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Monday, November 26, 2012

Nineteen Days As Boba Fett

More than just a 19 day wonder.

In The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, J. W. Rinzler records that Robert Watts, who served as a production supervisor on Star Wars, returned to serve as associate producer on the sequel.  The production was hit by all manner of setbacks and delays, including a fire at Elstree Studios in England that delayed Stanley Kubrick from finishing The Shining.  Faced with unavailable Studio facilities, and with location-work in Finse hit by the worst weather in a century, director Irvin Kershner, and the entire production staff of Lucasfilm, found themselves struggling to make up for lost time from the first day of principle photography.

One of the ways Robert helped the production save time was by calling on his half brother, Jeremy Bulloch.  “There was talk of this new character—not a big character, but a new one,” Bulloch said.  He arrived at the studio, not knowing what to expect, and was fitted into a costume.  Then he was pushed onto the set, where George Lucas walked up and told him, “You look fantastic.”  After speaking with the helmet-wearing Bulloch for a few minutes, Lucas told him, “As far as I’m concerned, you’re fine.”

Who is this masked man?
Bulloch had started working as an actor at age ten.  By the time he strapped on Boba Fett’s armor he was thirty-five, and had appeared on the stage, on TV, and in a few movies.  After working for nineteen days for Lucasfilm, Bulloch hung up his helmet, returned home, and resumed the actor’s life, waiting for someone to call with another potential role.  As he had worn a mask, and played such a small part, he had no reason to believe anything more would ever come from his work on The Empire Strikes Back.

But the movie proved enormously successful, and the masked bounty hunter intrigued fans.  They wondered how Boba Fett had acquired his unique armor.  They yearned to see him at his best, using all the weapons and gadgets that he didn’t get to use in Empire.  They imagined all the battles and adventures he had participated in.  He was certainly a smart character, capable of making his own way through a dangerous universe.  After all, Han Solo may have outsmarted the entire Imperial fleet, but Boba Fett guessed at Han’s ruse, and tracked the Millennium Falcon all the way to Cloud City.  (Han Solo didn’t even notice he was being followed!)  And so Jeremy Bulloch was asked to don the mask and armor for the following film, The Return of the Jedi.

"Let's find out."

Even though his face was covered, and even if another actor voiced his lines, Boba Fett remains the most recognized character that Bulloch ever portrayed.  Over thirty years after he first strapped on his armor, Jeremy Bulloch travels the world, appearing at all manner of Star Wars and Science Fiction conventions.  His website sports photographs of all the places he has visited, from his home country of England, to America and Canada, and other European countries such as Switzerland.  In return, he’s given back to fandom, even going so far as joining the 501st Legion, a network of fans that don Star Wars costumes to benefit charities. 

Jeremy Bulloch’s example reminds me that even your efforts go unrecognzied ninety-nine times out of a hundred, there’s still that one time you can make a real impact on others’ lives.  But of course, you won't know which one is the important one.  You have to do all one hundred, never knowing which of them will prove most important to others.  Life may never reward you with riches or fame.  But who knows all that you may accomplish, if you work hard, and do so with the intention of benefitting others?

Dragon Dave

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