Paul Markham (Imperial Officer)

Paul Markham
Imperial Officer (Return of the Jedi)
Interview: October 2012

How did you get started in the movie business?

I was with an agency, central casting. I joined them in 1980.

Can you tell how you got cast for Star Wars: Return of the Jedi? And how did you get your part assigned?

I was picked from the agency to go on audition. There they decided who should wear what. I didn’t got a Stormtrooper outfit which was very warm so I got lucky.

What do you recall of the filming of your scenes?

A lot of hanging around off set and on. The filming methods have speeded up now. Darth Vader walked up and down past us a lot. I remember one Stormtrooper wanted to use the toilet and the suits were zipped at the back. Unfortunately he didn’t make it and got a stain….

The Star Wars phenomenon was huge when you got your part for the Return of the Jedi. Did you see the other two movies and what did you think of these?

I especially liked first movie back in 1977. It was new, different and exciting. I wish I’d worked on that but I didn’t.

I don’t think there is a movie that has such a huge and strong fan base as Star Wars. For over 35 years people buy the merchandise, watch the movies over and over again, and the movies have become a part of the modern culture. What do you think the ‘Force’ behind this is?

Star Wars fans are very loyal. Some are very young; it covers all ages. I think older people who were kids when they saw the movies have stuck with it.

What is the best memory you have regarding Star Wars?

Being on the set with George Lucas and sir Alec Guinness. It was at the Elstree studios just outside London where I also worked on another Lucasfilm production: Willow.

What do you regard as the highlight of your career?

So many nice memories. I worked on Ellis Island back in 1984 and got to shake hands with Richard Burton and Faye Dunaway. They were hosting a wedding reception and I was a guest. His daughter Kate was playing his daughter in film. That was in Luton in a stately home near London. Working on Return of the Jedi was a highlight of course but I didn’t have much contact with the principles as they came on set, did their bit and then went away. Meryl Streep also comes to mind, she’s very nice. I also worked with Billy Zane who’s very earthy.

What are you currently doing?

I’m doing conventions these days although I only started two years ago. I went to Japan in May, will be going to France and may do one in the London area.

Please finish the following sentence: “When I look back at my work on Star Wars, I…”

I wish I’d been able to actually meet sir Alec Guinness.