Saturday, 20 April 2013


Death Star commanders Harry FIelder and Ron Conrad (right) watch Darth Vader interrogate Princess Leia in a scene from STAR WARS. Image: KURTZ/JOINER Archive.


Compiled by Ian Trussler

Gary Kurtz (Producer-STAR WARS and EMPIRE)

I spoke with Gary and asked him something I have been meaning to for ages about the character of the Grand Vizier, mentioned on Kenner’s Star Destroyer play set. Gary confirmed that the part was never cast for EMPIRE and therefore the scene never filmed. The scene would have appeared towards the very end of the film had it made the cut. Due to the success of SW, Kenner wanted a very early lead-in time to toy production and therefore had a very early script in 1978 to start gearing up for production, hence the reference to a character that was dropped well before principal photography ever took place.

I also asked him what his views were on Dave Prowse being barred by LFL from any future Official conventions. He actually did not know this info before I told him but commented that Dave has been very outspoken in the past and soured his relationship with LFL. However, he did think it was unfair regardless.

Mark Kirby (Rebel Trooper, Blockade Runner- STAR WARS) 

After getting the part via Central Casting, who were basically looking for men approx 6 feettall, he spent about a week filming scenes running around the lime Blockade Runner corridors. He felt that as he fit the costume, like many other background artists, that was why he got selected. During filming Mark lost the black visor part of his Rebel helmet and was amazed that no one picked up on it at the time of filming. This makes it fairly easy to pick him out from the group of Rebels. However some of his scenes are also with the black visor on.

Jerry Baker (Death Star Scanning Crew – STAR WARS) 

Jerry spent just 2 days on set filming the scene. He actually never got to know the name of the other guy who played his counterpart crew member. The other actor was not particularly sociable and left as soon as his filming was over each time and didn't mix. The box the two of them had to carry was actually very heavy and took them by surprise on the day and they really did struggle to carry it up the ramp. At the top of the Falcon’s ramp was just an empty shell of the Falcon prop but there were 2 Imperial Stormtroopers standing inside, out of sight from camera. Jerry is very proud to be a part of SW and enjoys meeting up with fellow cast members when doing conventions. When filming in 1976 it felt like a family and group of friends to him. He still regularly gets fan mail asking for signed photo's, even now at the age of 79.

Ron Conrad (Death Squad Commander- STAR WARS)

Ron got into film work via his brother who was a stuntman- he used to cover for his brother sometimes, actually pretending to be his brother as they looked so alike. He did occasionally get caught out. He worked for about 2 weeks on SW, playing the Death Squad Commander alongside Harry Fielder in the detention block/Leia interrogation scene. He has remained lifelong friends with Harry Fielder ever since filming. Ron said there was a small continuity error in his scene as the DSC, at the very end of the scene it isn't him as he was not available on the day they finished the scene, it was a Wednesday as he remembers. As well as the DSC, Ron also filmed scenes as an X-wing pilot in the cockpit mock up and appears in the medal ceremony as an X-wing pilot amongst the troops lining the Yavin Temple. He was 28 when he filmed SW, after the movie he stopped acting and moved into the role as props master and worked on both EMPIRE and JEDI in that capacity. He said that he also appears very briefly in JEDI as a DSC, as they used some existing footage taken from SW.

Annette Jones (Mosep alien- STAR WARS) 

Annette spent about 2 weeks working on SW and really enjoyed her time on set, making some lasting friendships, one of which was Barbara Frankland (Denham) whom she still sees today. She played the Mosep with the reddish hair without the top knot ponytail. The other Mosep (white hair) was also played by a woman. Her costume and mask used to take about 2 hours to put on, with the help of Stuart and Kay Freeborn whom she remembers fondly. She filmed scenes both inside the Cantina, of which she has a strong memory of being on set when an explosion effect went off next to her, and also on the Mos Eisley back streets set as Luke and co. approach Docking Bay 94. She still works regularly on movies and has worked on HARRY POTTER most recently.

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