Mark Austin Interview: What It’s Like Being Boba Fett

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Today I had the pleasure of an interview with the A New Hope Boba Fett actor, Mark Austin.

Boba Fett, in A New Hope, was played by a plucky animator by the name of Mark Austin.

Mark was given the chance of a lifetime to wear the Boba Fett costume for A New Hope: Special Edition. You know. The ones where George decided he needed to make some changes to the perfect movie.

Mark, after being jobless and searching for an opportunity was in the right place at the right time, and got THE call, and THE question, that every man wants to be asked, which was: “So, Mark, do you want to be Boba Fett?”

Boba Fett Mark Austin
Mark Austin as Boba Fett

Our interview with Boba Fett began

DF: Thanks for chatting to me today Mark. To have a chance to speak to Boba Fett is a dream come true.

MARK: Thanks Tom

How did you get started in the movie business? What was the path that led you to getting to play the part outside of your other hugely impressive and successful career as an Animator/FX Supervisor?

MARK: I was originally a traditional animator working in my home London. I made commercials for television for English households products like Tetley Tea Bags and Ribena blackcurrent juice. Then the company closed with the owners retirement. I was jobless. 

A friend of mine was an avid ILM nutcase and he attended a lecture on the fx of Jurassic Park. He said they needed animators and had their hotel phone number. I called and took my reel and portfolio to their hotel room. They seemed to like what I had and said they’d maybe contact me.

December 16 1993 I got THE call. Could I start work in California in three weeks time?

DF: So Mark, how did it feel to slip on such an iconic costume? And literally, how did it feel?

MARK: I would liken putting on the costume to a male equivalent of Cinderella’s slipper. It was such a surreal experience that unfortunately my mind has very fuzzy recollection. Just as the brain dampens horrific experiences, it also does that to those that seem too good to be real. I wish it didn’t, but that’s biology at work. It wasn’t scratchy at all. The opposite in fact. It smelt musty or musky but then that’s to be expected and I did not care, it was so amazing. 

DF: What were you told before putting the most iconic sci-fi suit in history on?

MARK: You have to know I was so very nervous. Don Bies allowed me to TRY on the suit but warned me VERY CLEARLY that should I not fit the gray flight suit I would not be able to be Boba. Them’s high stakes… Especially after all the times I’d tried on clothes I liked at the clothes store only to find I didn’t fit them at all…

DF: Do you have any favourite shots of you in the suit?

MARK: Sure.

Boba Fett and Mark Austin
Austin gets suited up for Boba Fett. Source: Mark Austin

DF: Could you actually see through the visor? What were you looking at? And how heavy was the gun prop?

MARK: The view through the visor was limited and it steamed up. Mainly because it was chilly in the stage. It kept fogging up. The suit was soft. The bracers hung heavy and made rings about my wrists that lasted days. The jetpack was also heavy and I had shoulder lines that lasted as long as those on my wrists.

I had tiny pieces of tape designating my start position and end position (for the first of the two shots where I entered screen right). Far to my right was a piece of masking tape showing Harrison’s eye-line. I had to start and stop at the set marks whilst looking to Harrison’s eye-line the whole time.

Holding the gun comfortably presented an unclear silhouette from the angle I was walking in. Steve asked me to hold it at an awkward angle giving a better read on it in camera. The thing is the awkward angle made walking naturally that much harder. The gun was a nice decent weight but not really heavy.

The afternoon shoot was more complex with start position, pause to scan docking bay and end position. My eyes scanned but the helmet T appeared to look into camera. If you could see my eyes you’d see me looking to the side but George loved it.

DF: And what were the cast like?

My role was blue screen. I met some cast briefly after but this is all I saw… A large sheet of blue. 

Boba Fett Blue Screen
Mark Austin on the blue screen as Boba Fett. Source: Mark Austin

DF: So, a pretty eventful day for you? Do many compete with that?

MARK: On the whole it was the most amazing surreal magical moment of my life and here’s that moment captured in s Polaroid taken by the head of the Archives, Don Bies.

Boba Fett photograph
A still of Mark Austin as Boba Fett. Source: Mark Austin

DF: Mark, congratulations on an awesome career, and thanks so much for your time and sharing that with us at Digital Fox.

MARK: No problem, thanks for doc-ing it.

Well, that’s one off the bucket list for me.

Mark was such a top guy, and a lovely person to chat to. I can’t think of anyone more deserving to wander alongside the Millenium Falcon.

 

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