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There were six of us who helped Stuart Freeborn create the characters for the main unit shoot of the Cantina sequence, filmed at EMI Studios England in late 1974.
Graham Freeborn - Stuart's son, who modeled many of the creatures. Graham was the mainstay of Stuart's team, constantly creating new things in short time frames. His ideology was "simple, quick and effective" He modeled many of the creatures and applied the prosthetics to Dr Evazan, the Ugly who fought with Luke and Obi Wan. He was a great friend but he died too young and never received the attention that he deserved.
Charles (Charlie) Parker - A legend in his own right, renowned for his artistry, Charlie was also a composer and screenwriter. He contributed to numerous effects movies including the incredible work on A MAN CALLED HORSE (which he designed) and 2001 (where he was involved with the creation of the apes). Charlie joined STARWARS to model the Uglies prosthetics and he applied them to Wuher, the Barman.
Chris Tucker - Who later went on to acclaim with ELEPHANT MAN and COMPANY OF WOLVES. If I remember correctly, Chris started out at Madam Tussaurd's Wax Museum in London. Although we got our union cards on the same day Chris was 10 years or so older. He somehow got away with assuming an air of superiority (in a good humored fashion) and always called me "Young Nick". His passion was prosthetics (and opera) and he quickly established a MFX studio supplying pieces (prosthetics) to film and television companies. On STAR WARS he created Ponda Baba, that weird looking character who starts the quarrel with Luke (which had no name at the time) and the ill fated praying mantis creature. Chris is very tall and I remember he paid a lot of attention to the attractive alien ladies on the left.... who were both over 6'.
Kay Freeborn - Stuart's long suffering wife, (its not easy to live with us MFX guys, we all have obsessive personalities). Kay flitted between the set and the workshop. Most of her duties were with the preparation of the actors and being on "stand by" but her presence was always felt in the workshop too, (and she expertly executed the most important task of all......... Making sure Start got his lunch!) More photos
Sylvia Croft - Who helped make teeth and assemble items when she wasn't needed on the set.
And me, Nick Maley. - This was my first big Creature Effects movie. I worked with Graham in the foam lab and eventually took over most of the foam latex work. I made vacuum formed eyes for many heads, modeled hands and applied the prosthetics to Dannik Jerriko, (my first on screen prosthetics), the Ugly with the bubble pipe. I also worked with Graham making molds, artworked many creatures, and from time to time helped Stuart with the construction of Chewbacca.
This wide angle shot (known as a master shot) shows many of the characters we created for the main unit shoot.
In the light of the huge success of Star Wars it's hard to believe that they only allowed us 12 weeks to prepare for the Cantina sequence. During that time Stuart was deeply involved with creating the Chewbacca mask (which was designed utilizing unique principles derived from the 2001 apes) so the weight of the task fell on the rest of us. You have to remember that Star Wars was just another movie until it became STAR WARS and it wasn't until the film was being edited in post production that the backer's realized they had a blockbuster on their hands. Then they released extra cash to allow for inserts to be added to the sequence. In the USA, (when main unit shooting was complete), a young sidekick of the great Dick Smith had recently started his own MFX house and was hired to make the additional for second unit creatures. His name was Rick Baker.
Click here if you want to know who played what.
You shound also check out the background to the creation of the Star Wars caracters.
text © CineSecrets 97/98
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