News Column

Jeremy Bulloch talks 'Star Wars' past, present

June 6, 2013

YellowBrix

June 06--If you're one of the millions around the world excited about the announcement of a new "Star Wars" trilogy, just imagine the emotions of those who were involved with the original films.

Jeremy Bulloch, who played bounty hunter Boba Fett, one of the saga's most popular characters, was as surprised as anyone when he learned of Disney's plans for more films. And it didn't take long for Bulloch's surprise to turn into the same exhilaration felt by fans.

"It's quite an exciting time, there will be an episode seven," Bulloch said during a recent phone conversation from his home in England. This news makes his appearance at the Niagara Falls Comic Con in Niagara Falls, Ont., this weekend, all the more, well, exciting for fans.

As a bonus: Bulloch will appear with his co-star and friend David Prowse, who played the menacing Darth Vader. ("You've got two of the villains together," Bulloch said.) The long list of celebrities also includes Adam West (TV's "Batman"), Lee Meriwether ("Batman," "The Time Tunnel"), special effects master Tom Savini, as well as Madison Lintz and Kylie Szymanski of AMC's popular "The Walking Dead" and wrestlers Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Mike Foley and Ted DiBiase (the Million Dollar Man).

Bulloch is busy for a man who wrote in his 2004 biography "Flying Solo" that interest in him might soon be a thing of the past. "I expect that I shall continue to appear at some conventions, although after seven years on the road I imagine that most people who have wanted to meet me must have done so already," he wrote.

He couldn't have been more wrong. From Niagara Falls, Bulloch will travel to Iowa and Texas, then on to the United Kingdom and Germany for more appearances. "It's absolutely manic," he said of requests. Most surprising: many of the fans at conventions, he said, are kids.

The mysterious Boba Fett first appeared on film in "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) as the mercenary out to collect the bounty on Han Solo; he returned in "Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" (1983). His screen time in both films was brief, yet the character quickly became a cult figure. Today, Boba Fett memorabilia is increasingly popular, with figures, replica helmets, clothing, watches and even cookie jars in demand.

Bulloch remains gracious in talking "Star Wars," whether it's about the new films (no, he doesn't know the story), the original trilogy ("it was our fun job") or that famous suit that covered him from head to toe ("it was the most uncomfortable outfit I ever wore").

As uncomfortable as it was, that suit, Bulloch said, holds the key to Boba Fett's enduring popularity. "When you look at the suit, there's so much on it. It gets people thinking, 'what's he gonna do with that?' There's a rope here, a wookie scalp over his shoulder. He has a viewfinder on his helmet," Bulloch said. "He's also cool. He doesn't say anything, he doesn't need to -- he can walk on very slowly and just stand and look at somebody and that person starts to think 'I'm not going to muck about with him.' "

It's refreshing to hear Bulloch's enthusiasm, as well as his continued enjoyment meeting and interacting with fans. "The lovely thing is they love Boba Fett as a character," he shares about meeting the young fans. "So they want him to be a little bit grumpy and they can have a fun time fighting Boba Fett. All in all, it's been a fun time. They come and say 'thank you very much for being Boba Fett' and that is very kind."

Bulloch's career has been long and varied, with performances in film, television and theater. (During his three-week shoot on "Empire," he performed in the theater at night.) His work includes other projects with large followings: "Doctor Who," "Robin of Sherwood" and three Bond films (playing Q's assistant Smithers). He laughs at his convention appearances posing with Bond girls. "What more do you want? That was fun," he said. Bulloch also has kind words about actor Roger Moore.

"He was such a fun guy. During the filming, he was so giggly and funny and made everyone feel very relaxed in what they were doing. A charming man. One of the best."

What's his favorite mode of acting?

"It has to be theater. There is no question about it. Just being there on stage, you can feel people are almost talking to you," he said. "I've done six plays in the West End of London; I've toured England five or six times with different plays and enough television to do a lot on that side as well. If it all ends tomorrow, no one wants to employ you, no one wants to invite you to a convention, I feel as though I've done it. If it never happens again I'll feel I've been very lucky. I'll just retire. Not yet, though. Not yet."

His memories of shooting the two "Star Wars" films include being on the set "and not doing anything at all except looking cool in the background."

"We were just having a laugh. This for us was our fun time," he said. "When you went off to the theater, that was your serious work. There was no money, but you were performing in this terrific play. It was long, hard days, but it was such fun doing 'Star Wars.' We were giggling at each other, 'look at your costume!' Little did you know, after all this time, that the costume would mean so much to so many people. It was nice to play that character. Long may it go on."

Bulloch has not been contacted yet about appearing in the new films, but he doesn't hesitate when asked if he would be interested in taking part. "Oh yes, I would love to come along and see me disappear in my moody bounty hunter corner," Bulloch said. "But if they don't contact me, there's no hard feelings. This is the way filming is. You either do the job or you don't. I'm still very excited about what's going to happen."

Despite his many acting roles, he said he doesn't mind being associated most for the character he played behind a mask some 30 years ago.

"If I'm remembered as Boba Fett when I retire, who cares? It's something that I loved doing. I loved playing Boba Fett," he said. "It was nice to be cool."

(For more from Bulloch, see the Gusto blog here.)

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What: Niagara Falls Comic Con

When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Scotiabank Convention Centre, 6815 Stanley Ave., Niagara Falls, Ont.

Tickets: $25 at the door, $40 two-day pass; free for ages under 10

Info: niagarafallscomiccon.com

email: truberto@buffnews.com

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