Welcome to The Unmasked Series, an all new feature here on D’Ment’D Cinema. In each installment of this series, we’ll take a look at some of the greatest masked characters cinema (and televsion) history. Each edition will have a different theme, from horror monsters to slashers, from Star Wars to Star Trek and beyond.
In this, the first installment of The Unmasked Series, we’ll be examining some of the masked marvels of George Lucas’ Star Wars!
4-LOM, the droid bounty hunter first seen in Empire Strikes Back was originally misidentified by Kenner, the toy company that produced the Star Wars line of action figures and accessories. Kenner accidentally swapped names with 4-LOM, the droid bounty hunter, and the beige bounty hunter known as Zuckuss. The name 4-LOM was actually the creation of Kenner. Lucasfilm gave Kenner the honor of naming the character. Their choice, 4-LOM, which stands for “4 (the) Love Of Money”, a nod to the cash cow that was Star Wars merchandising.
Chris Parsons, the actor hired as a stand-in for characters such as C-3PO, was tapped to wear the 4-LOM costume in the fan favorite “bounty hunter scene” in ESB.
Admiral Ackbar has taken on another life thanks to his most memorable line in Return Of The Jedi. “It’s a trap” has been parodied on such TV shows as Family Guy and Robot Chicken. A simply internet image search will turn up countless results of images of Ackbar with the phrase emblazoned upon them.
Actor, puppeteer and special FX artist Tim Rose, who maned the proverbial strings for many of the denizens of Jabba The Hutt’s palace in Return Of The Jedi including the original version of Sy Snootles as well as that annoying little Kowakian monkey-lizard Salacious Crumb, was the man behind the Admiral Ackbar mask.
Barada, one of Jabba The Hutt’s many guards, met his demise when Jabba made the mistake of trying to execute Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Chewbacca by forcing them into the awaiting jaws of the almight Sarlaac, which had been “planted” out in the Dune Sea where it was used by the intergalactic gangster as a means to rid himself of his foes.
Stuntman Dickey Beer was the man who brought Barada to life. Beer played a number of other roles in the Return Of The Jedi. We’ll touch on one of the other roles he played shortly. Beer was credited as “Dirk Yohan Beer” in the film.
Bib Fortuna, a Twi’lek, was Jabba The Hutt’s right hand man, doing anything that his master commanded. Although Bib served Jabba for a long time, he truly hated the Hutt and actually tried, unsuccessfully, to have his master killed on a number of occasions.
Scottish actor Michael Carter played Jabba The Hutt’s majordomo, Bib Fortuna. He was cast as “Bib Fortuna” in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi after casting director Mary Selway saw him appearing in the play “The Streets of London” in 1981.
Boba Fett, arguably the most notorious bounty hunter in the galaxy has garnered a massive following but he’s also split Star Wars fans right down the middle. While many fans do in fact view Fett as the most bad ass bounty hunter ever, others see him as little more than a clever tracker who, when push came to shove, failed miserably during the battle with Skywalker, Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian as the heroes fought to escape a long, painful and certain death inside the belly of the Sarlaac.
English actor Jeremy Bulloch portrayed Boba Fett in both Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi but he was not the only actor to play Fett. As a matter of fact, he did not play the notorious bounty hunter in one of ROTJ’s most well known scenes….
During the battle above the Sarlaac, it was NOT Jeremy Bulloch in the Boba Fett get up….
That honor belonged to stuntman Dickey Beer, who as we’ve already discussed here, played Barada in the same scene. Although he is only credited with playing Barada, Dicky actually played 7 characters in Return Of The Jedi including the aforementioned Barada and Boba Fett as well as a stormtrooper, biker scout and Weequay among others.
Another bounty hunter in Empire Strikes Back’s gathering of the bounty hunters scene was fan favorite Bossk. Bossk, whose name means “Devours His Prey” in Dosh, was a Trandoshan bounty hunter and the pilot of the Hound’s Tooth. He also held the title of monarch of the Qotile system. He was not particularly fond of Chewbacca and his Human partner Han Solo. He would face them several times, and would be one of the six bounty hunters Darth Vader hired to track down and capture the Millennium Falcon.
Actor Alan Harris, who like Chris Parsons was also a stand-in for Anthony Daniels/C-3PO, was chosen to don the outfit of the lizard-like bounty hunter Bossk in Empire Strikes Back. Harris also worked on A New Hope and Return Of The Jedi as well as Nightbreed and Hellraiser, where he once again served as a stand-in.
Darth Vader. Dark Lord of the Sith. Formerly known as Anakin Skywalker. Vader was a bad ass before being a bad ass was cool. Although his look may have changed slightly between A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, a few things never changed; Vader never relented in his search for the rebels until his death, actor James Earl Jones provided his voice in all three of the original films, and the same actor donned the suit, cape and mask in all three films…
Actor and Bristol, UK native David Prowse portrayed Vader in all three OT films. Prior to A New Hope, Prowse was a regular star in many popular cinematic and television productions including Casino Royale (1967), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Doctor Who (1972), Benny Hill (1974), Hammer’s Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Space 1999 (1977) and Jabberwocky (1977).
The Gamorrean Guards, those pig-like heavies that protected Jabba The Hutt and his palace sure moved slow, but that’s only because they didn’t have to move fast. Well, that and they weren’t exactly built for speed. They were built for brawn and power. And they knew how to throw their weight around, which allowed for them to easily dominate and control their foes.
One of the numerous actors to slip into the rather heavy and bulky Gamorrean Guard outfits was Les Conrad. Mr. Conrad played a number of different characters including the Gamorrean Guard as well as a rebel soldier on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back and a Stormtrooper.
Gardinan was a Kubaz spy working for the Empire. In A New Hope, Garindan can be seen snitching on the whereabouts of the droids to the Imperial Stormtroopers vid a comlink. He was considered the greatest spy in all of Mos Eisley. Garindan’s information was priceless, and his skills went to the highest bidder, whether it be to Jabba the Hutt (who was wary of Garindan finding out too much about Jabba’s business transactions) or to the Imperials.
English stuntwoman Sadie Eden was a regular stunt performer for the James Bond films before she was cast to portray a duo of roles in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. One of the two roles she played was that of Garindan, the spy who ratted out the heroes as they attempted to flee from Mos Eisley Spaceport.
The Rodian bounty hunter known as Greedo was the son of son of Greedo the Elder. Greedo grew up on Tatooine with his childhood friend Anakin Skywalker. (A young Greedo can be seen in Episode I: The Phantom Menace) Greedo was working for Jabba The Hutt on the fateful day when he finally located the wanted Han Solo in Chalmun’s Cantina as seen in A New Hope. Poor Greedo never saw it coming when he was killed by Han Solo. Greedo NEVER GOT A SHOT OFF before being shot and killed by Solo.
Greedo was played by two performers, while his voice was provided by yet another actor. Maria de Aragon played Greedo in a number of close-in pickup shots in A New Hope.
Birmingham, UK native Paul Blake portrayed Greedo in the majority of the scenes in A New Hope. Voice actor Larry Ward provided the voice for Greedo as well as the voice of Jabba The Hutt in Return Of The Jedi.
Logray was the head shaman for the Ewok tribe who lived in Bright Tree Village. He was tall for an Ewok, with tan-striped fur. Logray often wore a headdress decorated with feathers, beads, and a large churi bird skull. He carried a staff decorated with the spinal bones of a defeated enemy.
Logray the Ewok shaman was played by veteran actor Mike Edmonds, who had previously appeared in Empire Strikes Back and who would also serve as the puppeteer inside of Jabba The Hutt. Edmonds controlled Jabba’s tail.
One of the lesser known Mos Eisley residents was Mosep Binneed. Lesser known because Kenner/Hasbro has never made an action figure of him. Mosep Binneed was a Nimbanel accountant who served Jabba The Hutt. Like most of his species, Binneed entered a bureaucratic profession and worked for the Hutts, eventually ending up on Tatooine during the early Galactic Civil War. Operating out of Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine in the Outer Rim, Binneed managed the finances of crime lord Jabba the Hutt to the best of his efforts, along with a number of other accountants, many of whom were also Nimbanese.
Mosep Binneed was played by actress Annette Jones.
Nien Nunb was a Sullustan smuggler. He grew up in the caves of his homeworld, Sullust, with his sister, Aril Nunb. Later, he worked for the SoroSuub Corporation as a smuggler. During one of his smuggling flights, he befriended Lando Calrissian—an individual Nunb would have great deals with in later years. It was with Calrissian that he would copilot the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor. He went on to become the administrator of the Kessel spice mines, and sporadically worked with the New Republic and its successor, the Galactic Alliance.
Nien Nunb was portrayed by English actor and stuntman Richard Bonehill. Bonehill played several different roles in Empire Stikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, some with his face exposed, such as a rebel soldier in ESB, while others, like Nunb, left his face hidden under a cumbersome mask.
Ree Yees was a Gran from Kinyen. He suffered from a recessive genetic mutation, uncommon among Gran, which caused his hands to be deformed. Ree-Yees enjoyed visiting other planets via Star Tours, and often brought his custom three eyed camera to take pictures, despite flash photography not being allowed.
Ree-Yees was convicted of murder on Kinyen, and was in hiding on Tatooine as a member of Jabba Desilijic Tiure’s court. He was an alcoholic, and was often seen associating with Tessek. Ree-Yees was assigned the task of taking care of Jabba’s Frog-Dog pet Bubo.
The distrustful Jabba had a short-range bomb implanted in him. When Jabba said a certain phrase, the bomb would explode, killing Ree-Yees and any one next to him. This bomb could be used to kill an assassin, or if Ree-Yees himself was planning to kill Jabba (as he was).
Ree Yees was another character played by the aforementioned Richard Bonehill. Other characters played by Mr. Bonehill include a Mon Calamari officer, a stormtrooper and a snowtrooper. Away from the silver screen, Bonehill is also a champion fencer.
Reegesk was a Ranat scavenger and experienced thief from Aralia, known as a fair trader. He regularly traded with Jawas such as Het Nkik. Reegesk was not picky, and was willing to steal anything, even trash. His tribe needed power for their bootleg vaporator unit, so he went into Mos Eisley to look for a power source. He attempted to trade a sand people battle idol to Nkik in Chalmun’s Cantina, during which he quietly stole the power source of Nkik’s Blastech DL-44 for use with his tribe’s vaporator, leading to the death of Nkik, not knowing his gun had no power during a shootout with stormtroopers.
Reegesk was played by stuntwoman Sadie Eden, who also played Garindan in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
The Saurin were a Trandoshan subspecies who hailed from the planet Durkteel, in the Kastolar sector of the Kashyyyk Region. Reptilian like the mainline Trandoshans of Trandosha, the Saurin shared knobby, scaly skin; broad, flat noses; wide, gaping mouths; and sharp, jagged teeth with their cousins. In contrast, however, the Saurin had five-fingered hands instead of the Trandoshans’ three digits (plus opposable thumb). A Saurin can be seen in the Cantina in A New Hope as well as in Return Of The Jedi.
English actor Laurie Goode was born in Windsor not long after WW2. His parents came from Hackney, East London, but moved out of the area during the Blitz; having been made homeless twice. Laurie played the Saurin seem in the Cantina in A New Hope. Rumor also has it that Laurie played a few other random roles in the film, possibly including a rebel soldier and a stormtrooper.
Tessek was a Quarren male from the water planet of Mon Calamari. He once had ties with Republic politics, but when the Galactic Empire invaded his home planet, he fled and became a member of Jabba Desilijic Tiure’s court. While serving as the Hutt’s accountant, Tessek planned to kill his master by planting a bomb on his sail barge. Tessek managed to survive the Battle of the Great Pit of Carkoon after escaping on a speeder bike—however, when he returned to Jabba’s Palace, his brain was forcibly removed from his body by the B’omarr Monks.
Irish-born mime artist and actor Gerald Home played Tessek in Return Of The Jedi. Home, who was born in Belfast but later moved to Australia (at age 16), also played one of Admiral Ackbar’s Mon Calamari soldiers in the film. Gerald also worked as a puppeteer in 1986’s Little Shop Of Horrors remake.
The cloud city of Bespin, as seen in Empire Strikes Back, was home to a large number of Ugnaughts. The Ugnaughts were porcine, or pig-like, humanoids with slightly upturned noses from the planet Gentes. Compared to baseline humans, their height would be considered short or dwarfed. Ugnaughts were industrious and loyal workers and also had a rich oral tradition. They were quite hardy, able to withstand long periods of discomfort, and lived to around two hundred years of age.
Mike Edmonds, who, as we’ve already discussed, played Logray the Ewok shaman and who controlled the tail puppetry of Jabba The Hutt, was also tapped to play one of the Ugnaughts who worked for Lando Calrissian in the cloud city of Bespin.
J’Quille was a Whiphid hunter in Jabba Desilijic Tiure’s court. He was a former lover of Lady Valarian and secretly worked as a spy for her in Jabba’s presence. He was heavily prone to paranoia. He was also known be a great fighter because of his hunting skills.
Mime artist and musician Tim Dry, who studied Mime and Physical Theatre with Desmond Jones for four years, and also worked with Lindsay Kemp (Kemp was tutor to David Bowie and Kate Bush), played J’Quille the Whiphid in Return Of The Jedi. In 1980, a few years prior to his working for Lucasfilm in ROTJ, Tim formed a rock/mime/burlesque/music troupe named Shock. Tim also appeared in Xtro and In Dreams.
Saelt-Marae, who is also known as Yak Face thanks to Kenner’s action figure line, was a long-lived Yarkora confidence trickster and information broker who lived for several centuries during the waning days of the Old Republic and the reign of Emperor Palpatine. Marae kept details surrounding himself secret, so little was known about his early life. Later in life he went to work for Jabba The Hutt, outwardly posing as a harmless merchant while really acting as an informant for Jabba. He ingratiated himself with the Hutt’s various employees, gaining their trust and learning of any plots against Jabba. For his part, Marae was handsomely paid. When Jabba was killed at the Great Pit of Carkoon in 4 ABY, Saelt-Marae stole many of his secret financial records and disappeared.
Mime artist and puppeteer Sean Crawford portrayed Saelt-Marae, aka Yak Face, in Return Of The Jedi. Crawford was also half of robotic mime & music duo Tik and Tok, along with fellow Return Of The Jedi co-star Tim Dr. They began performing together with SHOCK: a rock/mime/burlesque/music troupe in the early 1980’s with Barbie Wilde, Robert Pereno, LA Richards and Carole Caplin. Just like his band mate Dry, Crawford also appeared in the cult horror/sci-fi film Xtro.
Zuckuss was a Gand bounty hunter known for his uncanny ability to find his charge. Referred to as “The Uncanny One” by his fellow hunters, Zuckuss was renowned for his ability to discover hidden quarry. His tracking skills derived both from his training as a findsman and from his innate Force-sensitivity, which allowed him to sense individuals at range and decipher the motives of his prey.
Actress Cathy Monroe (Sometimes spelled Monro) played a number of different roles in Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back including protocol droid E-3PO and the famed Gand bounty hunter Zuckuss.
That brings this, the inaugural edition of The UNMASKED Series to a close but check back soon for the next installment in the series. Future editions include Horror Slashers, Horror Monsters, Star Trek, pro wrestling and much more.