Synopsis: Actors and extras reminisce about their time on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) and how making the film affected their lives.
Review: Written and directed by Jon Spira Elstree 1976 talks with many of the character actors that played smaller roles in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.
Many of the actors featured in ‘Elstree 76’ literally only had a couple of seconds worth of film in the movies, but some of these moments have become legendary and still create debate amongst ‘Star Wars’ fans. Want to know who it was that shot first in the cantina. Perhaps you could ask Paul Blake who played Greedo, but was not credited in the movie.
The actors featured in this film are: David Prowse, Jeremy Bulloch, John Chapman, Anthony Forrest, Paul Blake, Laurie Goode, Garrick Hagon, Derek Lyons, Angus MacInnes and Pam Rose.
All these actors share their experiences of working on ‘Star Wars’ and tell a few fun stories about their time on the set.
One common thread that all these actors shared was that none of them realised how Big Star Wars was going to become at the time. In fact some were under the impression that it was a TV movie and didn’t really have fantastic expectations about how it was going to turn out.
The film works as a series of interviews with the different actors relating their experiences on ‘Star Wars’ as well as having worked at Elstree. Although not household names many of these actors went on to have roles in other modern classics such as the Bond Films and the Indiana Jones films. So these people could well be considered the unsung heroes of the acting community when it comes to film and television.
Of course fans of ‘Star Wars’ and Genre film and television are very familiar with Jeremy Bullock and Dave Prowses who are perhaps the bigger names featured in this film, but they do not take away from the stories that the other actors have. They only add to it.
A good addition to this film is having Garrick Hagon tell his story. Hagon only appeared in the first ‘Star Wars’ film as Luke Skywalkers best friend Biggs Darklighter, which was originally a bigger role than what ended up on the film. Hagon talks about this and you get to see some of the footage that was shot, which of course is out there on the internet, but this film adds a little more context to the scenes.
David Prowse talks about the fact that he has been barred from Celebration and all of the Disney ‘Star Wars’ events due to his somewhat difficult relationship with Lucasfilm, but what was more interesting was a story he tells about working on ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in which he shocked the actors by kind of took Stanley Kubrick to task over the amount of takes he was asking for.
Jeremy Bullock talked about his experience of playing Boba Fett and how it all came about. He also talked about signing fairs and the effort that he likes to take to make sure it is as good an experience for fans as he can make it. Having met Bullock a couple of times myself. I can attest to what a great guy he is. I was lucky enough at one convention to have breakfast with him and his lovely wife where we discussed ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Wars’. And back then I was impressed with the effort and care that Bullock puts into making every fan he meets feel respected and appreciated.
One of the other actors in the film joked about the fact that Jeremy Bullock and Kenny Baker seem to get more fan attention due to the fact that you never get to see their faces in the film.
Elstree 76 is a damn good watch. Its fun because it gives you a look at ‘Star Wars’ from the perspective of actors that often go unrecognised for their contributions to the films. All the actors featured had their own individual stories, which lend a new spin to watching the films. I loved the story Drewe Henley told about filming the scene in which he was making his run on the Deathstar as Red Leader.
Overall this is well worth a look if you are one of those fans like myself that enjoy hearing some of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on when making films. Its also a great watch because it will make you pull over your copy of ‘Star Wars’ and watch again.
If anything Elstree 1976 gives us the stories of ten different actors that shared a unique experience on ‘Star Wars’, but were mostly behind a mask or only appeared briefly in the films. The opening few minutes where each actor talks about their background and how they got into it are quite insightful as to how the industry has changed from what it was back in the mid 1970’s.
Elstree 1976 is due for release on DVD and Blu Ray in the US in June. It’s well worth a look and worth having if you like your trivia.