Amanda Noar has worked extensively in film, TV and theatre, as an actress, dancer, singer and more recently as a producer, director and choreographer. At the age of 19 she was cast in Return of the Jedi and now, almost 40 years later, she is the producer/director of the North London musical theatre company Impact.
How did you get started in the acting business?
I always wanted to be a
performer for as long as I can remember. I originally wanted to be a ballerina
and so I auditioned and got into The Arts Educational School in Tring from the
age of eleven. There, I was also taught all different styles of dance, and had
voice and acting lessons too. This made me realize that I enjoyed all 3
disciplines of the business and wanted to explore theatre, TV and film.
My mum was also in the
business. She was a Tiller Girl, so that must be where I got my ambition from.
In the early 80’s you were one
of the youngest persons to get cast for Return of the Jedi? How did you
get that part?
I was working with the choreographer
Gillian Gregory on a show, Mack & Mabel at the Nottingham Playhouse,
and she asked me to audition for the part, as she was the choreographer
for that scene in the film. She knew I could dance and she thought I would
suit the costume.
Were you a fan before you got cast? Had you
seen the other two Star Wars movies? And what did you think of
I’d never seen either of
the films before and had no idea about their popularity, although at that
stage, they weren’t anywhere near as popular as they are now. I really wasn’t
aware of what I was getting involved in.
What do you recall of the shooting of your
scenes? I know it’s over 37 years ago, but anything you remember I’d like to
remember the set being extremely crowded, smoky and hot. There were runners
there with oxygen hair dryers giving air to any of the characters that were in masks,
but all in all it was an amazing experience. I didn’t know anybody on the set
apart from Gillian Gregory, the choreographer and Femi Taylor. We had been in a
play for the BBC a year or so before hand, called The Benefit,
but everybody was extremely friendly and helpful, from the
extras, main characters and everyone in the crew.
Can you tell any remarkable, unique, strange
or funny things that happened?
Well part of my job was
to squeeze Bib Fortuna’s flat balloons in his cloak, which had a tube attached
to other flat balloons in his head, so every time I squeezed them it made his
temples pulsate. I would say that this was pretty unique, strange and funny!!
Star Wars was the biggest movie of
all time and you were cast in a sequel. What did you tell your friends (and
classmates?) and how did they react to the fact you were in it?
At the time, it really was just
another job for me. However, later on in my career, I have come to realize what
a privilege it was to be on one of the most iconic sets and in one of the most
iconic movies of all times. My friends nowadays cant believe I was in it. It’s
a great talking point!
In the mid-nineties your
character finally got a name: Jess. When and how did you find out your
character got this name and how was your reaction?
I only found out relatively
recently when I received an email, asking if I would be interested in doing a
convention. I honestly thought it was a joke as I couldn’t believe anyone would
be interested in meeting me. What an eye opener that first convention was! It
was just a fantastic experience and the fans were amazing.
In 1990 you starred in I Bought
a Vampire Motorcycle with Anthony ‘C-3PO’ Daniels. Did that feel like a
small ‘Star Wars reunion’?
Anthony and I had the BEST time
working on I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle. We would literally giggle the
days away. He was so lovely and we got on like a house on fire. It was a real
moment when I told him that I was in Return Of The Jedi! He didn’t
remember me and I teased him about it for the entire shoot of the film!
You have been in the convention circuit. What
do you like the most about being a guest and what is the most remarkable or
craziest thing that happened at a show?
It’s fantastic to meet so many people who
are passionate about the films. It’s also great to catch up with old friends
from that time in my life. The most remarkable thing about these conventions is
the effort that the fans go to, with their most incredible costumes and robots.
I sometimes feel like one of the fans, wanting to have my pictures taken with
them. Honestly, I’ve had some amazing experiences at the conventions and
looking forward to getting back to doing more.
How do you look back at Star Wars and
in which way is it a part of your life today?
I really do have very fond memories of my time on the film and I’m
so delighted to have been given the opportunity to be involved. It has turned
out to be quite a big part of my life today. Going to conventions, sending off
pictures and generally being a part of the Star Wars family.
I read that the most fan mail you get is thanks to your Star
Wars part, even though you have done a whole lot more regarding TV, movies
and theatre over the last four decades. How do you feel about this?
Out of everything I have done in my long, LONG career, this is
definitely the one thing that seems to impress the most and generate the
most interest. The reaction from everyone once they find out I’ve been
in a Star Wars movie is amazing and I just feel grateful that people feel this way.
What do you regard as the
highlight of your career so far?
That’s quite a difficult
question because I have had such a varied career, both as a performer and now
as a director and producer.
As a performer on stage, a
highlight was playing Anita in West Side Story at Her Majesty’s Theatre
in the West End and being taken out for dinner by Leonard Bernstein.
Star Wars has to be a highlight too but
As a producer/director it has
to be a production I put on in 2019: Working – A Musical. It received
rave reviews and I was very proud of my cast and production team.