Vivienne Chandler (Dorovio Bold)

Vivienne Chandler
Dorovio Bold (Return of the Jedi)
Interview: February 2013

How did you get started in the movie business?

I started my acting career in the theatre as an assistant stage manager with small parts (acting ASM’s they were called). Various things from Shakespeare to naff farces in theatres at the end of piers. In those days it was a good way to cut your teeth in the acting world. Then I had an agent who found work for me.

You played an X-Wing pilot in Return of the Jedi. How did you get cast for this movie?

By this time I had had a break in my career as I had two small boys but took small jobs that wouldn’t take me away from them. A casting director friend phoned me up and said ‘Hey fancy this job on a Star Wars film?’ I just thought ‘Yes that sounds convenient’ and I had never dressed up in a pilot’s outfit so I was well up for it.

What are your specific memories from the set during filming? Do you have any anecdotes from your time on the set?

It all seems such a long time ago… I remember sitting in a cockpit which of course had a big blue screen behind it. I had been sent a script with lines to say, all cut of course subsequently, except I do remember going to a cinema screening and seeing myself AND I had a credit! Anyway I remember sitting there and thinking well no doubt this will look real on the screen but the inside of the cockpit looked a bit tacky and cobbled together! Not quite cornflakes packets and the inside cardboard of toilet rolls, but almost! I also remember wandering into the wardrobe department and being in awe of the amount of Darth Vader and all the rest of the costumes. It seemed like a great sea of them.

Were you a fan before you got cast? Had you seen the other two Star Wars movies? And what did you think of them?

Well I had two young sons so of course I had watched Star Wars with them but no I would never have considered myself a fan as such. Hey, one of my sons still has his Millennium Falcon in the back of a cupboard!

I am always interested in what the Star Wars cast regard as their favourite Star Wars moment that they experienced on the set. Can you share yours?

I can remember thinking actually I came thinking well this is just a job but then realising Oooh, actually it’s great pretending to be a pilot fighting for the greater good it was such fun and I wished my boys were watching and hey, I wish now I had a bigger part! I really enjoyed myself.

What do you make of the continuing popularity the Star Wars franchise has engendered? Even though you had a small part and it’s 30 years since your scenes were filmed, there are still fans wanting your autograph and fans who want to interview you (like me).

Well it certainly all hit a nerve and obviously filled a need. I suppose it is like stories of ‘Good versus Evil’ have always been an important part of the human psyche. Not many people bother with the likes of the Grimms anymore so this is a modern tale and somehow people related to it then and still do. Storytelling is so important and human beings need something to cling on to in order to make sense of their world. In this way Star Wars has been a tale par excellence? By being a fan they are an integral part of it too and help keep the whole machine going.

Besides Star Wars, you have featured in more movies of which A Clockwork Orange is probably the most popular one. This one was directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick. How was it to work with him?

I was very young and very inexperienced at the time. I had no idea who he was then really. I can’t really remember much about him at all except a recollection that whatever we did took ages! I don’t think I was feeling very comfortable with it all actually is the truth.

After your acting career you became a photographer. Why did you ‘change your career’?

This was for two reasons really. Mainly because I had children and it is never easy juggling that kind of work which is so unpredictable and being a mum who is always there for them. Also I have always been interested in image making and found I had a passion for it.

You have exhibited in cities like London. Which of your photos are you most proud of?

These two 2 photos of my daughter. The colour one is a cibachrome print. The black and white one is a platinum print.

What are you currently doing? Do you have any new, exciting projects coming up?

Well four years ago, when my very last child was leaving home I decided that I would go back into acting but unfortunately a serious illness struck me at that very time and I am still dealing with it. However I have managed to do a play and also have worked with young film makers on short projects. One of them can be viewed on the internet. It is called Ceaseless Sound. One can locate it through google or vimeo. I am currently working on a documentary.

Final question: please finish the following sentence: “When I look back at my work on Star Wars, I ….”

…wish I had had a bigger part!”