By MARK J. GROSS
With blaster in hand, jetpack on his back and way too many tricks up his sleeve, the famous bounty hunter, Boba Fett, of the Star Wars universe, has taken the case.
I have gotten to meet and interview the actor behind the mask of Boba Fett, Jeremy Bulloch, numerous times over the years. He has always been very friendly, sharing lots of stories, and he’s animated about them. A regular at many conventions to meet and sign for fans, Bulloch also loves to speak onstage, and he’ll get young people involved with him.
A few years ago I videotaped Bulloch seeking volunteers from the audience to help him with a Boba Fett project. He had his Boba Fett helmet and laser rifle on the stage, and called for about 15 young fans to help act out a scene. The scene was from The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader puts Han Solo in carbonite, and Boba Fett is worried Han Solo will die.
Boba Fett is the favored bounty hunter among Star Wars fans with a huge following. I have seen so many Boba Fett items that fans have gotten signed by Bulloch, not to mention costumes, tattoos and more. An empire of media and memorabilia revolves around the Boba Fett character, who made his debut in The Empire Strikes Back, and returned to an unfortunate demise in Return of the Jedi.
Bulloch appeared in 2005’s Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, but not as Boba Fett—he played Captain Colton. Recently, I interviewed Bulloch at the October 24-26, 2008 Chiller Theatre Convention in Parsippany, N.J.
Mark Gross: How did you begin acting?
Jeremy Bulloch: I began in drama school at age 12, actually because I failed an exam to get into sports. I really don’t remember why I went toward drama school, but I had a very good career as a young actor, from children’s films to a soap opera I did for years, musicals, and then suddenly, this Boba Fett role came along. It wasn’t a very big part—he only says four lines in the whole film. But there’s an old saying, “There’s no such thing as a small part.” So however you do it, if you have one word, and you play it well—there you have it.
Did you know what role you were trying for when you auditioned?
I knew it was the part of a bounty hunter, but I could have got the part of any bounty hunter, Zuckuss, Dengar, any of them. The actual interview was gentle and it was interesting trying on the suit—he told me to walk in it.
When you say “he,” do you mean George Lucas?
Yes, and George could have hired a stuntman to play this role, but he really wanted an actor to play him because there were a lot of bits where I had to hit marks without being able to see, so you count them off in your head. Then you know to lean to the left, or pull your shoulders back. And, before I even started the film, someone had shown me the Boba Fett character figure with that costume. It looked great—there was something about the outfit, and it looked like a good character.
What projects do you have coming up?
Well, when I get home back to England, they are going to be showing six episodes of a series I did called Starhyke, which is a crazy show where I played a doctor who is completely insane—you would never send anyone to him to be cured. I am curious to see what channel is going to pick it up. We actually finished it almost three years ago, and they’ve been trying to really push it there. It was low budget, but really fun to do. You have to be positive, so if it doesn’t make it to a major channel and goes straight to DVD, then so be it! Also, I just finished a series for the BBC called Bonekickers, and it should hit the United States in maybe about eight months.
You were also in two serials for the BBC sci-fi show, Doctor Who, in the 1960s and ’70s.
Yes. Actually, I just did an audio book for Doctor Who. I had to do all the voices. It was quite difficult to do all those voices because it was non-stop speaking. I’ll suddenly have to change over to the woman’s voice, and they’ll say, “Cut, your voice sounded too much like a man that time.” So it is quite intense.
What do you think of your fan base and signing autographs for them?
Fans are absolutely terrific. And when young kids come up, they don’t know what to say, so I have to put them at ease very quickly.
Tell me about your book Flying Solo? [A lighthearted autobiography, interspersed with stories of attending conventions.]
I put a lot into Flying Solo, which is signed and limited to just 2,000 copies—it’s really a collector’s item. I have also been giving thought about doing another book, which I might think about for next year.
Do you collect anything yourself?
I actually collect Boba Fett stuff.
Who would you want an autograph from?
Well, Gene Hackman, Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood, Halle Berry—people like that.
You have your work cut out for you doing voices, as well as acting and writing.
And I can fire a bow and arrow, too.
Just remember, if you ever have a price on your head, beware of that clever bounty hunter Boba Fett. He will catch you eventually, but not kill you, because as he said to Darth Vader “He’s no good to me dead!” May the force be with you!