IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jeremy Bulloch Talks 'Star Wars: The Complete Saga' on Blu-Ray and the legacy of Boba Fett

Thursday, 15 September 2011 12:59 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jeremy Bulloch Talks 'Star Wars: The Complete Saga' on Blu-Ray and the legacy of Boba Fett

In my short time here as managing editor of IAR, I’ve had the immense pleasure of interviewing several legendary directors and Oscar winning actors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, Nicolas Cage, Tom Hanks, and Julia Roberts. But none of them can hold a candle to the childlike excitement I got from talking to Boba Fett!

English actor Jeremy Bulloch is best known to millions of Star Wars fans as the man beneath the helmet and costume of the extremely popular intergalactic bounty hunter known as Boba Fett. While Bulloch didn’t actually voice the character, the audio was originally provided by Jason Wingreen and in the updated versions by Temuera Morrison, he is still beloved to this day by fans for his menacing performance. Bulloch first appeared in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and then saw his character fall to his untimely death in Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, but the actor would later appear as Captain Colton in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. While the mystery surrounding Boba Fett is part of what made him so adored by fans, some of that mystique was rubbed off in the prequels, when it was revealed that Fett is actually a clone of his adopted father Jango Fett, the man who’s likeness created the Stormtroopers.

In honor of tomorrow’s highly anticipated release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, I recently had the privilege of speaking with legendary Star Wars actor Jeremy Bulloch. He spoke candidly with me about working on the original series, the updates that George Lucas has made to the films, collaborating on the set with director Irvin Kershner, his character’s sudden death, and the legacy of Boba Fett. Here is what he had to say:

To begin with, will all due respect, George Lucas has made several changes to the three original Star Wars films over the years, first on DVD and now for their upcoming Blu-ray release. There has been a lot of controversy in the fan community about that; how do you feel personally about Mr. Lucas’ changes to the original films and how do you think it’s affected the legacy of the Star Wars franchise?

Jeremy Bulloch: Well looking at it, and people have asked me this question before some years ago why did he have to do this, why did he have to do that? But some of the things George Lucas did to change the films were positive; like in the interior you can actually open the doors and the windows of Cloud City. I think that worked really well and there's lots of other things that work and there are some things that don’t. But then here's the great thing about Star Wars is that you have something to discuss. You know people will say, "Yeah it was a great film," and then that's the end of the conversation. People said, "He shouldn't have done it, you shouldn't have gone into the Sarlacc Pit. I'm going to write to George and get you back out so you don’t die.” It's ridiculous because you're ruining the film. I mean that's when I meet people, fans, and they're furious about me heading down into the Sarlacc Pit. That's good ammunition for me, but basically people go on and on and on. But that's what makes the good films great because you got a talking point for years to come.

So you don’t share the opinion of some fans that Lucas’ altering of the original movies has ruined the continuity or possibly diminished the legacy of the franchise?

Bulloch: There are actually a lot of people who say, "Oh he shouldn't have done this, or he shouldn't have done that." But then a few months later they come back and say, "Well actually that does work, that little bit, the way he's changed that." He's added a little bit and some people like it and some people don't. But if everybody dislikes it then we wouldn't have the following we have now with the film.

There is an old Hollywood legend that when George Lucas was writing the original script for the first film, he actually wrote the entire series as one big story but then cut it into six parts and decided to begin with the second half of the larger tale. If that were true, he would have known the history of your character when you were filming The Empire Strikes Back. Did he tell you anything about Boba Fett’s actual past or did you just make that up for yourself, and were you surprised when you finally saw the prequels and found out that you are actually a clone and your dad was killed by Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu)?

Bulloch: It's funny how I suddenly found out that I was a clone. I thought that really I was a super clone. You know one of the best of the top ranked, like a shock trooper. But all those years ago, I was telling people that actually Boba Fett is a human being, six feet tall, and athletic, which I was then. And very strongly determined, knowing exactly what he wants to do. I think somewhere along the line he had an affiliation with Han Solo, they probably flew the Millennium Falcon together and then there was a bit of a falling out. So he went on to, not the dark side, but he'll take money off anybody. Han Solo does it too, but he does it in a much better way than I do. So he's not called a bad guy, but a badass. If the two of them, Han Solo and Boba Fett, flew the Millennium Falcon around space, they'd be quite some gang together.

So you really saw your character as the flipside of the Han Solo coin?

Bulloch: Yes.

It dawns on me that as an actor you have a very interesting perspective on the Star Wars series, in that the two films that you were involved with were really the two films from the series that George Lucas was least involved in. Could you talk a little bit about what exactly his involvement was on Empire and Jedi, and then of course what it was like for you as an actor working with the great Irvin Kershner?

Bulloch: Yes, I was working at the time with Irvin Kershner, who's a wonderful director and who sadly passed away last year. He was great fun. It's funny with directors. Some directors can shout at you, which I don't think gets you anywhere. "C'mon, c’mon, c'mon! We're losing light, get on with it!" You have all that and you just have to say, yes okay let's get on with it. Then people are very calm. But with Irvin Kershner directing he likes to walk through, or he did, liked to walk through and show you what he'd like you to do. When you've done that walkthrough, you go back to the beginning. I would turn to him and say, you mean like this? Then he walked down the corridor and did something slightly different than what he asked me to do before. Then he would turn around and say; that's just what I want. So you still always put something of yourself in, although the director wants you to do this move you always have to put your own little piece in before shooting.

I understand that Kershner was a very giving director and allowed the actors to add their own ideas on the set, is that correct?

Bulloch: Yeah, there's always a piece of the bit that you put in, and you say in maybe a different light. But with me, because I had so few lines, that didn't involve me. Mine was being involved with the way I walked, the way I stood, and the gun that I had, which I use to hold and cradle. People say, “I loved the way you held that gun and cradled it.” I said, well it was so heavy I had to do something. And lots of little bits I put in came off of stuff that Irvin Kershner put in, and then we’d come to an agreement. I think I was of the age … I was about thirty-one, where you're not frightened because a lot of actors are frightened to make a suggestion. You know if I were seventeen and said, “Oh I don't want to say that I want to do this.” They might have said, “Well he’s a cheeky young lad.” But if you're an experienced actor, you should always try and say, “Can I just do that once more?” It may be wasting time, but if you don't feel absolutely right in one area, you should always speak up and say, “Can I just do that once more?” It may not work, the director's first shot is probably the best, but every now and then you do it and think, I'm glad they asked me to do it again because I think that was absolutely right. So that's the way the filming is.

What do you remember most about shooting the Cloud City scene in The Empire Strikes Back?

Bulloch: One of the funniest things is being asked to do two parts in a day. Playing an Imperial officer and then firing my blaster at Mark Hamill. They were long hours some times that we were doing and being on the sound stage as well for two of the weeks, it was nonstop. I didn't want to make a mistake because I knew that this must have been costing a lot of money. I'd fire the gun and they'd have to remodel the hole that it blasts away, and everything has to be done in a precise way. So there's an awful lot that you do and you think, oh I hope I don't muck up. I'm not a nervous person, but before the shooting I thought, please just do it properly. I always talk to myself before going on stage. I say, “Come on now and do it properly, we have a good house in, a lot of people, and they'll laugh as long as you deliver the lines correctly.” So you still have that concern that you've got to do it right.

You mentioned Boba Fett's death scene, is that actually your scream that we hear and how do you feel now, all these years later, about the manner in which your character was killed off?

Bulloch: No, it's not my scream. People always say, “How many lines did you have.” And I say, well I've got four lines and the scream. You must not forget the scream. But no, that's not my scream. I think it's sad the way he was taken out and I don't mind saying so. I think the way he went out was pretty poor. But that in a way is quite a good thing because it makes the character more popular. You had kids in the cinema screenings saying, “No! What have you done? Boba Fett's gone! Come on, bring him back!" But there was always that chance that maybe he'd come back if they did another film. Sometimes that's a clever thing to do, if you know he's going to be popular. Just get rid of him, that way you'll have everybody saying, “No you shouldn't have done that.” Then there's a forum where people are talking about. So for me it was a little sad, a little early to go, but you know as we say … that's showbiz!

Finally, in my opinion Boba Fett is one of the top three most popular characters in the entire series, right behind Darth Vader and Yoda, so do you think his unexpected demise has added to the legacy and folklore of the character?

Bulloch: I think you're absolutely right. I think by that, if he hadn't been pushed into the Sarlacc Pit there might have been a couple of other scenes later on and they may not have worked. If there was another scene and it wasn’t that good, the audience would have said, “Well he was a bit dangerous a few minutes ago, but he's looking different now. It’s not how I thought he was going to turn out.” So in a way he's gone, gone into the pit. That's it, finished. He doesn't get out. But I think he's gone into the pit, and there's a legacy there, there's an iconic character forever. In a way it was quite clever to put him in that pit.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga is available on Blu-ray beginning September 16th.

To enter to win a free copy of Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, please click here

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