Interview with Toby Philpott
(Original posting: July 29, 2003)

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Toby Philpott was one of the puppeteers who worked inside of Jabba the Hutt back in 1982 for a few weeks. His job was to control some of Jabba’s head, left arm, and tongue. Mike Edmonds, David Barclay, and John Coppinger (who was outside the costume, remotely controlling the eyes) rounded out the gang whose job was to make the audience believe that this slug of a puppet was real. The eclectic group pulled off the task with great success. Toby started out in the 1970’s as a street performer, fringe theater performer, and circus performer doing everything from acrobatics to fire eating to juggling to magic to unicycling and more. He moved on to film work through his contacts in the entertainment industry and worked on such great films as The Dark Crystal, The Company of Wolves, Labyrinth, Little Shop of Horrors, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and of course Return of the Jedi. He currently lives a peaceful life in England, working for his local library in the IT department and attends the occasional Sci-Fi convention as a guest when time permits, signing autographs and meeting numerous fans of the films he’s worked on. (Original posting: July 29, 2003)

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Interview with Kenny Baker
(Original posting: July 25, 2000)

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Kenny Baker is the actor/entertainer who crawled into the R2-D2 unit for every Star Wars film thus far. Being three feet and eight inches tall never stopped Kenny from making it big in the entertainment industry. He was in several fantastic films including Time Bandits, Flash Gordon, Amadeus, The Elephant Man, and of course the Star Wars films. If all goes well, he should end up being one of the proud few who can claim that they were in every Star Wars film. He currently lives in England and is enjoying life relaxing between touring all over the world and appearing at various Sci-fi conventions, something he really enjoys. Kenny was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of my questions.  (Original posting: July 25, 2000)

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Interview with Gerald Home
(Original Posting: August 1, 2006)

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You might not have seen Gerald Home’s face in Return of the Jedi, but you have seen the masks that covered it. Remember the fellow that was later named Tessek in the Expanded Universe? Older fans know him as “Squid Head.” That was Gerald Home. Remember the Mon Calamari officers standing behind Admiral Ackbar in nearly every scene? Gerald Home was Admiral Ackbar’s main man. Nowadays, he keeps busy with commercials and conventions, but Gerald took a few minutes to answer a few questions for me.  (Original Posting: August 1, 2006)

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Interview With Peter Diamond
(Original Posting: December 11, 2000)

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Peter Diamond (1929-2004) was the stunt coordinator for the original Star Wars trilogy, but he was much more than a well-established master at the art of stunt performing. He was also an actor, fencer, and filmmaker. Being a man of many talents, it’s no surprise to learn that he performed many of the minor roles in the Star Wars films like the Tusken Raider who attacked Luke, the cantina patron who squeals to the Stormtroopers, or one of many dedicated Stormtroopers serving the Empire. Peter took a few minutes to talk to me about his long career in the entertainment industry and, of course, his many roles in the Star Wars saga. (Original Posting: December 11, 2000)

 

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The Path of Luke Skywalker

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George Lucas has stated in many interviews that the heart of the Star Wars saga revolves around the relationship between a father and a son. He might not have had those roles clearly defined at the onset or writing, as evident in the old drafts of the script, but he eventually got his characters there. The role of the son eventually went to young Luke Skywalker who then embarked on the “Hero’s Journey” during the original trilogy. He starts out as a young boy, is thrown into adventure with a wizard-like mentor, defies the odds and pulls off the unexpected, and becomes a hero. The path was not an easy one, however.

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Battle in the Desert

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Rescuing Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba was no easy task. It took a well-thought out plan, consisting of many parts and relied on cunning and chance. It all concluded with a battle in the Tatooine desert over a mostly underground creature buried in the sand. The battle and its aftermath give us lots of material to cover.

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The Millennium Falcon’s (and Lando’s) Demise?

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Was there originally another fate for Lando and the Millennium Falcon at the end of Return of the Jedi? The answer is no, but let’s examine the origin of this urban legend.

Rumor has it that in an early rough draft of the script or treatment, Lando contacts Wedge while trying to get out of the Death Star II. He regrets not being able to return the Falcon without a scratch and that he hopes Han will forgive him. Then KABOOM!

There’s a little foreshadowing of this in the film when Han is looking at the Falcon from the shuttle cockpit. He says that he feels like he’s never going to see her again. Not much, but it makes you wonder how the ending celebration might have been different.

1284There was once a site called B Squared’s STAR WARS Stuff that was quite informative. There was one section in particular that I’d like to reference and it deals with the subject of the Falcon’s rumored demise. It’s quite interesting, though I have to say I very much disagree with some of it. Robert Brown, the author, seems to be very sure that this scene was filmed and even tested with audiences! I have found very little proof of this. I was always under the impression that this idea was something possibly written into one of the early drafts but was written out almost as fast.

1285Robert  posted an image which he claimed to be the Falcon blowing up (which I think was doctored by the source). I’m not sure how Robert meant to explain the pictures on the page but he implies that this picture of the ship exploding was cut from the film and not just a fan-made picture sent in by a guy named Tim Ketzer. If he is in fact claiming that this picture is a deleted still, then I have to disagree.

1286 I overlaid the two images in Photoshop with the fiery shot at 40% transparency. As you can see, they are the same exact still. If the shot in question was in the film at all, even moving one frame at a time there would be some kind of movement,  especially in the background.

I don’t think that this scene was ever filmed, never mind test screened.

To further debunk this rumor, on June 9th 2000, the Official Star Wars Site posted an article in their Urban Legends of Star Wars section dealing with this idea. Here’s an interesting excerpt that proves this was never filmed.

One definite culprit in this legend’s longevity is a revised plot synopsis treatment entitled ‘The Revenge and Return of the Jedi’. Dated July 6 1980, (though undoubtedly printed at a later date), this concise retelling of the basic story — with notable changes — is a fake. It describes Luke taking over the Death Star (re-christening it the Life Star), Vader being the ‘other’ Yoda spoke of, and Leia and Han marrying at the film’s end, with Wicket one of the attendants at the wedding. It also contains the following passage:

‘Meanwhile, the Death Star ray begins destroying Rebel ships. Lando and the Rebel Forces unsuccessfully attempt to penetrate the force field, and the efforts on Endor have failed. Lando sees many of his comrades dying for the Alliance. He feels that the Alliance might die itself if something is not done soon. Lando makes a final decision to plow the Millennium Falcon through the force field in a self-sacrificing gesture for the Rebel Alliance. Lando and the Falcon explode in a beautiful burst of energy and color.’

An excerpt from the screenplay that has Lando and the Falcon destroyed and Han looking up, quietly voicing his loss, has shown up on the Internet, but it too is a fake. Also untrue are tales that footage of the Falcon made its way into test screenings of Return of the Jedi, but was ultimately left out of the movie because it didn’t score well with the audience.

Given the weight of this evidence, it appears there is no truth behind the rumor that the Falcon and Lando were originally to have perished. It is possible the idea may have been thrown around during undocumented brainstorming sessions, but the legend that it actually was committed to film is false.

It’s a burning question that has gone unanswered for a long time but at least they confirmed that it was never filmed. I’d still like to know if it was a glimmer in Lucas’ eye at one time.

Just for kicks, Greg Rossiter, was having some fun going through the Google archives that go back into the early 1980’s, before the Internet was really around in full swing. There was much discussion back then on the BBS and such. One post caught his eye. Return of the Jedi had been out less than a month and someone was already claiming that their friend saw the “Lando dies” ending. Now you can see just how far back some of these rumors go.

Now a friend who’s seen an unreleased version of RotJ tells me that in that version, the Falcon was consumed at the last moment as it was escaping from the exploding Death Star, presumably killing Lando and co-pilot. This seems like a much more dramatic (though perhaps less mass-appealing) ending. My friend says that there are other differences from the released version, as well.