In 1997 one of the most popular Star Wars games ever was released: Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. In this game the player takes on the role of Kyle Katarn and has to duel with several Dark Jedi. One of the reasons this game was so well received was because of the many live action cutscenes, where the game characters came to life. Perhaps the most memorable Dark Jedi was a Twi’lek named Boc, played by actor Time Winters. In the following interview (as always: exclusive for this site) he looks back at his time in ‘A Galaxy Far, Far Away…’
How did you get started in the movie business?
I was lucky in that I always wanted to make films and/or act. Made 8mm/16mm films and videos in high school. Trained in TV production and stage acting at university. Luckily got some stage acting jobs out of college and eventually moved from New York to Los Angeles.
You played the character Boc in the Star Wars game: Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight. How did you get this part?
Like most roles at that time, my agent made an appointment for me to meet them and read for a role. I went to an office building on 3rd and La Cienega in West Hollywood. (Most auditions are in a little roomier spaces). In this office five people were crunched around a desk and I went in and read the section of the script I had been given. At that point, I suspected that it had something to do with Star Wars (very exciting, if it was true), or at least sci-fi and space. To prevent leaks, there are codenames to disguise everything. Also that was the first time I went up for a “video game”, which was rather a new thing at the time.
Dark Forces II was an ambitious project. In fact, the scenes that were filmed were some of the first Star Wars scenes shot in, over a decade. Can you recall how these scenes were filmed?
We shot everything in front of green backgrounds. The deeply wonderful thing was that, actors are always having to imagine their character’s world and environment, when doing their work at home. When you actually shoot your scenes is when you see what your actual environment is. Shooting like that on green screen, we could pretty much still use our imaginative world. With Dark Forces, they would show us their computer version of where we were and our imaginations could take it from there. It was a great reminder that the technology was taking us to wherever we could imagine going.
We shot in a studio out in the San Fernando valley, which was designed to look like an old Western town, very hot, little air-conditioning. Trying to be a “serious actor”, my scene partner for a class I was in, came out there to try to run a scene with me we were working on. At the time, she was pregnant and when she saw me, a big blobby-headed tenacled monstrosity with blood red eyes, it made her ill and she had to leave immediately. Sigh.
What instructions/information did you get regarding Boc and how to portray him?
From the audition on, I was pretty much just told that I was “Boc the Crude” so that’s what I went with. Before going into make-up I was told I was a Twi’lek, like Jabba’s chief aide Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi. They also informed me that my choice of weapons was two light sabers. I was also shown the original character sketch of good, ol’ Boc, which I still have.
You had to perform under several layers of makeup. How long did you have to spend at the make-up department and did all those layers made it easier to perform or more difficult?
Luckily I had worked many times with the wonderful Make-up artist Michael Burnett, who had previously frozen me, decapitated me (Kenan & Kel: Two Heads Are Better Than None), and even vampired me in Nosferatu, L.A. ’02 and some other things. Great guy!
After the rigors of being a Cardassian on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Rathenn on Babylon 5, it was a mere 4 to 5 hours in make-up, but as the prosthetic was in one large pre-made piece, removing it at the end of the day was pretty quick. Relatively. The full eye contacts, which I had not worn before that, once they were installed in my eyes, had to have moistening eyedrops put in every 3 or 4 minutes or I was warned they would remain attached. I became pretty religious about those eyedrops. And as mentioned above, my former scene partner couldn’t stand to look at them.
What is your own view on the game? Did you enjoy playing it?
I only actually played it a couple of times after it first came out. What amazed me was that over the years so many people have proudly come up to me and said how many times they killed me in that game. Must be hundreds of thousands of times by now . . .
Were you a Star Wars fan before you did Dark Forces II? When and where was the first time you saw a Star Wars film?
Yes! Serious actor, again. I was working in a summer repertory theatre out in the cornfields of Iowa in 1977. Some weeks we had a lead role in a play and some weeks we had a small role and were working building sets in the shop. One week I was in the shop, so I didn’t have to be rehearsing all day and cramming lines. Guys in the shop were talking about a really cool space movie that was playing at a drive-in in the next town over. A girl I knew with a rather infamous reputation also had a night off, so we borrowed the prop van and went to the drive-in: Star Wars: A New Hope. Despite her reputation, we watched the movie and it was really cool! Living in New York, in the eighties, I made it a habit to see each succeeding episode on opening day . . .
How do you look back at your ‘Star Wars legacy’?
Just super glad I got to play. Still very fond of Boc Aseca, crude though he remains . . .
You have worked as an actor on many popular shows, especially in the 90’s: Murder, She Wrote, MacGyver, Star Trek the Next Generation, Babylon 5….the list goes on. How do you look back at that period?
Being an actor, a creative, is a gift. And getting intriguing jobs, incredible! I have gotten to work with some brilliant artists and people and can never express enough gratitude for that.
What do you regard as the highlight of your career so far?
Actors, being transient beings, the highlight is usually the last thing I did. Or the next thing. Three years ago in L.A. I got to play Bardolph to Tom Hank’s Sir John Falstaff in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2; that was good! On Gremlins 2, I got to meet and talk with Christopher Lee, whom I idolized as a child. I got to do Amadeus on Broadway, with, by the way, Mark Hamill no less. The highlights in a working actors’ life are not plentiful but they are frequent for me. There is a Buddhist quote to, “Suffer what there is to suffer, and enjoy what there is to enjoy.” That’s worked for me . . .
What are you currently doing? Do you have new projects?
I am now shooting a part in a horror film called The Painted. I’m in two episodes of Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots (which are streaming now: they are motion-capture and, man, has technology come a looonnnggg way since Dark Forces II).
I have worked on quite a few games of late, Metal Gear Solid V, The Elder Scrolls, and some upcoming Marvel Comics Universe and Harry Potter titles, among others. Also, I have recorded quite a few audiobooks, one of my favorites was With Teeth by Brian Keene, a nice little American modern vampire tale (available on Audible.com). I keep learning, reaching, and working, and that remains wonderful!