LONDON FILM AND COMIC CON-SAT 18TH AND SUN 19TH JULY 2009
STAR WARS GUESTS- BEHIND THE SCENES INFO
Compiled by Scott Weller and Ian Trussler
|Gary Kurtz makes an adjustment to a piece of Bacta sheet attached to Mark Hamill's cheek during an April 1979 filmed scene eventually deleted from THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Image: KURTZ/JOINER ARCHIVE.|
AFICIONADO is transferring over its archive of behind the scenes info onto the blog site. Here's the first-with lots more to come...
GARY KURTZ (PRODUCER-STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)
GARY KURTZ (PRODUCER-STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK)
In one of the original scripts for STAR WARS, the Imperials on the DEATH STAR monitored Luke, Leia and the gang inside the station as they were trying to make their escape. A small portion of a scene linked to that was partially filmed at ELSTREE in 1976 but never completed for reasons that it was considered over complicating the plot. The partially filmed scene was shot on the DEATH STAR War Room set, with Tarkin and Vader talking in front of it some computer graphic front projection material which was abandoned (an image seen in THE MAKING OF STAR WARS hardback edition book, page 180).
Right from the start of EMPIRE’s filming, Billy Dee Williams was contracted for two films to play Baron Lando Calrissian and was to have been a developing character- they (Kurtz and Lucas) knew they would be doing JEDI as well. The first sequel happened because FOX wanted one-STAR WARS, as has been previously documented, was originally conceived as a stand alone film.
For EMPIRE, the Second Unit stayed for three weeks after the main unit had finished at Finse to complete action scenes/pick ups, although there was one week where they weren’t able to film anything because the weather was too bad.
Prior to the EMPIRE Norway filming (considered the first official principal photography of the movie), there had been reference test footage filming at ELSTREE of sets, costumes, etc.
Unhappy with the face of the Wampa ice creature on location, they did test footage at ELSTREE of another look for the creature (one which saw it more alien, and bearing large insectoid eyes) and some test footage was shot. That facial look was abandoned as it just didn’t look right, in favour of a more organic, realistic looking creature. Later on, Kurtz was not a great fan of the new Wampa scene expanded in the EMPIRE SPECIAL EDITION.
The original KENNER twelve inch figure of Boba Fett was originally to have had far more operating functions and was to have had a remote control unit (a 1978 black and white image exists of Kurtz with the figure and using its remote control). Kurtz was also regularly involved in the decisions regarding the merchandise releases and what was selected.
Originally in the story ideas planned by Lucas and Kurtz for JEDI, Lando accompanied Han on a guerrilla mission against the Empire. In the subsequent battle, Han was killed and Lando, guilt ridden at his not being able to have saved him, left at the story’s end-deciding to set up another colony similar to Bespin. Kurtz knew that Harrison Ford had wanted to be killed off, and the idea of killing Solo off halfway through JEDI, after having been rescued earlier in the film was something that he felt would raise the story stakes for the audience, that they (Lucas and Kurtz) felt it would be a shocking but worthy demise for the character and that it would totally shock and surprise the audience. Carrie Fisher was ultimately disappointed that the original ending for her character in JEDI, as previously told to her by Kurtz-that she would end up being crowned the Queen of the last remnants of her Alderaanian people, didn’t happen in JEDI. And with Luke, well, he pretty much does a solitary figure/Clint Eastwood western-type ending and goes off into the sunset-the only person to appear in the never made EPISODES 7-9 (though there had been ideas to have selected characters previously from 4-6 appear in cameos through the films). Darth Vader would not have died in the original REVENGE OF THE JEDI and the storyline/dynamic of his being Lukes’ father was to have continued in a form ultimately far different than what was to appear in the 1983 movie, and the Emperor was not to have been in the Saga until the ninth, finale, episode. None of the ideas conceived by Lucas/Kurtz for the original REVENGE OF THE JEDI were ever put down on paper as a proper storyline treatment. There were very few notes made for the Prequels when he and Lucas were working on EMPIRE-a few little notes about the Clone Wars and other bits but nothing substantial as far as Kurtz could recall.
The original negatives and masters for the three Classic Trilogy films are all at FOX in California, as, according to Kurtz, LUCASFILM doesn’t have the special storage facilities required to hold them. FOX owns the masters for STAR WARS but LUCASFILM own the masters for EMPIRE and JEDI.
According to Kurtz, the restoration of the STAR WARS TRILOGY SPECIAL EDITIONS for 1997 release saw lots of problems. EMPIRE and JEDI weren't so bad quality wise, but the original STAR WARS was the worse for wear. The full film master negative created for the movie (of which prints are then made (or “struck”) for cinema screenings), which was created from the original 1977 constructed camera negatives, was of poor stock and had deteriorated and was irreparably dirty from constant use for creating prints (of which Lucas/Kurtz were unaware at that time), which made the task of re-mastering the footage on the first film even more difficult, and requiring material used from twelve different varying quality Technicolour theatrical print copies of the film (many of which were also suffered numerous types of wear and tear from constant runs through theatre projectors over the seven years or more that the film was shown at the cinemas) to aid in the restoration. In some parts of the SPECIAL EDITION of STAR WARS some scenes are grainy because they apparently had to create new footage taken from a duplicate print of the original film material-hence the loss of quality- rather than from the master negative which had deteriorated.
It was Kurtz who helped push LUCASFILM for the release of the laserdisc transfers (sadly non-anamorphic) of the original unaltered films from 1977, 1980 and 1983-the only way to currently officially see them- onto release on DVD in 2006 as an extra alongside each revised SPECIAL EDITION.
Kurtz was able to appear at CELEBRATION IV in 2007 as he had business in the US and was able to make a surprise appearance for several panels. He quite enjoyed the event and is still very surprised at just how popular STAR WARS is and how it’s endured.
Kurtz has assisted J. W. Rinzler with the upcoming THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK book out next year, giving the author some detailed behind the scenes information and photo material from his own collection.
He is currently trying to get finance for his upcoming Russian soldier-themed World War II film.
PETER MAYHEW (CHEWBACCA THE WOOKIEE)
Two sets of Wookiee costumes and masks were created for each Original Trilogy movie. Sometimes there was a case of mix and match of mask and body suit depending on the day to day condition/cleanliness/preparation of the costumes.
At CELEBRATION EUROPE, esteemed British make-up artists Stuart and Kay Freeborn, in wheelchairs, attended the event and had a special picture taken with Australian Prequel make-up artists/creature creators Dave and Lou Elsey (who created a new Wookiee costume for Chewie in EPISODE THREE), with Peter in the middle of the group. Mayhew enjoyed seeing the Freeborn’s again after such a long time, and having the photo taken.
HUGH QUARSHIE (CAPTAIN PANAKA-STAR WARS EPISODE ONE)
Presumably only his second UK signing appearance, Hugh revealed that he didn’t appear in ATTACK OF THE CLONES because he didn’t want to come on to it without seeing a script beforehand, and LUCASFILM were adamant on his being ready to film on specific dates he, at that time, couldn’t yet confirm or commit to.
KENNY BAKER (ARTOO DETOO)
Lively as ever despite being in a wheelchair (of which Hugh Quarshie maneuvered him around the convention at one point), Baker revealed that, during the Tunisia 1976 filming of STAR WARS, he spent a day off from shooting in the company of Sir Alec Guinness and his wife Merula, traveling with them in their car to various travel sites. Baker was present when Merula had her artwork of a local area confiscated by a tribe of Bedouins (a family of about fifteen) who objected to her painting an image that they had deemed holy to them. This was the only day that Baker really got to know Sir Alec during the filming and said he was he was a lovely man.
Hilariously, at the events all too brief (perhaps mercifully brief, actually) and unprofessionally arranged STAR WARS guest talk, Kenny was asked if he ever actually farted within the droid costume at any time!!!-surely a question that would never get past the CELEBRATION convention management in the US, though Kenny did humorously respond with something I sadly didn’t hear as the dealer hall area enclosure around us was too loud!!
LISA LLOYD (HANDMAIDEN IN EPISODE ONE’S FINALE, AND JAKE’S MUM, TOO!!)
She played the part of one of Padme’s handmaidens in the yellow dresses at the end of the film (shot during last minute pick ups at LEAVESDEN) because they couldn’t get a lot of the original actresses, who played the Handmaidens from the original first part of shooting, back for the new filming. She fit one of the costumes, so she instantly joined the cast. We gather Nick Gillard also played one of the handmaidens, or “Standmaidens” as they were called, for similar reasons.
Jake Lloyd and his family enjoy London-it’s very much considered a second home to them what with all the filming they did here for EPISODE ONE. This was Lisa’s first UK signing.
SEBASTIAN DEWING (NUMEROUS BACKGROUND ROLES-EPISODE ONE)
Sebastian was at the Con signing pictures of himself in THE PHANTOM MENACE as a Blue Senate Guard but it was as another role that he spent most of his time on EPISODE ONE. He spent six week in June/July of 1997 filming at LEAVESDEN studios as a Battle Droid. As one of ten other guys he was dressed each day in a white jump suit and fitted with a head piece to resemble a Battle Droid and also to help the other actors with their eyeline.
A childhood fan of the saga, landing work on the first of the Prequels was a huge deal for Sebastian. At the time he had already done a fair amount of extra work on films but was starting to move more into production work, making his own short films.
He remembers the EPISODE ONE set being a very relaxed place and recalls mixing with the main stars, noting that Natalie Portman in particular was very laid back and friendly. Between takes he would often sit and watch the monitors playing back footage as George Lucas reviewed different takes.
After his original stint in 1997 he was surprised to be called back in August 1998 to film pick up shots at LEAVESDEN for two days. This time he filmed the role of the Senate Guard that escorts Senator Palpatine upon his arrival back on Naboo just prior to the end ceremony. He remembers the two days being extremely hot with the heat only being made worse by the very heavy Senate Guard helmet and heavy velvet cloak he spent all day in.
On screen, Sebastian actually appears alongside himself as on the set he was the only Guard, so ILM duplicated him and Palpatine is flanked by Sebastian and his duplicated self as he exits the Cruiser to greet Queen Amidala.
LFCC was only Sebastian’s second convention appearance and his first in his native UK. His first was in Japan, a couple of years back, where he appeared alongside his friend and fellow Battle Droid stand in, Tom Sanderson.
Since doing EPISODE ONE, Sebastian has done occasional film work, notably ALEXANDER with Oliver Stone, and the Paul Bettany/ Kirsten Dunst movie WIMBLEDON.These days he runs an Art School and still pursues his film production work.