Some keen viewers may remember Tom’s (slightly, yet understandably star-dazzled) interview with Mark Austin.
Mark Austin is the charming animator who donned the suit of Boba Fett in the special edition of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1997). After a story like that we couldn’t just leave it there, and it would seem that Mark hadn’t quite had enough of us yet! What follows is Mark’s story of his first day in the suit, resulting in him being wrapped up in plastic and shipped out as the Boba figure in the Power of the Force set.
In his own words, Mark tells more of his Boba Fett story. “Everybody rightly assumes that the day I first tried on the actual Boba Fett suit was for the shooting of the blue screen, the footage being for the New Hope special edition. That chilly November shoot was a never-to-be-forgotten magical and surreal event; a whole day with the suit was incredible, but that was actually the fourth time I suited up. Now the second time I suited was maybe the best of all, by far.”
Here is the rather simple brief for Marks debut as Boba Fett: Suit up in the Boba Fett suit and jetpack. Pretend to be Boba Fett for four hours. Interact with aliens and cantina band.
“We want you to patrol the Mos Eisley Cantina that has been meticulously reconstructed on Skywalker Sound sound stage by the guys at ILM. There will be real people in suits; these are guests. The rest will all be aliens from the movie. Usual rabble. Mingle and keep close by, stay ready for any trouble. But no speaking. Just like they do in Disneyland, no vocals, just mine. You can mime right?”
“Could I mime being Boba Fett? As in, my favourite character since first I spied him on a mail-away offer?”
“This new development was incredible. I remember seeing the offer; I so wanted the action figure, no matter how many treasured cardboard backs I would need to deface. I was stunned. In him I saw the two greatest things imaginable – Star Wars and the Man-With-No-Name spaghetti western Clint Eastwood with poncho – and cloned them into this amazing character. Then he was ALSO bounty hunter!”
“Could I mime being him? In the genuine suit? For four (just four) hours in a replica cantina bar filled with aliens and guests?”
“So there I was cruising though the tables, weaving slowly to keep an eye on the alien rabble. My visor steamed up but who cares about that, right? In one corner the cantina band had their weird instruments and started miming as the music loudly kicked in. Holy crap! The bar was crowded with mainly humans at this point, though over the four hours this changed. Stormtroopers were at the entrance checking IDs, the real landspeeder parked right beside them. R2 and Threepio were also there but unmoving and lifeless – a completely different story to the bar. Everybody was in character, it was unreal! I’d get into a scuffle here and there but all patrons backed down in the end.
When they asked me if I wanted a break I swiftly declined. Sadly, two hours later they pulled me out and told me to have a break, else they’d be in trouble. I was thirstier than I’d ever been before or since.
Around about hour three I was asked by a guest to arrest a “gentleman over there” in a light gray suit. “He’s Kenner figures, he is!”. I went over and tapped him on the shoulder, and when he turned and saw who it was he cracked up, feigning defeat. I escorted him in a loose arm-lock to the entrance, turned him about and nodded to say that he’d best leave before I changed my mind (I was playing Boba after all).
He instead insisted I come over to their tables as they’d messed up the antenna on the original ’80 figure, moulding it last minute into the side. They’d wanted to get it right this time, so asked if I could pose for a few minutes. So i did. The guys ripped open their cigarette packets, dumping the contents into shirt pockets as they scribbled away with pens. The figure they finally did release was infamous “Power of the Force” figures, all of which were pretty buff. But as disappointing as that figure might have been, it was cool that it stood out from the many others.
And that’s it. Oh, and the “Star Wars Summit” as it was dubbed was such a success they asked if I would do it all over again in two weeks time.”
On that note I do believe that there is nothing more to say, other than a massive thank-you to Mark once again for giving us a view behind the helmet of Boba Fett.
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