CELEBRATING FORTY GLORIOUS YEARS OF 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' AT STARWARS.COM

Sunday, 31 May 2020

EPISODE VII: CREATING REY!


Plagued with nerves at the start of her first scenes filming at Abu Dhabi, young star-to-be Daisy Ridley nonetheless went on to give a superb performance as the loner Rey on the desert world of Jakku, her character and acting skills blossoming under the strong directing talents and instincts of a nurturing J.J. Abrams, in this fine behind the scenes moment from The Force Awakens.

Daisy Ridley's first filmed scene as Rey for The Force Awakens.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

CLASSIC IMAGE:TO SEPARATE FROM LAVA!


The intense fighting between former friends now enemies Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi certainly takes in a variety of locations in and around the Separatists' former hideout on the fiery world of Mustafar. But such deadly conflict also brings a collision of outside forces, as protective outside deflector screens collapse and molten lava spray debris soon erupts onto the Jedi combatants, in this memorable moment from EPISODE III

The making of this part of the epic Nick Gillard coordinated fight sequence would be covered from all behind the scenes angles for EPISODE III's experimental feature-length DVD documentary, Within a Minute.

Friday, 29 May 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: CHEWBACCA RETURNS!

Preparing to distract the Imperial Probe Droid in the snowy wastelands of Hoth.

Still aiding the Rebel Alliance and their new friends after the destruction of the Death Star at Yavin, the ever-loyal Chewbacca the Wookiee also continues his life debt to the bold and reckless smuggler Han Solo as the unique pair escape the enemy blockaded ice planet of Hoth with an unhappy Princess Leia and irritating Threepio in tow, get caught in a seemingly endless space pursuit by Imperial forces, then find themselves betrayed by an old buddy at Cloud City. It is in that final locale that Chewie's loyalty, emotional strength and battle resolve are tested more than ever before against the evil plans hatched by Darth Vader towards his human 'brother' in Han.

Atop the Millennium Falcon making welding repairs as Chewbacca waits for Han Solo's return from patrol.

With Han and Leia in the Echo base command centre as new dangers loom.

Chewbacca continues with his repair work on the busy Rebel base.

Chewie and Luke prepare to go separate ways, as Luke gives the Wookiee a goodbye gesture previously seen in the Star Wars Holiday Special.

In the asteroid field cave, an armed Chewbacca surveys the area around the Falcon for pesky Mynock creatures.

Co-piloting the Falcon, with Threepio as awkward passenger

Chewbacca keeps his eyes open as Han meets Lando at Bespin's Cloud City.

Chewbacca begins his walkabout of Cloud City on Bespin.

Beginning repairs to the wrecked Threepio in a touching scene.

Chewie takes on Imperial Stormtroopers to protect his friends in a deleted moment/angle in the Carbon Freezing Chamber at Bespin.

Our captured heroes look towards the carbon frozen block that is now Han Solo.

Chewie begins to throttle Lando in revenge for Han's carbon prison.

Preparing to give escape covering fire as Bespin residents flee, in a deleted moment.

Trying to get the Hyperdrive once more back into action. Thankfully, smaller help is on the way...

With Lando Calrissian, on course to rescue Han from Jabba the Hutt.

Enjoying a busy 1977 worldwide promoting the original Star Wars, Peter Mayhew, who brought such life, humanity, spirit and humour to the role of Chewbacca, deservedly basked in the glowing spotlight of being in the then most successful film ever made, then returned to a more humble and rewarding lifestyle, to his previous other 'family' of work colleagues as a London hospital porter. When the full confirmation of the saga's sequel arrived by 1978, however, Mayhew's second encounter with the beloved Wookiee character at Elstree Studios and Norway was a certainty not to be missed...

Peter Mayhew and Carrie Fisher have fun during the 1977 publicity of Star Wars.

Behind the scenes during filming of Empire.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: HAN SOLO RETURNS!

Blaster at the ready- smuggler, scoundrel, fighter: Han Solo!

He'd overall enjoyed the fun and adventure of playing a space smuggler for his friend George Lucas at the far-away-from-America environs of Elstree Studios, London, during the long hot summer of 1976, but Harrison Ford, aware of the potential character limitations of Han Solo, was hoping his role and the film itself would be a quick spring board (finally!) to a more diverse career as an actor. Director and British James Bond filmmaking icon Guy Hamilton would see Ford's talent and charisma from early footage for Star Wars, and soon snapped him up for the World War II actioner Force 10 from Navarone, playing an ultimately similar in nature character to Solo in Lt.Colonel Barnsby. He'd then appear in another World War II drama/romance, Hanover Street, followed by  quirky fun with Gene Wilder in cowboy comedy The Frisco Kid, and make notable cameo appearances in Francis Ford Coppola's epic Apocalypse Now (playing Colonel Lucas no less!) and the Vietnam-related drama Heroes, opposite Henry ('The Fonz') Winkler. Sadly, bar Apocalypse Now, none of those films made a mark at the box office, though the diverse work had at least kept Ford reasonably happy.

Having shrewdly and deliberately not signed up to play Solo for the whole trilogy, taking his commitments to the saga on a film-by-film basis, Ford, quickly knew that a 1978 return to that galactic universe was necessary to re-establish (again!) his career, though asked for a beefed-up role (soon happy with the news that he was going to be the 'rapscallion of the universe'), and, more importantly, a beefed-up salary to go with it, one that was far better than any carpenter's work he could undertake in Hollywood. The improved salary negotiations took a little longer to achieve, and almost damaged Ford's relationship with George Lucas, allegedly (though the filmmaker always planned to remove Solo from the sequel story by its conclusion, just in case Ford didn't want to do a third film, anyway). Thankfully, things were ultimately worked out for all parties, with Ford not just getting his pay hike but also one for his co-stars in Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher.

The classic trio of heroes we loved in 1977 were back, and a universe of fans and filmgoers were eager to find out what would happen next with them...

With thanks to Chris Baker and Ian Trussler for selected images.


The reluctant Rebel in one of the Hoth base corridors.

Conferring with General Rieekan, and watched by a soon angry Leia.

They may be bickering but the best movie romances always start out that way!

Shutting up a droid! Han Solo is worried about his missing friend Luke Skywalker.

Out on the dangerous plains of the ice planet Hoth.

At last, finding Luke. But how to keep him alive?

'That's two you owe me, Junior!'

On the lookout for a 'visitor' on Hoth!

Han tries to speed up the repairs to the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca, as the Rebel base continues evacuation.

Rescuing Leia from a corridor avalanche.

Escape via the Millennium Falcon!

Han makes a necessary point!

Problems abound for our heroes once space borne.

Leia confirms her love of 'scoundrels'!

Danger within the asteroid 'cave'!

Arrived on Bespin to seek help from an old 'friend'.

Lando Calrissian and Han Solo forget the past.

What's next for Han and Leia after Bespin?

Solo aims at the worst dinner guest anyone could share a table with: Darth Vader!

Brutally tortured by Vader, but no questions asked!

A possible goodbye to Leia and Chewie in Bespin's Carbon Freezing Chamber.

Readied for a grim fate...

The pained visage of Han Solo- soon in the hands of Jabba the Hutt!

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

AN 'EMPIRE' AT 40: PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA RETURNS!


Though gobsmacked like everybody else with the incredible success of the original Star Wars, Carrie Fisher was already signed up to play the feisty Princess Leia Organa for an inevitable sequel/s. In between the craziness of publicity and sudden world recognisability that was 1977-1978, the young actress would, after resuming her role of Leia for the infamous beyond words The Star Wars Holiday Special of 1978, and before shooting on The Empire Strikes Back from March - August 1979, keep her feet on more earthly ground with notable TV appearances in the drama Come Back Little Sheba (working alongside Sir Lawrence Olivier), make a fun appearance in the comedy hit TV series Laverne and Shirley, and contribute to oddball movie comedies like Under the Rainbow and the soon cult hit The Blues Brothers.

With Empire, Fisher saw the role of Princess Leia Organa gain more depth, whose duties as a rebel leader, in the dark days following the Death Star's destruction, are further showcased on the ice planet of Hoth, alongside the deepening relationships she'd shared with her close friend Luke Skywalker, and her reluctant-at-first but soon lover in that 'scoundrel' space smuggler Han Solo...


Uh- oh, they're arguing again!

A lovely publicity image of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa.

The Princess is relieved to see the return of the injured Luke Skywalker.

At the receiving end of bad news from Han Solo on their mysterious 'visitor'

Briefing the pilots on the upcoming Rebel base evacuation.

Coordinating the escape in tense times, alongside the ever-loyal Threepio.

Escaping to the Falcon with Han Solo.

On board the Falcon, our heroes are under constant Imperial pursuit.

Giving in to her feelings for Han Solo in a now classic posed image.

And garnering further attentions from that 'old smoothy' Lando Calrissian as Bespin.

A lovely shot of a thoughtful Leia in her Bespin wardrobe.

Times are changing for the new lovers.

Preparing for a dinner with a twist on Cloud City.

Captured once more by Imperials in this publicity image.

Watching helplessly as her lover is to be put in Carbonite, in this rehearsal shot.

Dark days ahead.

The famous kiss and 'I know' moment.

Will Han survive the freezing process?

The frozen visage of Han Solo is cruelly revealed.

Used as bait to trap the newly arrived Luke Skywalker...

... but soon back in action alongside the faithful Chewbacca.

Fighting back as our heroes escape to the Falcon.

They've rescued the injured Luke, but even Leia knows the young Jedi will never be the same again after confronting Darth Vader.

The final moments of V, as our survivors, within a Medical Frigate, watch the departing Falcon heading to Tatooine.