Lucasfilm will announce on Monday that four men who played Boba Fett in "Star Wars" will appear together this July at the Star Wars Celebration in Messe Essen, Germany. The actors include Jeremy Bulloch (who played Fett in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi"), Dickey Beer (Bulloch's stunt double), John Morton (who subbed in as Fett for one scene during "Empire," but is better known as Luke's gunner, Dak) and Daniel Logan ("Attack of the Clones").
Boba Fett had just mere minutes of screen time during "Empire" and "Jedi" (he was later added to the original "Star Wars" during the 1997 Special Edition re-release), but he's still to this day one of the most popular characters of the "Star Wars" saga thanks to (A) his notoriety as a galactic bounty hunter and (B) one of the niftiest costumes in the history of cinema (designed by "Captain America: The First Avenger" director Joe Johnston).
In anticipation of the reunion, we spoke with the man who played Fett in The Original Trilogy, Jeremy Bulloch, to discuss some of the stories he has from working on "Empire" and "Jedi" (different stories than from the first time we spoke in 2010), his first reactions to wearing one of the most iconic costumes of all time, and why "The Empire Strikes Back" is his favorite "Star Wars" movie.
Of course, we also had to talk "Episode VII" hysteria. (Unfortunately, he can't get you a part in the new chapter.)
You're going to be appearing with all of the other Boba Fetts at Star Wars Celebration in Germany. I feel that there might be a little more anticipation for this particular Celebration after the Episode VII news.
I think you're absolutely right. It's funny, I suppose in the last six or seven weeks, I've been home with all of the grandchildren and the phone's been going all of the time. And all of the time I've been misquoted. "I just wanted to give you a call Mr. Bulloch, I want to talk to you about this." And I'm like, "What is it?" They say, "It's an interview about 'Episode VII.'" And I say, "We haven't quite got there yet." And then he just goes on misquoting what was said, which is bound to happen. I think it's very exciting this is happening again -- "Episode VII," whatever's going to happen, there's still a mystery. Still, the buzz is there. It's not gone away.
J.J. Abrams is notorious for being secretive. What do the people calling think you know?
I think it's a thing where they're the first people who maybe got something out of the actor. "I've got the right shoes to play Boba Fett," or whatever it is. That's it. They repeat themselves and I say, "Well, I did answer that not only three weeks ago." They're excited ... and all the actors are excited. I have friends of mine asking, "Can you get me in the new film?" I said, "No I can't. What's going on? I haven't a clue." It's not a secret! There's nothing to tell you.
I'd like for you to get me in the new film, too. Who wouldn't want that?
[Laughs] Well, give us $40 and we'll see what we can do.
That's quite a request from your friends.
When people ask me if I want to be in the new film, well, of course. Because I have such great memories. I mean, I've very lucky that I've had a career of 55 years.
The big announcement is that all of the people who have played Boba Fett will be at Celebration. Have you met them all before?
Yes, I have! People will say that there's an awful lot of Boba Fetts. I'll say, "Yes, there are, but there's really only one. It's the one at the beginning -- the first one. You can never forget that." Then I laugh, because some people think I'm taking it seriously. I mean, half of me is taking it seriously because there's never any better than the opening one. It will never change. But, then you giggle and laugh.
Do you ever have to correct people who bring up that Boba Fett is now in "A New Hope," which you didn't play -- in a, "No, he was added in the 1997 Special Edition to 'A New Hope.' I played him first in 1980 in 'The Empire Strikes Back,'" way?
That's a good question. A lot of people will ask, "What do you mean you didn't play him then?" I say, "Maybe I wasn't very good with dialogue. Maybe they thought, Well, we better not chance our luck here in case he can't speak." [Laughs] And I used to giggle sitting inside that mask. It made you laugh. When talking, there's a big boom coming back in your face and you can't understand what I'm saying. But the main thing of all of this is that I was extremely lucky to be part of the "Star Wars" saga, and it's very exciting that it's all happening again.
It's been brought to my attention that Lucasfilm is doing an elimination tournament with the "Star Wars" characters. Boba Fett is facing Dengar in the first round.
Apparently, yes. Sadly, he passed away. Morris Bush [who played Dengar] passed away. He was a lovely guy. He was an ex-boxer -- ex-boxers would work as extras as a tough guy. And they'd be standing there and smack someone in the face. If only he knew now. He'd say, "Good morning Jeremy, another tough day with my bandages wrapped around my face. Oh, never mind." He was such a sweet, gentle guy for a tough man. If he knew what was going on now, he'd be flabbergasted.
So, in that scene in "Empire" with all of the bounty hunters on the bridge: it's iconic now, but at the time were you looking at something like Zuckuss or IG-88 and thinking What are all these things?
No, actually, it's funny -- I mean, you try and lock on to something in the character. If you get a really decent-looking costume, that helps you a great deal. I mean, I used to just stare ahead. I wouldn't bother to look at the other people because Boba Fett wouldn't do that. He'd just stand and be listening to Darth Vader. And once Darth Vader has said the right stuff, then he'll do his job.
It's funny this year, suddenly, I've been asked again, "Can you find the people who played Zuckuss and Dengar." And I say, "Well, Dengar has passed away, but..." In England they're trying to get all the people together, or someone else dressed as it, because there's a lot missing there -- that, "No one knew about the bounty hunters and there should be more." So, I've been asked to try and find some of them; they're doing a special picture of all of the bounty hunters. It will be very difficult for IG-88 to write his name down.
Comparing "Empire" and "Jedi," I'm under the impression that George Lucas wasn't on set much during "Empire" but was around quite a bit for "Jedi." Is this accurate?
Yes, I think you're right, Mike. I have to think, my memory is pretty good, but I think you're absolutely spot on there.
Did you ever take direction yourself from Lucas in "Return of the Jedi"? Or just Richard Marquand?
Well, I did in "Revenge of the Sith" when I did that. People ask, "What was it like going back?" and I'm like, "Nothing has changed." It was just a small piece that I had to do as Captain Colton, the pilot of this spaceship. Just this tiny bit. And I remember saying to George Lucas, "I'm sorry to say this." And he said, "What?" I said, "It's just like coming back after several years. The atmosphere is the same, even though there weren't many people on set. It just brought you back with terrific memories. And I remember him saying, "Oh, thank you."
Do you prefer "The Empire Strikes Back" or "Return of the Jedi"?
I think "Empire" was special. People say, "Why do you think 'Empire' is better than the others?" And I say, "Because I'm in it."
But you're in "Return of the Jedi," too.
Yeah, I'm in "Return of the Jedi." But, it's funny. With "Return of the Jedi," I always had a great ending for that. You have all the Ewoks dancing in the forrest and all of the music and they're all dancing away and everything's fine. And suddenly the camera pans and focuses on the forest and the twigs and leaves and things. Then, there, you see Boba Fett's helmet. And that will be the end of that episode -- so you've got something to look forward to.
Last time we spoke you stated that, in real life, the Boba Fett costume wouldn't be too conducive to actual bounty hunting. But what were your thoughts when you first saw it? Did Joe Johnston present it to you?
No, it was done by wardrobe. Gary Kurtz came into the dressing room, briefly, and he was telling me how to put the costume on. It was sort of awkward, but it fit very well. And I thought it was really amazing. I thought, What are these banners in my pocket? And this jet pack, what is that? And all the red lighting, LEDs, coming up on my chest? There was so much, it took me several days to know what was what. So, Boba Fett wouldn't have been very good if he was called on to attack somebody.
If nothing else, the suit just looks really cool.
Oh, the suit, this is the luck you have. You could put a costume on, walk onto the set, people would look up, then carry on with what they're doing. And I remember the very first day going to meet George Lucas, fully dressed, and I was told what this was -- I had made a mistake with the Wookiee scalp; I thought it was my own hair and I tucked it under my helmet. I was soon told, "No, that doesn't go there." But, when I walked onto the set, they were doing the Wampa scene when he scratches Mark Hamill's face ... then, suddenly, I could feel people looking at me. I was behind the mask and I walked toward George Lucas and everybody's head was just turning. And that's the first time I thought, There's something about this character, there's something about the part -- it's not very big -- I'll do the best I can. There's something here. It's a terrific costume, but there's something definitely here.
Could you see?
I couldn't see very well. The one thing with this, I thought, You can't complain and say, "Oh, it's terrible, my ankle hurts." None of that. When it was really hot -- and it was baking hot -- in an uncomfortable costume, you just walked onto the set and I used to stand and not move, at all. So, you were, in a way, an object to be placed somewhere -- but he has his own personality and he can do anything. And that's what I used to say to myself, "Jeremy, you can do anything ... the costume speaks hundreds and hundreds for people when they are going to look at him. There is Boba Fett. Just do your best by doing virtually nothing."
I've always wondered this. In "The Empire Strikes Back" when Boba Fett and some guards are escorting a frozen Han Solo through Bespin, the carbonite block just kind of floats along. It's so smooth and this is before CGI, how was that done?
Well, it was done with wire on four corners. So it was going around; we were sort of just holding it, not pushing it. And it was going around the corner and I, of course, I was ready to come rushing around and fire at Mark Hamill. It was just going around the corner on these pieces of wire on a track -- and, of course, they painted those out later. But, it was, you're absolutely right, it was lovely and smooth. The two Bespin guards were just pushing it and it just looked very good.
Are you familiar with J.J. Abrams' work? Have you seen "Star Trek"?
Yes, very good. He's a good director. There's a feeling about that and, yes, he's a good director. And I think he'd work well with actors, and I think that's one of the most important things. You know, if you're having a long day -- and I'm going back to a well-known person in black and white television -- there was a directer, who I remember from the first day, and he was quite frightening because he'd shout and scream at you. Well, you're not going to get anything with people shouting and screaming.
Were you as surprised as the rest of us when Disney bought Lucasfilm and "Episode VII" was announced?
I mean, I was shocked as many people. I thought, Well, they're having a bit of laugh here. That's not going to happen. Then I started to think, Well, they have all of these wonderful 'Star Wars' weekends -- I've been very lucky to have been invited to many -- and it's just grown from there. But, now, there are these rumors. There are lots of rumors and I think, Well, that's not going to happen, Then, suddenly, something comes out and I'm like, Yeah, I'm sure that could happen. I mean, I don't know myself -- I'd be the last person to know what's going on, but, now that we know, I think it's very exciting for the future.
Mike Ryan is senior writer for Huffington Post Entertainment. You can contact him directly on Twitter.