Jeremy Bulloch: The Man, The Mandalorian
Han Solo will definitely shoot first, and Darth Vader will straight up choke you like an angry pimp, but when it comes to cosmic badassery the first name in your lexicon of scum and villainy should be Boba Fett. Sure he may have said barely enough words to fill out a haiku, but who needs dialogue when you can conduct entire soliloquies with a twitch of your trigger-finger? And yeah, he may have died a death worthy of The Three Stooges, but when Han Solo struck him down, he became more popular than you could possibly imagine.
So it is with no small amount of awe that I pick up the phone to Jeremy Bulloch, the man who first donned the Mandalorian armor and breathed life into the universe’s most notorious bounty hunter. The voice that greets me isn’t the rusty-nail-gargling baritone I’m subconsciously expecting. It’s the polished rounded roll of a British theatre actor, a voice I could quite easily imagine battle-rapping with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart…
Man Cave Daily: How did you come to be involved with Star Wars?
Jeremy Bulloch: It’s funny because the first film, A New Hope, I wasn’t involved with, but I remember going to see it and thinking “Wow. That is just incredible. What an opening to a film.” An unusual film, but very exciting. And then some months later my half-brother Robert Watts who was an associate producer on it, said “You ought to get your agent on to it. There’s nothing much there, just a couple of things. There’s this part– it’s barely two days work.”
I was in theatre at the time so I told him I probably wouldn’t be able to do it. But they were very good and said they’d let me go early on certain days if I needed to. It worked out really well and I fitted the costume really well, and it just went on from there.
MCD: Were you always going to be Boba Fett? Because you appeared as an Imperial Officer as well…
JB: I appeared as the officer second to playing Boba Fett. That was just how people worked, they asked if I could do a quick costume change because they needed somebody, they didn’t have anybody available, and I ended up for most of the day doing that one sequence with Carrie Fisher.
MCD: Did you ever think Boba Fett would gain such massive a following?
JB: No. Absolutely not. I remember coming onto the set for the first time and meeting George Lucas, I was fully dressed and the costume fitted like a glove, and I was being sort of turned around like a mannequin, and George said “Well, yeah, fine. Welcome aboard. It’s not a big role but I think you’ll have fun.” And that’s exactly what it was: a lot of fun.
MCD: And was it a tough part to play?
JB: Extremely hot and uncomfortable, but… a lot friends of mine were also in it as Imperial Officers, a lot British actors, and we used to love those lovely early morning calls, you know five, five-thirty am. There’d be Michael Carter as Bib Fortuna with that extraordinary makeup that would take four and a half hours. Well, I used to come in and say “I’ll get you a cup of tea Michael, because all I have to do is this…” and then put my helmet on. So, yes, I had enormous fun just being with different friends from the acting world. Terrific.
MCD: You must get a lot of interest from the sci-fi conventions?
JB: Yes, I’ve been terribly lucky that I’ve been asked to appear literally all over the world. People will say “Can we get hold of the guy who played Boba Fett?” Well, obviously there’s other people who have been Boba Fett, there’s the stunts, and the stand ins, so I used to say “I feel a bit of a fraud,” but the lovely reactions from fans is “No, you are Boba Fett”.
MCD: How does it feel to be a part of a franchise that means so much to so many people?
JB: I think it’s incredible, because somehow–because it’s so big and the character is so extremely popular–you can actually help an awful lot of people, and over the years I have, just by giving time. This franchise is quite extraordinary, it’s just gone on and on, and now we hear they’re going to make three more…
MCD: And what was your reaction when you heard that Disney had bought Lucasfilm?
JB: I remember hearing and thinking it’s a very good idea, because Disney have done some terrific stuff recently. And of course, they have the Star Wars Weekends, May and June for four weeks, and I’ve been every year for nearly twelve years and it’s great to be part of that. Disney have got some great writers, and I think this will be terrific. It will inject something new and–providing they don’t go too barmy–I think it will be a very good thing now that Disney are involved.
MCD: And with Episode Seven firmly on the horizon there’s already a lot of Internet buzz about whether or not Boba Fett could make a comeback…
JB: In a way he could. My dream was that, in Return of the Jedi–right at the end of the film when you see all the Ewoks dancing and the music playing and it seems to go on for ever–my feeling was that, as this is all going on, the camera zooms to a bush and you see the glint of Boba Fett’s helmet, and he’s back. That would have been an ideal ending to take us into another episode, that he’s resurrected somehow. I think that he would come back.
MCD: You made a brief cameo in Revenge of the Sith, are you hoping for a similar opportunity in Episode Seven?
JB: Yes,(laughs) I did Revenge of the Sith. I was called back and they said “It’s not much, Jeremy, its barely a day.” And it was just a few lines, but it was fun to be back with that. It would be lovely to be asked back to play… well, to play Boba Fett. I’m still fit enough to do the running around. Or perhaps as a sort of veteran bounty hunter. You never know. I’ve found, being an actor for so many years, you never know what’s going to happen. You go for an interview and they’ll say “Sorry, Jeremy” but then two weeks later the phone will ring and they’ll say they’ve changed their minds and would love to have you. That’s what keeps actors going–you never know.
MCD: You’ve been presented with a few fan-made gifts over the years– you must have quite the Boba Fett museum by now?
JB: I do have a sort of museum–It’s not as big as people make it out to be. I have this costume that is absolutely awesome. It’s so light! That’s the difference, today you can produce a wonderful lightweight outfit, whereas in the beginning when I wore the costume it was heavy and awful and would cut into your neck, your groin, under your arm. It was so uncomfortable. But this suit, they took measurements and everything and it’s wonderful.
MCD: If I had a Boba Fett suit I’d probably wear it to go grocery shopping. Do you ever…?
JB: I have worn it out a couple of time for charity, taking a charity bucket around and saying “Put some money in here or you will be destroyed,” or something. Some people just thought I was a lunatic. But that was just giving something back.
MCD: I saw the costume photos online– you have some pretty dedicated fans, it seems.
We got together with The Dented Helmet–who make all these costumes– in Dallas a few years ago, and I presented them with a little glass plaque etched with my signature saying thanks to everybody in The Fett Project. They had twenty-six people involved, all working on the different parts, the weapons, and coloring and the shoes and such. There was a wonderful party and it was a chance to say thanks to all those involved. So Boba Fett has brought an awful lot to me. I’ve met so many people over the years and had some terrific times, I really have.
I wrap up the conversation, leaving Jeremy to return to his grandchildren (I can’t help imagine helmeted, jet pack-wearing toddlers.) For now there’s no indication that Boba Fett will make a miraculous return in Episode Seven, but with the sheer scale of interest in the character, it honestly wouldn’t surprise me. The original Boba Fett may have made his final appearance decades ago, but in the world of Jeremy Bulloch, and in the world of his countless diehard fans, he remains the biggest small part in movie history.
Steve Stevenson wanted to be Boba Fett when he grew up, but in a cruel twist of fate he grew to be a Sarlacc instead. You can follow him on twitter, goddamn it.
If you’re hungry for more Star Wars speculation, you can read Blake Northcott’s 5 Reasons Star Wars Fans Should Trust Disney, or check out the time Steve dug up Star Wars art you’ve never seen in Mondo So Far…So Good.