Saturday, 30 March 2013


A costume design interpretation of Chewie by John Mollo for EMPIRE.


Compiled by Scott Weller (with thanks to Ian Trussler for additional info)

John Mollo started his work as Costume Designer on STAR WARS in December 1975 and finished in May 1976. Of the two films he worked on, EMPIRE was the hardest for him, due to the challenge of having to top the first film and also due to the fact that George Lucas wasn't around for a lot of the crucial costuming decisions-Mollo had greatly enjoyed working with Lucas on STAR WARS and the relationship wasn't the same with Irvin Kershner on EMPIRE.

British Darth Vader mask sculptor Brian Muir remembers being involved in the detailing and construction of Threepio's hands for one scene, recalling Anthony Daniels coming into the ELSTREE workshop one lunch time during filming so that moulds could be done of the actor’s hands for the creation of the metal ones.

Mark Hamill revealed that both he and Harrison Ford were very protective of he characters they played during the making of the films. On EMPIRE, Harrison wasn't happy with the news that the Millennium Falcon had previously been owned by somebody else.

Robert Watts recalled that the huge stage at Shepperton Studios for the Award Ceremony and X-wing hangar had previously been used for the epic early British sci-fi movie THINGS TO COME.

Joe Viskocil's favourite explosion amongst the many that he created for the first film is the destruction of the last TIE fighter during the sentry ships attack on the FALCON. Viskocil would also work on the pyrotechnic explosion scenes of the Walkers for EMPIRE. Re-confirming what Julian Glover had previously indicated, the ramming of Hobbie's Snowspeeder into Veer's Walker was never filmed (2012 Note: Though an insert shot of the Walker command deck interior was indeed filmed without his prior knowledge- presumably with doubles-as seen on the 2011 Blu-ray). Only the explosion for the head of the Walker, which became another Imperial Walker destroyed by Luke Skywalker, rather than Veers, was shot by Viskocil at ILM.

Michael Culver's scenes as Captain Needa were filmed in a week:just another part for the jobbing actor.

Angus MacInnes, Gold Leader in STAR WARS, confirmed that all his scenes shot for the movie were in the finished picture-there was nothing cut. On WITNESS he actually performed the dangerous stunt in which Harrison Ford traps his corrupt cop character in the grain tank-having pretty much been told that he no other choice but to do it by the director/production people!!

John Scoleri and his people behind the beautiful Ralph McQuarrie book are now in negotiations to do something linked to Joe Johnston's work for ILM. (As of 2013, still no news on this worthy and deserving project.)

Warwick Davis revealed that, when he was cast as the then un-named Wicket, all the Ewoks had already been found for the London ELSTREE studios filming and that they had not planned on having any others. Patricia Carr, assistant to Robert Watts (who can be seen in the REVENGE OF THE EWOK film), however, saw talent in Warwick and hired him.

Though J.W. Rinzler is not aware of any good archive material within LUCASFILM on the creation of the Darth Vader costume in 1976 (from a conversation AFICIONADO had with him at CELEBRATION IV), documentary film footage DOES exists, previously used in a SKY TV 1999 UK documentary on STAR WARS, of the face and half body casts of Dave Prowse with the costume being worked around them. Vader sculptor Brian Muir, and his enthusiastic wife, re-confirmed that this footage still exists. Due to some incorrect/lack of information in the recently published MAKING OF STAR WARS book, a retraction regarding Brian Muir's work will appear in any future re-print/new editions of the book. (Something that never happened with the books paperback reprint.)

For the scene in STAR WARS, shot in Tunisia, where Artoo follows Threepio into the Lars Homestead igloo, it was originally filmed that Artoo would follow behind Threepio, but when the robot controlled droid constantly kept ramming into Anthony Daniels posterior whilst in costume, the scene was eventually filmed with Threepio side by side with the little droid as they came to the end of the location exterior set. 

Jay Laga’aia revealed that, for EPISODE III, Lucas was apparently quite insistent that he be available for filming on certain dates but this proved difficult for the actor due to his stage commitments to THE LION KING musical that he was also in at the time in Australia. Eventually, a compromise was reached but by the time of the film’s release, pretty much all of his footage shot for the movie never made the final cut!

By the way, did anyone speak to David Ankrum, the original voice of Wedge for STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE? Anyone got any info on him?

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