Like many actors before him, Jeremy Bulloch is best known for playing one particular role. Unlike many actors before him, Jeremy Bulloch is best known for playing Boba Fett, the most popular supporting character from the original Star Wars trilogy. With Star Wars: The Complete Saga coming out on Blu-Ray this week we took some time to talk to the famed actor about the history of Boba Fett and his earlier work in such classic films as A Night to Remember (the original, better “Titanic” movie) and the Malcolm McDowell cult classic O Lucky Man! It’s been a fantastic career for a fantastic man, which leads us neatly into my first question…
CraveOnline: How fantastic are you?
Jeremy Bulloch: [Laughs.] I’ve been terribly lucky, because I’ve had a very good career from theater, television, film, musicals – even though I’m not a dancer or singer, somehow I got cast in one in Spain – but I think I’ve been terribly lucky. You still have to put the work in, but to get this part, this small part as Boba Fett the bounty hunter, has been remarkable because every day people talk to me about it and say, “Wow, you played Boba Fett! How did you get the part?” And then you just say, well, it’s luck […]
Did they ever hint to you, when they gave you the part, that this would be the coolest role in the whole franchise?
No. I think the funniest thing was to be shown a little small figure… They had a figure that that you might [send] for if you buy this comic, you get the free figure of Boba Fett, this bounty hunter. So he was seen by man, well certainly by me, I saw the figure before I even started filming. They’re making a little plastic toy of me, and I hadn’t even started yet. […] So that was funny to see myself in plastic.
One of the things with all those figures is that they had the backstories all worked out, for even the tiniest characters who were only in there for one shot. What did they tell you about Boba Fett’s backstory back then? Because it’s been really inconsistent ever since…
Well, to be quite honest I didn’t hear any background history. There was no script. I didn’t really need it because it was only a few lines. The fun thing about him is that he’s a mystery, and I think it has to remain… He has to remain this… There’s still something you’ve got to know. There’s still something about him that we don’t know, and that must carry on. You never know what’s going on in that brain of his. He’s clever at what he does, but it’s still a mystery and that keeps the whole thing… And I think the younger kids love all that mystery.
Have you been keeping up with Boba Fett’s adventures outside the movies?
Are you talking about…?
I’m talking about everything. There was a great anthology book about all the bounty hunters [Tales of the Bounty Hunters, edited by Kevin J. Anderson], of which the highlight was the Boba Fett chapter. There’s the comics…
There’s comics, there’s all sorts of things. There’s The Clone Wars, which I haven’t seen, to be quite honest, because I don’t have satellite television. I haven’t seen it, but I will. You know, I think it’s incredible. The Clone Wars has brought even my youngest grandson is [saying], “Oh, when are you coming on?” Give the story a chance! “When’s Boba Fett…?” He sort of giggles and laughs at it. It’s sort of pretend… Well, when I say “pretend” violence, [I mean] Stormtroopers get back up again. They’re being knocked out. And then kids laugh at that, and there’s so much violence in the world today, that I just think these films are fun [because] it’s pretend. And it goes back to when I was a kid, you shot a pen to shoot a cowboy off his horse. I think that’s such a lovely feeling.
What was your response to seeing ‘Attack of the Clones’ the first time, when they revealed that you were a clone…
That was a difficult one, William, because I’d been telling people for probably ten years that Boba Fett is a human being, six foot tall, and he does this and he does this… And that’s all… And he’s a clone. So I said, “I’m sorry, I apologize to everybody. I’m a clone now.” But I’m a super-clone, so he grows up naturally. […] He grows up as a young boy, into a super-clone.
You’ve had an incredibly varied career outside of Boba Fett, which I’m sure is what you get asked about for the most part. The thing that jumped out at me, and tell me if this is even true, was that you had an uncredited role in ‘A Night to Remember?’ [The early, classic Titanic movie.]
A Night to Remember, which was the 1957… Is that it? [Editor’s Note: Technically 1958, although we’re sure it was shot in 1957.] I was a young boy, eleven or twelve then… I was a young boy on board, and I just had one day. So I was really lucky. Same with Robin Hood, the very early one with Richard Greene. I played a young lad, running through… And I’ve got all the tapes but I still can’t find me, somewhere. Maybe they wiped it off. But I went around with a chaperone one day and filmed Robin Hood with Richard Greene. So that was black and white as well. From black and white actor to Blu-Ray.
What was it like being on these big productions when you were that young? Because ‘A Night to Remember’ had all the big sets… It was huge, right?
You see, my father hated me being involved with film acting, saying “You’ll never work. You’ll be sitting at home. You’ll be asking me for money,” and things like that. I said, “No, I’ll work.” But I had a chaperone when I started, and I went to London during week. And I was very lucky because I was a sort of cheeky freckle-faced young lad, [and] I was working immediately. When I was twelve I was doing lots of kids series, adventure series, commercials for sweets and things like that. And it went on, I was lucky. I broke into being seventeen, eighteen, fairly quickly and then into my twenties, I just kept going. So again, you have to have a little bit of luck to get you that far, then you really have to start working at it. You cannot be lazy, you cannot, sort of, not make too many mistakes. You’ve got to listen to the director. Listen to what he says, because if you’re ever late… Thank goodness, in all the years I’ve never been late to a job or the start of a film… But if you’re late, and you have you one of those directors? “If you’re late again, you’re off my picture. Listen to what I’m saying or you have no career.” And what years ago on a kids film, and he spoke a lot of sense. And everybody there, two or three friends of mine, we’ve all grown up actors and are directing now, so… We listened to the director.
That’s really good advice. I hope people listen to that. What was it like working on ‘O Lucky Man?’
Yeah, that was wild. [Laughs.] It was so funny. Lindsay Anderson was great, was a very clever director, but he loved being praised a lot of the time. You’d say, “God, that looks fantastic. That’s really good.” But, I played, again, it’s followed me around… I played three parts in O Lucky Man! In one of them, well, in all of them, I’m the reflection and alter ego of Malcolm McDowell. So he sees him in the hospital in that awful [unintelligible] body, and then he’s a young man who drives his car, looks by, and just goes into the fog and crashes. And then right at the end I have the sandwich board, where I’m saying “Try your luck.” And again, he looks closely to Malcolm McDowell, and it’s a slight nod, even like the nod in Star Wars. But there’s a recognition that, you know, this is what it’s all about. Life’s about… It was a strange film, but it became cult viewing.
I only have time for one more question. What is the best piece of Boba Fett merchandise you’ve ever seen?
I think the bronze statue, which is about fourteen inches tall. That is clever. I have that. That’s something I bought off the sculptor, Randy Bowen. It’s just a beautiful piece. Anytime I think I’m getting on a bit now, I look at the bronze and I say, “Well, at least I’ll be in bronze for many years to come.” So I look at that. If it’s raining out here, which it does a lot, I can look down and say “Yeah. Yeah, I’m a piece of bronze.”
You’re a piece of work too, sir.