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Boba Fett in Kansas City: An Interview with Jeremy Bulloch

by U.J. Lessing

Jeremy Bulloch, in comparison to his most famous role, is a gentle-mannered man in his sixties with grey hair and a soft voice. He is a mild man who has a natural way with both adult fans and children. Bulloch came to Kansas City, the heartland, as a guest of honor at Planet Comicon, a science-fiction convention filled with Star Wars merchandise and costumed fans, and here, he kindly agreed to talk with me about his most famous role; a part that began with only four lines.

Say the name, Boba Fett, to any Star Wars fan, and watch what happens. Eyes will open a little wider. Hearts will beat a little faster. This evil, silent and villainous character rivals Darth Vader in popularity. In fact, in 2003, a rocket-firing Boba Fett Action Figure sold for $16,000. Boba Fett, the silent bounty hunter who tracks Han Solo to Cloud City, is a character shrouded in mystery, and despite an anticlimactic death in Return of the Jedi, is one of the most beloved villains in the series.

So how was such a fearsome rogue brought to life in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi? What does the face behind the mask look like?


U.J. Lessing: You started out in the 1960s, and you were in a film with Cliff Richard. Were you interested in music and film when you were a kid?

Jeremy Bulloch: I started acting at the age of 12 and did several childrenís films, and the musical (Summer Holliday) came up out of the blue. Iím not a singer, and Iím not a brilliant dancer. But this was a fun musical, which they show every Easter, every Christmas. Time and time again I look at it and think, ďOoh, I got away with that bit of dancing.Ē I love music, film, and theatre. Everything to do with the profession is fantastic.

UL: Before Star Wars, you also did a couple of "Doctor Who" episodes.

JB: Yes, I did one called ďSpace MuseumĒ with William Hartnell, and that was fun. William Hartnell could be a little bit crotchety, but I learned an awful lot from him. He said, ďBe disciplined son. When youíve done as many films and as many things as I have done, thatís when you canÖĒ and I said, ďYes, certainly. Thank you Mr. Hartnell and then the opposite. Although in the end, he was very nice. William Hartnell, he said, ĎYou learned. Didnít you? You watched. You learned.í

Jon Pertwee was completely different. Just giggling like a schoolgirl all the time and just having a wonderful time. He was a delight.

UL: And that episode you are in, ďThe Time Warrior.Ē Itís so memorable. Itís a great one.

JB. Funny enough, there was talk that I would get on the...go into the Tardis, and go off, because it was the first one with Elizabeth Sladen as the companion. And there was talk that I was going to get on the Tardis and go away with them, as they were writing it. So itís a bit sad. It would have been nice to do a few more episodes.

UL: What were the exact events that happened that brought you to Boba Fett?

JB: The events were that they were auditioning, well to me it felt like, extras really. The bounty hunters were all characters standing around, and I was told, I got dressed in the outfit, and I fitted the outfit.

I saw Gary Kurtz and George Lucas came in and said, ĎYeah, uh-huh, okay. Thatís fine. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.í And I just fitted the costume. I didnít have to read. I didnít realizeÖI didnít know how many lines there were, and when I realized there were four, oh well. Never mind.

And it is actually the smallest part Iíve ever played. Four lines. But, isnít it funny? Iím known all over the world for that part covering my face. And I think I was very lucky that I was there on the right day, the right time, and the audition was, ďWell, welcome aboard, Jeremy.Ē I fitted the costume. There was no reading. There was no, ďIím not sure whether you look right. Come back again.Ē Thereís no screen test. It was as simple as that.

I always believe that most people could do it. I mean obviously I didnít just sit and stand. I used to love cradling the gun and just posing with the hand cocked ready to fire the gun, and the costume helped a great deal.

UL: In The Empire Strikes Back, you have this bounty hunter thatís more of a Raymond Chandler character than a George Lucas character. Do you think that Leigh Brackett had a lot to do with the development of Boba Fett?

JB. Yes, I think so. Yes. I would absolutely agree with you there. Originally, funny enough, the costume was, he was a super trooper. It was sort of a whitey grey full costume.

And I think George Lucas came in to say, ďNo. We need to doctor it up a bit,Ē and it became a green outfit. So originally he was a shock-trooper. The outfit was based on a series of shock-troopers, which you actually never saw in the film.

UL: Many of Boba Fettís fans were disappointed by his death in The Return of the Jedi. How do you feel about that?

JB. Well, I agree. I was rather upset as well, but I mean, thatís filming, you know. He got rid of Boba Fett, but in a way it helps the whole story thing because stories are invented. He gets out of the pit. This happens and that. From my own point of view, I was a bit upset. It would have been nice to have had a little bit longer time in that sequence. I just thought he went a little bit too early.

UL: Especially since Lucas expanded the whole mythos of Boba Fett in the second film. Did you enjoy watching Attack of the CIones and seeing the history and the background of Boba Fett?

JB: Yeah, I think whatís so nice having met Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett) and Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett), itís nice that he has a background. Itís quite possible that you know you just never hear of him again, but heís in Attack of the Clones, and you see him. Heís a clone.

Iíve had to undo all the things Iíve said about Boba Fett. I said he was a human being. Well, now heís a clone. They said, ďWhy did you say he was a human being?Ē I said, ďWell, he is. You know. To me,Ē but now heís a clone, so itís all new.

UL: You are appearing in the new Star Wars film opening in theaters this summer in a cameo I believe.

JB: Yeah. There is a cameo. I havenít talked about it much, because you can be filming for two weeks, and when you see the final piece you can end up being cut out of it. Thereís always that possibility.

I hope Iím in it. Itís only a brief cameo. So I suppose itís a tribute to the amount of work I did in the films. I love doing this day, and George was exactly as heís always been, very calm and very gentle, and if Iím in the final cut in the summer theater, Iíll be thrilled. If Iím not, well thatís the way things go.

I might end up on a DVD Special Edition Cut version of where was Jeremy Bulloch in this scene, or can you spot Jeremy Bulloch in this scene? But hopefully Iíll be in the final piece.

UL: Do you have other future acting projects?

JB: Well, I just finished a six episode comedy series called ďStar Hyke.Ē Itíll be shown in the autumn somewhere in England, but we still donít know. A lot of special effects to be slotted together, so weíll just see what happens with that. Other projects later this year, but I think itís going to be a very very busy year this year with Star Wars and the re-release, so Iím sort of running about going backwards and forwards to America, Japan, Mexico. So there will be a lot of things to do.



Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is currently in theaters. You can purchase Jeremy Bullochís biography, Flying Solo, at www.jeremybulloch.com


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1480
originally posted: 05/20/05 02:04:14
last updated: 12/19/07 11:39:51
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