At conventions and in letters I'm often asked, 'How did you get on the film?'
Well, the road to Star Wars must have begun when my parents sent me to acting class when I was six, then came radio acting on a Saturday show out of CBC, Toronto, then my own disc jockey show for kids on Saturdays which I inherited from Peter Jennings, as good as a kid presenter as he later was as ABC news anchorman. I acted as a kid at the Stratford Festival of Canada, playing the Prince of Wales opposite Alec Guinness as Richard III.
And the acting bug stuck through high school and into university at UofT where I spent 4 years getting my Honours BA. After that, I came to England on a scholarship to study, did my acting apprenticeship in theatres all round the UK and finally got my first big film with Charlton Heston, "Antony and Cleopatra", playing Eros, Antony's faithful servant who kills himself rather than see his master suffer. My first starring role, in a film called "Some Kind of Hero" playing a Vietnam draft dodger, bombed, but I stayed in London, was known by Irene Lamb, the Star Wars casting director, and was called in to audition for one of the guys in "A New Hope". Irene Lamb told all of us before we went in to meet George that he might be shy and not talk too much. But somehow George and I started talking about Morocco , shooting in the desert (where I had just done "The Message"with Anthony Quinn) and Moroccan cloaks. Somebody later told me that George had a marking system for auditions. I must have been lucky and scored high. I was offered Biggs, one of the best roles that were cast out of London.
So what happened to Biggs and how did I feel when he wasn't around as much in the final cut as he was in the script?
Sure, I felt bad. Who wouldn't? But George and the editors had hard decisions to make to get the film in under 2 hours and the scene lasts about 5 minutes. Later, at a convention in Holland, Gary Kurtz told me the editorial reasons for cutting the Anchorhead scenes and I think they make sense. To include the group of Luke's friends at the station took the film in a different direction as well as slowing down the impetus into the main action of the film led by the two robots. Still, now that we don't care so much about a film's length and kids can sit for hours at Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings, I'd like to see more of Luke's old friend Biggs and the gang around him. It would make more of Luke's reaction to Biggs' death in the dogfight. Anyway, it was a great kick finally seeing the Anchorhead scene on the CD-Rom "Behind the Magic". And who knows? We may see it again on the DVD of Episode IV.
What's happened since on the Star Wars scene?
Nothing but good-lots of travelling round the world on various conventions, meeting hundreds of fans, good laughs and a great time with the Star Wars Alumni. Roll on Celebration 2!