Star Wars At 40 - Sci Fi & Horror Actors / Actresses Talk Star Wars
Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca Speaks!)
KH - Your first Hollywood job was playing the Minotaur in Sinbad and the eye of the Tiger. Is it true you got the job because of a photoin a London newspaper?
PM - Yes, actually, the article was about people with big feet. A reporter noticed me and a much smaller mate of mine when he visited his sick mom in the hospital where I was working and photographed us walking together and took some pictures of my feet. I didn't win the big feet contest, but that eventually led to my role in Sinbad.
KH - Back when you were working on Star Wars: A New Hope did you get a sense that you were working on something special or did it just seem like the usual B-movie space opera?
PM - I'm not sure what the usual B-movie space opera would have been. I don't think my thinking went that deep at the time, I really just thought it was a B-movie....period. I really don't think anybody knew what we were about to become a part of.
KH - What was it like to be in the Chewbacca costume? I would imagine it was quite uncomfortable on the set, but I bet you got the last laugh in Norway filming Empire?
PM - Yes, Norway I would have been the warmest one of the lot. Otherwise, it's something that you get used to and hopefully build some tolerance for the heat. I do admit that the new Chewie suit has a water cooling system though, makes it better.
KH - What were some of your favorite moments from filming the original Star Wars trilogy?
PM - Probably the chess match. I really didn't know how to play chess and since there weren't any pieces on the board anyway, I didn't feel very handicapped. I thought the final scene of the chess match as it was composited turned out really well. Well, at the very least, you should always let the wookiee win.
KH - What was it like to work with George Lucas? Many people have had different takes on him. What was your impression of the man?
PM - I really, honestly like George and can tell you from personal experience that he hasn't changed much, if at all, over the years. I'm pretty sure those were the same sneakers and the same flannel shirt that he was wearing during shooting in 1976.
KH - Many fans have wondered why "Chewie" never received a medal at the end of A New Hope? Did you ever want to speak up and say "Hey where's Chewie's medal George?"
PM - I was much too timid for that, but Chewie did finally get a medal at the MTV Awards several years back, it is one of my prized possessions.
Suzi Lorraine (Actress/Model/Writer)
"Star Wars" was of course a cultural phenomenom that changed the world of filmmaking. I remember all the action figures when I was little, and I always thought they were pretty cool. I remember those and my brother's 'Kiss' action figures vividly. The first time I saw Star Wars was on VHS. I was completely blown away with the creativity, concept and characters! I thought the effects were amazing- particularly so for 1978! I loved R2D2 and C3PO. The Star Wars bar rocked, and I make references to it often. If I have to pick my favorite characters- it would have to be the Ewoks from Return of the Jedi- ugly, cute, and whimsical all at the same time. As a "true" Star Wars fan - I'm not as fond of the new 'prequels'...."
Carl Craig (Jim Morgan in Destroy All Planets/US Air Force/US Government)
"The summer of 1977, I was a rising senior in college. I had just signed on for a new job right after finals. I already had a job with UPS and I needed the extra bucks for the new Corvette I was going to buy that summer. That and a serious relationship with a college girlfriend were the two most important topics of the day. However, there was a rumor of an incredible movie due out at the end of May and there was a big buzz about it. Also, there was talk about a new space TV show that fall (Battlestar Galactica). I liked the thought of some space themes as opposed to a big shark eating everyone and the last thing that was "spacey" was Close Encounters but that movie seemed so goofy and distant. The idea of a space theme with the name "Wars" in the title stimulated my thoughts of what a fighter pilot of the future might be like."
"I was learning how to fly that summer as a part of my Air Force R.O.T.C. scholarship. I was due to be commissioned and go to pilot training in 1978 and was really into airplanes, spacecraft, and the likes. I built every flying model known to man as a young boy and still had aspirations of space travel as an astronaut. I had the Battle of Britain hanging from my ceiling despite my folk's concern for me destroying the structural integrity of the ceiling and the house. It is funny how your dreams as a kid can be so exciting but when the realization of them coming true becomes a possibility, new feelings emerge from your already heaving emotions."
"I was really excited about being a pilot and more excited about being a fighter pilot. The futuristic battle in space was looming just weeks ahead. I can remember that I made a special effort to be at the box office some 5 hours ahead of the first showing. My college roommate thought I was crazy when we pulled into the parking lot at about 2 P.M. We had done this numerous times to get good student tickets for college football games. In fact, we had camped out a few times overnight to get them but to go to a movie theater this early? His thought of how crazy I was quickly diminished when he saw that we were going to be somewhere in the middle of the line to see the movie. The hoopla was genuine; the people we were talking with in line were extremely excited."
"We first sprinted to get seats and then I went and got a tub of well lubed corn and Raisinettes. It was unseasonably hot that week of May and the a/c was feeling pretty good while we waited for the lights to dim. I realize that Industrial Light and Magic and the program Lightwave was the basis for all the special effects from Lucas in new films of the era but the miniatures and models of Star Wars were spectacular! As a Japanese Monster Movie veteran, I was thoroughly impressed with the effects of Star Wars as opposed to my experience in Destroy all Planets with piano wires and the "man-in-a-suit" efforts."
"I had not been in a movie theater where people cheered and screamed when a premier was over. I do recall my folks telling me when they went to see Cecil B. DeMille’s 10 Commandments, the people applauded as the curtain closed. Now I was really fired up about being a pilot and an astronaut. Not only was the flying great, the pilot got the good looking chick to kiss him. Ok, it was his sister but how were we supposed to figure George Lucas out that early?"
"Anyway, I rate that movie as one of the most moving movies of my life. It could not have been timed any better and now, (40) years later, I still can sit through the entire movie and feel the same way I did the very first time. Star Wars has a special place in my life and I celebrate the (40th) anniversary with great enthusiasm. Long live the Jedi Knights and I am a firm believer in the "Force." It was with me for a long time and I hope it will stay with me for a long time to come."
Mr. Lobo (Host of the nationally syndicated TV series Cinema Insomnia)
"As a child of divorce in the 70's Star Wars was my mother and father. Star Wars was the Beatles of my generation and next to Creature Features the main inspiration that jumpstarted my career in fantasy."
Christopher Mihm (Writer & Director of The Monster of Phantom Lake)
"Actually, my first brush with Star Wars is my first memory EVER. I was born in 1976. When I was a kid, my parents would take my brothers and I to the local drive-in almost every weekend. I don’t know if it was the summer of ’77 or a repeat showing in ’78 but my dad took my mom, older brother and I to see Star Wars at the drive-in. He’d already seen it a couple times so it was no big deal that he would miss part of the movie to go get some treats from concessions for my mom. I wanted to go with so he took me. I distinctly remember being walked by my dad to the concession stand and turning around to look at the screen. I saw Obi-Wan Kenobi’s flashing lightsaber as he fought Darth Vader. I remember being mesmerized by the color and movement and to this day, it is literally my earliest childhood memory. I grew up with Star Wars and to this day, I am a rabid fan. I own a collection of Star Wars memorabilia that is easily worth $50,000 (or more) and I have introduced my own kids to it. My love of Star Wars and its inspirational effect on my filmmaking is equaled only by my uber-geek love of Star Trek."
Sara Dunn (The Queen of Trash) (Actress and Model)
"Star Wars changed my sex life forever. What better way to get the middle aged fan boys eating out of my hands then to don my Princess Leia slavegirl outfit! It never fails!!"
Norman England (Director)
"Seventeen at the time of its release, I was certain that Star Wars had come custom made for this sci-fi geek who had grown up on a steady diet of 50s and 60s sci-fi films and TV shows. But Star Wars' impact - great as it was - came not so much from the first screening but a week prior its release in the form of a small B/W photo run in the Arts and Leisure section of the Sunday New York Times. A somewhat blurry dot matrix picture, it showed two Storm Troopers with weapons extended. Nothing more. "Holy crap!" I thought as the design of both the outfits and the laser rifles announced that some cool cinematic times were brewing in the genre I loved most.
Being (Forty) years ago and seeing as I saw the film no less than ten times in the theater (topped only by EMPIRE, which I saw sixteen times in the theater) it is hard to weed out the memory of the very first screening. However, one memory that does stand out is a visit to the house of a girlfriend shortly after seeing STAR WARS for the first time. Gathered upon her dresser was the entire set of just-released Kenner Star Wars figures. My first time to see such a thing, I asked what "that" was all about. "I'm not sure," she replied, "but I like the way they look." And now forty years later, it seems that so did the rest of us."
Ellen Dubin (Actress)(Lexx, Napolean Dynamite)
I was a child when STAR WARS came out but I remember my parents taking me to the film and being mesmerized by the whole experience.
I remember loving the whole fairy tale aspect of the movie at the time- the princess being rescued etc.
But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate the multi layered movie that Lucas createdit is astounding!it was the first time, I became aware of the difference of good and evil in a movie.