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Sunday, 28 April 2013

CLASSIC BLOG 2007: ADRIAN DUNBAR - THE FORGOTTEN BAIL ORGANA

AFICIONADO contributor Ian Trussler with actor Adrian Dunbar.

By Ian Trussler


Before Attack of the Clones and Jimmy Smits, there was another Bail Organa, played by respected Irish actor Adrian Dunbar.

Dunbar was one of the very first people announced as a cast member for Star Wars: Episode One in very early 1997.  With the film shooting primarily in the UK it was no surprise to see this stalwart of British TV, film and theatre listed in the early press releases.

In August 2007 I was lucky enough to meet and talk with Adrian while he was appearing on stage at London’s Comedy Theatre.

He kindly took time to share his memories of his brief period as Bail Organa, and the subsequent disappointment that followed.

Adrian told me he did not audition for the part but had received a telephone call from George Lucas asking him if he wanted the role. George had seen some of his work, most notably the critically acclaimed and commercially successful (at least in EuropeHear My Song and offered him the part of Bail based on having liked what he had seen. Lucas explained that the role was very small for this first movie but would be an expanded part in subsequent films. Adrianaccepted Bail primarily on the promise of a larger part in the future episodes.

Lucas had clearly considered other actors for the role, too, as Ray Winstone (a friend and co-star of Dunbar’s) has spoken in the past of a very unsuccessful meeting he had with Lucas for the very same part.

According to the Production Diary/Shooting Schedule for The Phantom MenaceAdrian filmed his scene on Day 3 of Principal Photography on Monday June 30th 2007, on Stage B at LEAVESDEN Studios.

The scene was listed as: Galactic Senate - Alderaan Box - Bail Organa seconds the motion.

Adrian told me that when he accepted and later filmed his part it was known as Bail Organa and it was changed later in production to Bail Antillies, presumably after Lucas had decided to cut the scene.

Adrian said that when filming he performed with only one other actor, that being Ian McDiarmid and he didn't get to work with any other cast.

When I showed him a picture of him in costume as Bail Organa he commented on how rare pictures of him as the character are and that he very much liked the costume, recalling it to be very ornate, an almost naval like white outfit with elaborate gold braiding detail.

The picture in question, a head and shoulders shot, is to my knowledge the only picture ever published of Dunbar in the role, coming from the Episode One annual and in the small US pocketbookWho’s Who guide, which presumably went to press and were approved by LUCASFILM before the role was cut.

Adrian said he found out his part had been cut from the movie when George Lucas personally phoned him and apologized. Lucas explained to him that he felt he was making a mistake to introduce Bail this early and that he shouldn't appear until the Clone Wars started. At the time Adrian was upset about being cut from the movie and then losing the role in the subsequent films but is philosophical about it now. He commented that this was the only time he had been totally cut out of a movie, it had never happened before and had not happened since (up to time of our conversation).

Although Dunbar is undoubtedly a talented actor I personally feel he didn't quite fit the role as I had imagined it. The tall and dark Jimmy Smits seems a better match for what my mind told me the adopted father of Princess Leia would look like.

That said I would dearly love to one day see the footage of Dunbar as Bail Organa/Antillies from Episode One to finally make that judgment. However since Jimmy Smits went on to establish the part, it seems highly unlikely LUCASFILM will ever release the footage.

Adrian was a very pleasant and friendly guy and I very much enjoyed chatting with him.


Ian Trussler


Above image: Adrian and I have a picture taken outside The Comedy TheatrePanton StreetLondon-August 11th 2007. Insert pic: the only shot currently released by LUCASFILM of Adrian Dunbar in character for EPISODE ONE. With thanks to Chris Baker for the image composition.

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