Mr. De’Winter, my first question: How did you get into the movie business?
The movies are the reason I wanted to become an actor when I was a child. I worked for many years in theatre and had done some independent films. The Force Awakens is the first Blockbuster I’ve worked on.
In The Force Awakens you play the part of Goss Toowers. Could you tell how you got this role?
Actually it was through theatre work that I was recommended for this role. The year before filming began I was touring in Dubai for a show there. I worked with a great choreographer who the following year was the creature co-ordinator for The Force Awakens. He remembered me and, when asked who he’d like to work with, he recommended me. This is an example of there being no small jobs. As an actor you must treat every job with the same level of professionalism, as you never know what other work it will lead to.
On your site I saw you’re also credited as a droid puppeteer for The Force Awakens. Can you tell something more about this?
My role in The Force Awakens was as a creature performer, not a puppeteer. A creature performer is inside the costume with an earpiece linked to the puppeteer. Because vision is limited inside the costume, whilst filming, the puppeteer passes information to the creature actor so they know what’s happening around them. The communication between puppeteer and actor is vital with so much going on during the filming of the scene. The puppeteer works the animatronics whilst the actor brings the character to life. The credit listing in the film is ‘Creature and Droid Puppeteers’, there wasn’t an individual listing.
You officially announced that you played Goss Toowers last month (February 2016). Was there a specific reason you couldn’t say that before the movie was released or shortly after the release?
Before the release of the film any information that can be classed as a “spoiler” cannot be released. This includes anything about any possible creatures. In the case of The Force Awakens we waited for official notification that we could release this news. I worked on the film 18 months before it was released but any creature or character information was a closely guarded secret. Everyone working on the film wanted the fans to be surprised and excited on seeing the film, and this is the best way of ensuring that.
There’s a Goss Toowers action figure and even a LEGO minifigure (I proudly admit I have the LEGO one!). When did you find out you were ‘immortalized’ as toys and what was your feeling then?
When filming The Force Awakens I did get told that there was a possibility of a LEGO figure, of course the idea was very exciting but once again I couldn’t share that information with anyone. Besides, working on the film was already a surreal experience, so the idea of a toy was incredible to me. It was before the film was released when the first wave of toys came out in stores and I got to see my character as a LEGO figure. That blew me away! Then along came the action figure…Goss Toowers…I couldn’t believe it, and yes, I also own each one.
What was the first time you saw a Star Wars movie and were you a fan before you got cast?
I first saw Star Wars a long time ago, in a cinema, far, far away…sorry, couldn’t resist! Being into film I went to the cinema a lot as a child, which again is the reason I wanted to become an actor. I had no idea what the film was about, I just knew I had to watch it as it was some kind of futuristic space adventure. I remember queuing up with my friends, in a very long queue, and hoping we’d get in to see it. The moment arrived and as I watched the title scrawl across the screen I knew this was going to be something special. After the film finished, we made our way home playing at being in Star Wars. It’s one thing to play at being Han Solo, but another to actually working with him!
Could you share some stories regarding the filming of your scenes?
A remarkable thing was being directed by J.J. Abrams. He made sure he knew everyone’s name, and came in everyday with a real passion for the work we were all doing.
Another quite funny story, regarding my costume, I wear some padding underneath my clothes to give Goss his cute rotundness. Once the flesh coloured padding is on, one being his tummy and one being his bottom, people would often catch site of it at the corner of their eye and think it was real. The looks and gasps and laughter as they then realised the flesh coloured bottom was not my own but a false one! That was the same reaction every day!
Could you describe an average day on the set of The Force Awakens?
Working on any film set you have to have the 2 P’s…Passion and Patience! As glamourous as it can seem, working on a film set can also mean lots of waiting around while scenes you aren’t in are filmed or while new shots are set up. Whilst waiting you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Episode VIII is currently filming. Any chance we’ll see you as Goss Toowers (or another character) again?
Episode VIII is out in December 2017, so I guess you’ll have to wait and see.
Are there other new projects or movies you’re currently working on (or will start working on soon)?
I have a few projects currently in the pipeline but nothing I can disclose at this time.
Hopefully one of them is a Star Wars movie! Thank you for your time and this interview!