my other favourite signers.

Many thanks to Silas for being so pleasant to talk to and sharing his memories with me.

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