Back in 1979, I was a freelance chauffeur – and I got the job of running an actor (I cannot remember his name) to Elstree Film Studios. He said he would be a couple of hours, so I could have a wander round if I liked, provided I stayed out of trouble.
And thus it was that I met Luke Skywalker, R2-D2 – and stood on a Star Wars flight deck.
But these experiences meant NOTHING to me. You see, I have never been a Star Wars fan. The movies were made for KIDS – and when the first one came out, I was 25.
Star TREK is the franchise I have followed. It was always about the WRITING – and was made for GROWN-UPS. Star Wars is simply a part of the Seventies craze for remaking vintage Saturday-morning-movies, with huge budgets and state-of-the-art special effects.
It produced the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series – and good fun they were too. But I only watched the three original Star Wars movies for the SFX. In those days, they were in 70mm and looked FANTASTIC.
But as for the plots and characters – who cared if Darth Vader was Luke’s dad? Or if Jabber lived in a hut? Not me, that’s for sure.
So while my wander around Elstree took in the studio tank and various other facilities – the fact they were in the process of shooting Star Wars’ sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, did not concern me at all.
And so as I passed the models shop, the (unpainted) clay model of R2-D2 was only of slight interest.
Little did I realise that nearly half-a-century later, Star Wars would STILL be so HUGE. If I HAD known, since there was no-one about, I would have popped R2-D2 into the boot of my car and today the little pedal-bin would be worth a FORTUNE (although I might have a few problems with the provenance – given it would have been STOLEN).
And as I stood on the flight deck of one of the spacecraft (I recognised it in the finished movie) I merely reflected that without the SFX that would later be visible through its empty windows – it was less than impressive.
Then I bumped into Mark Hamill. Nice guy. We spoke about nothing in particular. He told me the shooting had been going on for months and there were several more months to go – and he was finding the whole thing monumentally tedious. The weather in England was better than the first week of production, when they had filmed in Norway, during a blizzard – but he was missing California.
I made sympathetic noises and then someone called him away. “Well, here we go again,” he said.
And that’s it, really.
Of course, I now know that there are hundreds of thousands – perhaps MILLIONS – of fanatical fans who, reading this, would WET themselves with frustration. Sheldon Cooper would be livid.
You TALKED to Luke Skywalker, while he was filming The Empire Strikes Back? You could have PINCHED R2-D2? You STOOD on a classic Star Wars set? Yep.
Just the fact I saw all three of the original Star Wars movies in 70mm, while today’s fans have to make do with watching them in cropped, 35mm scope – would be cause for envy.
But there it is. It all meant little to me. If I could take people back with me in a time machine, I would. The whole thing was WASTED on me. But then, I never asked for it – or sought it out. It just HAPPENED, was all.