Admiral Motti (A New Hope)
Interview: August 2010
How did you get started in the movie business?
I was singled out at school as someone who should pursue acting professionally. I went to University majoring in theatre.
How did you get cast for A New Hope?
I did a video audition in LA for what my agent called a Space Western.
Nine months later I was back in the UK and I was offered a one line role which I turned down.
A friend took the part, but he was sent home at lunch when they cut scene.
A month later I was offered Admiral Motti, which was obviously a great role. It’s the first time the audience sees the Dark Side of the Force. I said yes a minute after I read the script.
Your best known scene is the one where Darth Vader chokes you. How did you create the effect with your neck?
Some people can wiggle their ears. I can do that with my neck. I suggested it to George and he loved the idea. As the scene has been voted the most memorable Darth Vader moment and is the most parodied scene from the film, I seem to have attained a strange kind of recognition.
Can you share some memories the filming of your scenes as Admiral Motti?
It was very hot. We did the conference room scene with out boots off and my pants were rolled up to my knees.
Don Henderson did the same. Peter Cushing took his boots off after the first day. The conference room scene took four days to film.
The film was over budget buy then and things were serious.
One of your co-stars was the legendary Peter Cushing. Did you learn valuable things from him?
He had a remarkable stillness. He also slightly looked away from you during a scene, then he would make eye contact – that could be devastating. He did it to Carrie with great effect.
How did George Lucas direct you? What impression did he make on you?
He always said he casts well. He let everything get on with it. He used ideas, like my neck and I did mention I should do a mid-Atlantic accent as the other speak roles were British. He had the grand vision and always knew what he wanted.
What did you think of Star Wars when you got the part and during filming? Did you ever expect that it would become such a success?
It slotted in between two TV roles I was doing. I knew it would be a hit when I read the script, but no one could foresee that it would become a major cultural movement.
Star Wars was one of your first movies. How and in which way has Star Wars affected the rest of your career?
It’s not helped me get other roles, it might have in the States. It is the most memorable film I’ve been in and I’ve been in some big movies.
What do you regard as the highlight of your career?
The first time a script of mine was filmed, watching it come to life. then watching Star Wars for the first is the close second.
You have attended various fan conventions over the world. Do you like attending them and interact with the fans?
I do, I love the fans and I love meeting them but I’m going to scale back on conventions in the near future and do the ones I really want to.
What are you up to right now? And do you have new projects coming up?
I’m developing a television project, a comedy- drama that would be great fun if we can get it off the ground.
Last question: If there is anything you want to say to the readers here’s your chance!
Just a thank you for your love of the films and being great fans.