Moment that mattered: Disney buys Lucasfilm for $4.05bn
What Star Wars needs is a good kick up the pants. Disney is the place to do that – they have the imagination and they have the money. Plus, the pressure is off – expectations are pretty low after the prequels, so they can exceed them.
You can go to Iceland, or South America or Japan and mention Star Wars and the look of excitement is the same.
I think people are so devoted to the original trilogy because they are wonderful heroic stories and those sorts of stories last. From Norse legends and Roman mythology to Tolkien, George Lucas unashamedly stole from the lot and rightly so – that’s how you make a great story.
Still, it is remarkable how obsessive the fans are. The film was 40 years ago, I can hardly remember what I did four weeks ago, let alone four decades, but the fans know – they’ll argue with you about exactly when you went to the toilet on March 22nd, 1977. Still it’s rather brilliant how dedicated they are and how they come from all walks of life: I’ve been to suppers with everyone from dustmen and hospital cleaners to high court judges, all of them dressed as Wookies.
I got the role of Greedo [an intergalactic bounty hunter] in the first film by doing ‘Jackanory’ with Tony Daniels, who played C3P0. He said they were looking for character actors and would I be interested in a meeting. I said yes – I’ll do anything for a pint.
The next morning I arrived at this huge soundstage and there was nobody there. I found one bloke in the corner sat
in a sandpit with a model spaceship – which I later learned was the Millennium Falcon. I said ‘I’m here to see Jeffrey Lucas, any chance you can tell him I’m here?’ I said. ‘Oh and I’m desperate for a coffee…’ So away he went and returned with a coffee and said ‘Well, I’m George Lucas…’ and that’s how I got the job. I was lucky he didn’t have me marched off the premises.
I’m sure Disney will create a Star Wars World, like Disneyland – that would be great. There used to be a perfect recreation of the Mos Eisley Cantina [where Greedo is killed by Han Solo] in Japan. I remember sitting there with David Prowse [Darth Vader] and Jeremy Bulloch [Boba Fett] drinking these blood-red cocktails and not for the first time I was glad I got to be Greedo.
The question I get asked the most after the new versions is ‘who shot first?’ [the re-mastered edition had Greedo shooting first and Han Solo killing him in self-defence: many fans argue that Han shot first]. I can tell you this: if I had shot first I would have killed Solo, then I would have run off with Princess Leia, I would have defeated Darth Vader and the whole franchise would have been Greedo’s – what a missed opportunity that was. I could have been Indiana Jones. The truth is Harrison was threatened by me – he was desperate to get a mask on me because I was far better looking than him…
Hopefully Disney will take the sort of risks George did on the originals and bring in new people with interesting ideas rather than slavishly following what they think the fans want. Either way, I hope there’s a role for me.
Paul Blake participates in Q&A sessions for the charity Exe Wing, for details see www.exewing.co.uk
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