Actor Jeremy Bulloch helped create the icon of an ‘Empire’Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Boba Fett. The most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. A ruthless killing machine who towers over his scenes in “The Empire Strikes Back” with unquestionable presence and power.
Jeremy Bulloch. A British actor who has appeared on stage, screen and television for more than half a century. One of the most gracious and kind men you’d ever want to talk to, a man who treats his fans with generosity and warmth.
And he has many fans, to be sure. For Bulloch and Boba are one and the same.
The 65-year-old actor made his debut in the famous suit 30 years ago, though in a recent interview, he insisted his contribution to the character’s iconic look was little more than a happy accident of tailoring. “I think I’m just very lucky to have been part of it, and I happened to fit the costume rather well. Almost as if a tailor had been over for three weeks. But I put the one outfit that there was, and I put that on, and it fit me like a dream. So I think I was a winner right from the start.”
Bulloch has sold his own contributions short, of course. But the man is incredibly humble. A conversation with him reveals a genuinely kind individual, one who treats his association with a cultural icon like “Star Wars” as a privilege.
And it’s an icon that will see a great deal of activity in this, the 30th anniversary of “Empire.” Bulloch’s schedule is full of visits to conventions and celebrations, including a mid-May stop at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Mich., followed by a month of hosting “Star Wars” weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.
Bulloch’s presence on the convention circuit has increased in recent years, with the “Empire” anniversary’s approach and a cameo appearance in “Revenge of the Sith” spurring an increase of interest. And Boba Fett has remained one of the most popular characters in the “Star Wars” universe since his debut, despite relatively short screen time. Why?
“I tend to say different things to different people, because there are actually different reasons. No. 1, the costume looks fantastic. Already, Boba Fett is sort of a war machine. And he stands there with his gun. He’s very good at what he does. And he captures Han Solo! Easily! But Han Solo comes back, because the hero has to — but he gets respect from that. He answers Darth Vader back, and of course, not a lot of people do that and get away with their life. He doesn’t care.
“And I think he’s very fair in the way he treats people. He’ll say, ‘I’m gonna kill you.’ And he’ll almost tell you the time. At least he’s letting you know!”
Bulloch said guidance about the character was somewhat sparse on the set of “Empire,” though he said that Irwin Kirshner was a “lovely director.”
“I think you put a lot of your own stuff in, because otherwise you’d be a mannequin. And they’d say, ‘Oh, let’s get this guy and just stand there, will you?’ Yes, you take direction, and just stand there, but you put a lot of your own stuff in. Because otherwise, people — my wife would say, ‘How was it today?’ ‘Oh, I just stood there.’ ‘All day?’ ‘Yes, all day. I just stood there.’ And occasionally, the director would come up, ‘Oh, yes, you’re good Jeremy.’”
Though the character is enormously popular, Fett meets a rather anticlimactic demise in “Return of the Jedi” — knocked into the deadly Sarlacc pit almost by accident. What was Bulloch’s impression when he read the script?
“There was no impression at all, because I never had a script. I mean, it was really — the few lines I had didn’t really it was probably a waste of paper,” he joked. “With something like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ or ‘Return of the Jedi,’ it’s quite nice not to know what’s going to happen.
“So, it was quite a bit later on that I found out that I was going into the pit, which was really disappointing. I was hoping I’d be on (the film) for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
Still, Bulloch insisted it’s important for people to not feel too sorry for Boba. As far as he’s concerned, the story had a happy ending — for himself and his famous alter-ego.
“More people talk about ‘Star Wars’ than probably any other group of films,” he said. “And they talk about that particular scene, going into the Sarlacc pit. And they say, ‘You get out, don’t you, Mr. Bulloch?’ And I say, ‘Oh, of course! I’d stay down there for six months, to get money out of other bounty hunters in the Sarlacc pit, and I’d opened a Hooters bar’.”