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Monday, 26 March 2012

ARCHIVE BLOG: 'STAR WARS' STARS AT THE COLLECTORMANIA 2008 EVENT (MILTON KEYNES)

Actor Jack McKenzie signing his ESB picture at COLLECTORMANIA. Image: Ian Trussler.

by Ian Trussler

The long running Collectormania events have a history of getting many Star Wars cast and crew to attend and do signings. The latest event in Milton Keynes over the May bank holiday weekend was no exception. This time round they had some of the usual suspects (Dave Prowse) along with some very rare convention attendees.

With a couple of people I had to meet attending for one day only, I duly made the trip north armed with questions, not just of my own but from Aficionado cohorts Scott Weller and Chris Baker as well.

What follows is a write up of the conversations and info gathered from the attending cast I had the pleasure of meeting.

Jasper Jacob as Imperial Shuttle Pilot Captain Yorr from RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Jasper Jacob - Captain Yorr - Shuttle Pilot - ROTJ

Jasper was very friendly and talkative- very happy to be doing the convention as he has done so few. He hasn't bothered doing shows in the past when offered because he felt that he had such a small role that nobody would be interested. How wrong can you be?

Jasper told me that he spent two days working on Jedi during March 1982. His scene was directed by Richard Marquand on both days, whom he said was extremely nice to him and very understanding. Jasper found it very difficult to memorise his dialogue and this lead to a large number of takes being done following his fluff ups. Jasper had more dialogue to learn than we see in the film as the scene was cut down in the finished movie. He confirmed that he did film the extended scene where he asked the Death Star controller to deactivate the shield as his passenger (Lord Vader) was getting impatient.

The other co-pilot in the scene, whom Jasper cannot recall his name, was not an actor but a male model who although British made his living from appearing every year in a series of adverts for Italian television, and was fluent in Italian.

Although only on the film for two days he spent some time with Mark Hamill who was filming at the same time. They spent some time together when Mark suggested Jasper share his car to and from the studio each day. He found Mark to be extremely warm and friendly and liked him a great deal.

Also while on the movie he ran into Gillian Gregory whom he already knew and was the choreographer on Jedi,  she worked on the scenes with dancers in Jabbas palace and the Ewok celebration at the films end.

The Hermi Odle monster in the ILM Creature Shop in late 1981.

Phillip Herbert - Hermi Odle - ROTJ

Someone I had wanted to meet for a while and had been a fan of since his days as Julian Clary's sidekick, the irrepressible Hugh Jelly, Phillip although perfectly pleasant seemed reluctant, to say the least, to talk about his experience on the film. He said he didn't do conventions much because he never gets asked but is always willing to attend when asked to. He said he'd love to go to Celebration Japan if someone would only invite him.

I did however manage to get some info from him regarding Jedi. He got the part via an audition workshop that had been set up by the Mine and Movement organization that he was involved with. They were looking for someone strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy costume. Before filming he had to attend for costume fittings and vaguely recalls meeting Stuart Freeborn. The costume was indeed very heavy and contained an internal camera and monitor so he could see where he was walking. When inside the costume of Hermi, Phillips head came to just below the chin of the creature meaning there was no other way for him to see except via the camera monitor.

Phillip worked on Jedi for four and a half weeks and remembers Richard Marquand well, saying that he was a very kind and caring director, especially to all the people in the creature costumes, appreciating the difficult time they were having. Marquand was very well liked by the crew for much the same reasons. Phillip also met George Lucas whom he also remembers as friendly and helpful to all the cast and crew.

Phillip is very pleased that an action figure has finally been made of his character, as he knows the fans have wanted it for a while and he now gets them in the post to sign.

Finally on a non Star Wars related topic, Phillip is still friends with Julian Clary and had only seen him last weekend, they plan to work together again and it's possible we haven't seen the last of Hugh Jelly.

Frank Henson as one of Jabba's scum and villainy on the Sail Barge for RETURN OF THE JEDI.

Frank Henson - Stuntman - Star Wars and ROTJ

Frank was very friendly and only too willing to chat and answer questions, although he was the first to admit his memory is not what is was now he is advancing in years.

He confirmed that he worked on the first movie as a stuntman and performed as one of many Stormtroopers. His memories of the first movie aren't great and he sadly could not recall much about it.Frank did not work on Empire but played numerous roles in Jedi. He confirmed that he played the human Skiff Guard that challenges Luke on the Sail Barge deck, he was the Biker Scout that Luke throws from the Speeder Bike, he spent many days filming against the bluescreen with Mark and Carrie for this sequence. Frank was also one of the Endor Rebels, the one standing behindHarrisons right shoulder when they are marched out the bunker. One part he said he definitely did not do was that of the Imperial Royal Guard, although he has signed pictures of this many times.

Frank was very honest and said that basically he will sign any picture put before him even it he didn't play the part. He was also one of many Stormtroopers in the Endor battle. Frank said he has no recollection of Lightning Bear working on Jedi and has been asked the question many times.

Frank had a wonderful photo album with him with some great behind the scene pictures from Jedi and his many other films. This album contained great shots of him with Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Harrison and many others. The cast and crew were not allowed to take cameras on set but a friend snuck one on and took some candid pics of him in costume as a Biker Scout and him with two other guys as Stormtroopers. He also has a nice pic of the full size Scout Walker prop on set.

He also notably did stunts on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, acting as stunt double for Amrish Puri (Mola Ram) of which he had a brilliant picture of them both on set, made up and looking like twins.

Frank really enjoyed working on the Star Wars movies and got on well with all the cast and crew he came into contact with.
Jack McKenzie brings bad news in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

Jack McKenzie - Lieutenant Cal Alder - TESB


Jack was also very friendly and chatty, saying he had never done a convention before, although he had been asked but had always been busy. He has recently been doing a musical on stage in Germany and enjoyed it very much. He has just auditioned for a major commercial which he is hoping to get the final decision on soon.

Although he only had a small part to play he does recall that he filmed an awful lot more than ended up on screen.

He spent four weeks on set, all on the Hoth Rebel Hanger set which he said was huge and amazing, doing a lot of running around with other Rebels for the battle/invasion sequence. He did have a fair bit more dialogue in this extra footage and is sorry it didn't make the cut.

He doesn't recall ever seeing George Lucas on set but meet the main cast whom were all very nice.

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