Monday, 1 February 2016

Who has been in Star Wars?

Watch many TV series coming out of the US these days and you will see British actors in lead roles - often putting on a fake accent to be Americans. Idris Elba, Hugh Laurie, Andrew Lincoln, and many more. Go back a few decades, and Hollywood preferred British actors to take on the role of the principal villains. There's many a war movie with a noted British thesp playing the German officer.
This was the case back in the mid-1970's, when the first Star Wars film was being produced. It obviously helped that the first trilogy was made in England, as far as studio work is concerned.
Watch those first three movies and you will see a great many actors who are familiar to us from Doctor Who - almost always representatives of the Evil Empire (the Star Wars version of the Nazis).

Let's start with the most iconic figure in the entire series - Darth Vader. The voice might be James Earl Jones, but the body is Dave Prowse. He had appeared only once in Who, again unrecognisable in a mask, as the Minotaur in The Time Monster.
His boss is Grand Moff Tarkin - who has lent his title to a nickname for the current showrunner. He is Peter Cushing - the cinema Dr Who.
That Tusken Raider who attacks Luke Skywalker? That's Peter Diamond. He also arranged all the light-sabre work for the original trilogy. Diamond was a fight arranger on Doctor Who, and had two speaking roles in the Hartnell era - Delos in The Romans, and the rather cowardly Morok guard in The Space Museum. Diamond is also the Morris Dancer who bursts into the pub to attack Sgt. Benton but gets clobbered by Miss Hawthorne's reticule.
Onto Imperial officers, and the first we see is the one who informs Vader that the plans are not aboard the captured rebel ship. That's George Roubicek, who was Captain Hopper in Tomb of the Cybermen. Then we have Don Henderson, from Delta and the Bannermen, in the conference scene aboard the Death Star.
There are four Imperial officers who have played more than one role in Doctor Who, and the first to mention is Leslie Schofield (The War Games and Face of Evil).
One of the regular extras on Who was Harry Fielder - known simply as "H" - who features prominently in the second of Schofield's appearances. He is a Stormtrooper in the first Star Wars film.

Onto the good guys, and a couple of people worth a mention. First up, we should say something about Garrick Hagon (The Mutants and A Town Called Mercy). As Biggs, he had a much bigger role, set on Tatooine, but it was all cut - so he only features in the latter part of the film.
Amongst the flight crew helping the rebels prepare for the attack on the Death Star is Shane Rimmer (The Gunfighters), and one of the rebel officers is Malcolm Tierney (Terror of the Vervoids).
Lastly for the first movie, one of the stunt artists was Rick Lester, one of the principal Ogrons actors in Frontier in Space.

And so onto The Empire Strikes Back. A lot more Imperial officers on view, and guess what? Yes, a few faces familiar to Doctor Who.
First up we have Michael Sheard. He's the Admiral who displeases Vader and gets throttled quite early on. His Who credits have a whole post on this blog to themselves, should you care to have a little hunt.
The officer who takes charge of the Imperial Walkers down on Hoth is none other than Julian Glover, the third of the actors to have more than one role in Who. He was King Richard in The Crusade, then later Scaroth / Scarlioni in City of Death. (plus special mention should be made that his wife was in The King's Demons, and his son played William Russell in 2013's origins drama).
The last of the multi-Who actors to appear as an Imperial officer is Milton Johns. He was in The Enemy of the World, The Android Invasion, and The Invasion of Time.
One other low ranking officer is played by Mark Jones - Keeler from The Seeds of Doom.
There's a new bad guy on the block - Boba Fett. He is played by Jeremy Bulloch, from The Space Museum and The Time Warrior. I wouldn't like to say for certain, and he isn't credited anywhere as such, but one of the Imperial officers seen in the Cloudmine sequences looks suspiciously like Bulloch as well...
Pay attention to the line-up of other bounty hunters, and (allegedly) you'll see a reused spacesuit costume from 1960's Who.
There's also a new good guy introduced - Lando. His chief aide is John Hollis, who was Professor Sondergaard in The Mutants.

Sadly, as the films progress, we see fewer and fewer Who actors. save returnees like Prowse and Bulloch. The Return of the Jedi introduces those blasted Ewoks, chief of whom was young Warwick Davis, from Nightmare in Silver.
Deep Roy (Talons of Weng-Chiang and Mindwarp) plays one of the alien characters.
As well as choreographing light-sabre duels, Peter Diamond is still around on screen. He's one of those Imperial bikers in the forest of Endor.
Last but not least, there is an actor who was almost the Seventh Doctor - Dermot Crowley. He is the rebel General Madine (the one with the Donald Trump comb-over).

Sadly, the second set of three movies were mostly filmed in Australian studios, and UK actors were not used quite so much. Warwick Davis will appear in some capacity (sometimes more than one character). In The Phantom Menace he's both Greedo Jnr and, without a mask, as one of Jabba The Hut's entourage.
Brian Blessed (Mindwarp) - another nearly Doctor - voices the Gungan ruler.
One of the Naboo fighter pilots is Celia Imrie (The Bells of Saint John). Lindsey Duncan (The Water of Mars) provides one of the protocol droid voices.
And talking of voices, a very special mention for Silas Carson, the voice of the Ood. He is Nute Gunrey and Jedi council member Ki-Ade-Mundi (plus others). He will make it to the end of this second trilogy - as both characters.
Also from The Waters of Mars, we have Alan Ruscoe. An alien in this and the next film, he was also a Slitheen and the Anne-Droid amongst other things in Doctor Who.
From the most recent series of Who, there is also Peter Serafinovicz. He voiced Darth Maul, and we recently heard him voicing the Fisher King in Before The Flood.
Jeremy Bulloch gets a cameo appearance in the last of that original set of 6 movies - in Revenge of the Sith he's Captain Colton.

Which brings us to the most recent entry in the series - The Force Awakens. There's now 21st Century Doctor Who, so crossovers with 21st Century Star Wars are inevitable. Warwick Davis is back for a start, and genre fan Simon Pegg (The Long Game) is in it. So is young Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Human Nature / The Family of Blood).
Who is still going on (just), and there are a few more Star Wars movies in the pipe-line (including those spin-offs), so I expect I'll be revisiting and updating this in a couple of years' time.

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