How did you get involved in Star Wars? Can you tell how you got cast for example?
I was working with Anthony Daniels on Jackanory; a BBC childrens show and he rang both my partner and I and mentioned that he was playing a gold robot in a science fiction movie and asked if we wanted to meet the director. I said yes and went to meet George Lucas at Elstree and got the part of Greedo. Kate, my wife said that she didn’t want to dance in the Cantina. She was a ballet dancer, but had just started working as an actress.
You played Greedo in the famous Cantina scene. Can you tell something about how your scenes were filmed?
They were definitely the great scenes to be in as we had a real set to wander around and even when we were not filming it was great to watch all the other aliens in the side booths doing their thing! Everything was `on a wing and a prayer` and I do remember watching the crew and Kenny (Baker) having problems trying to film R2-D2 coming down a ramp into the Cantina.
How was the atmosphere on the set? How were the other crewmembers and actors for example?
The atmosphere was terrific although it was a very hot summer and stiflingly hot. The crew were the best in the world -which was why George had chosen the UK- and full of humour. As were the cast, particularly the small people, much banter and joking but very professional to overcome many problems of filming something so radically new!
George Lucas, who wasn’t the powerful man he is now, directed you. Did you have the feeling back then that he was to become as big as he is now?
Well George was very gentle and shy in many ways but again ferociously committed to the whole project with such confidence in the material. So, his method of direction very much relied on the support of the great people he had around but he was stoicly confident in his concept and really welded the whole project as only a good director can.
There’s been a lot of discussion about who shot first: Han or Greedo. In the original version Han shot first, in the new version it’s Greedo that shot first. What is in your opinion the best version?
I have the ‘Han Shot First’ T-shirt so there really is nothing more to be said !!
Besides you, Canadian actress Maria De Aragon played Greedo. She is in the scenes filmed in the USA, while you are in the scenes shot in the UK. Have you met her? And how do you feel about the fact that your character was played by two people?
I didn’t know for many years that anyone else had been involved with the Greedo scenes but when I was first invited to do conventions I met Maria -who was terrific- and we swapped stories about the costume, masks etcetera. In fact, we have done a couple of cons together when possible. It’s quite lucky that there were only two of us as several of the other masked characters had other people inside them from time to time! But of course the Jabba sequences with Declan Mulholland took much of my schedule and the famous ‘Han Shot First’ scene was really just rushed on a late friday. So George really needed much more Greedo material when he decided to use the Jabba puppet and not Declan the actor.
Can you tell which scenes in the movie feature you playing Greedo?
Yes most of them.
Over the years Greedo has become a popular character and has achieved a cult-status. How do you see Greedo?
The most inept assassin in the Universe, the Steve Buscemi of assassins with Steve Martin overtones.
You have attended conventions all over the world. Can you tell us something about the best/weirdest things you have experienced at these events?
One small signing in a shop in the States when Admiral Motti (Richard LeParmentier) and I were watching tumbleweed pass. A solitary man about 30 walked towards us with his hand over his face and the other hidden in his coat! Our agent at the time immediately thought that this guy had some seriously menacing objective and readied himself to take a bullet. Motti and I froze as he stood at our table and he produced from his coat a small card which read: `I have just been to my dentist and am numb with novocaine could you please sign a picture for me`. We both visibly breathed a huge sigh of relief and rather too quickly scribbled autographs. He was so overjoyed with his signatures that he couldn’t contain himself any longer and splurted out `Oh great great, thank you so much`. As the words formed his lips bubbled and a stream of blood and saliva projectiled all over the desks that Motti and I were sitting at! He exited without his pictures in abject humility at speed. We still have them…
It’s more than 30 years since you donned the Greedo costume. What is the best thing the Star Wars saga has ‘given’ you?
A great sense of humour and membership of a very exclusive club!
George Lucas announced a live-action Star Wars TV series. The setting of the series is between Episode III and IV; the period where Greedo is still alive. Any chances we’ll be seeing you as Greedo again?
Please tell George that I am available and waiting for his call! It would be fab!