Boba Fett “absolutely” survived that nasty plunge into the Sarlacc Pit a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, according to a pretty solid source: Boba Fett himself.
“Yes, absolutely. Yes, he did!” English actor Jeremy Bulloch, the O.G. Boba Fett, insisted when he rang The Daily Beast ahead of Star Wars Day from his home in London, just a skip away from where he first donned the Mandalorian bounty hunter’s metallic ensemble in the spring of 1979.
Bulloch, 71, famously played Boba Fett in 1980’s Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, turning a sparse and primarily physical performance into one of the more surprisingly popular characters in the Star Wars universe.
And as the modest little sci-fi series he had a part in grew into a full-fledged cultural phenomenon, Bulloch, a longtime theater and film actor, saw one of his most serendipitous roles become an indelible part of generations of fans’ lives.
So, yeah: Boba Fett is totally alive.
“George Lucas has said he gets out of the Sarlacc Pitt,” Bulloch said, deferring to the Star Wars head honcho, who in recent years reportedly allowed that the feared bounty hunter somehow made it out to safety at the end of Return of the Jedi.
“He’s got to mend his jet pack,” mused Bulloch, playfully theorizing what Boba Fett’s been up to since then. “He’s probably opened a couple of bars down there, serving not the American beer, but the English beer… so he’s okay.”
Bulloch is one of ten Star Wars performers who share their fond stories, and a few frustrations, in the new documentary Elstree 1976. In it, he recalls how his half-brother Robert Watts, an associate producer on Empire Strikes Back, called him up one day while he was in the middle of starring in a stage production.
“He said, ‘There’s a small part that might be quite fun for you to do. Might be a couple of days.’ I said, ‘I can’t! I’m in the theater!” Bulloch remembered.
Bulloch went to set to meet Lucas, the shy American filmmaker at the helm of a notoriously unwieldy production, directed by Irvin Kershner, as they were shooting the Wampa scene.
“He said, ‘Well, it’s not a big role, but welcome aboard,’” said Bulloch. “He was very kind and when he said, “Welcome aboard,” I thought, what have I done?”
Of Boba Fett, Lucas simply told him, “‘He’s a bounty hunter, he’s quite deadly, and he’s quite a fun character,’” Bulloch recalled. He worked out a deal to spend his days on the Star Wars set before racing across town to his nightly theater gig. “It was one of the most uncomfortable costumes I’ve ever worn, but you get on and do it. It was terrific fun.”
Bulloch politely chuckles at the mention of Star Wars star Carrie Fisher’s self-admitted party life during the making of Empire, when the cast was partying with the Rolling Stones and, she told The Daily Beast, she and Harrison Ford even showed up drunk to set the next day.
“She’s an absolute shriek,” said Bulloch. “She’d never stop! I played another part, Lieutenant Sheckil, and there’s a scene where I’m grabbing her around her waist and pulling her into the elevator. I remember her saying to me years ago, ‘Hey, I remember you. I had to warn you, didn’t I? You grabbed me around the waist. You were lucky you didn’t get in trouble. She was such fun.”
Fisher also told The Daily Beast how her infamous gold bikini led to some particularly revealing wardrobe malfunctions between scenes—in full view of Bulloch: “I didn’t inform him, but I always thought that if Boba Fett were of a mind, he could see all the way to Florida.”
“I remember that,” Bulloch chuckled, ever so slightly flustered. “Well, I don’t want to get into corroborating. But she was… keeping the whole balance perfectly. She had that wicked way, and she was funny. She said, ‘Be careful where you grab me.’”
Bulloch has been working steadily since his Star Wars days but is game to return to the galaxy, should Lucasfilm call upon him again. Perhaps, he hints, for the Boba Fett standalone Disney has in development?
“Yes, they’re talking about a spin-off, whatever that means. That would be lovely. Just to be invited,” he mused. He ponders who could be cast as the perfect young Boba Fett. “Well, you have Temuera Morrison [the retconned voice of Boba Fett], and Daniel Logan who’s the young Boba Fett [in Attack of the Clones] anyway. But Michael Fassbender is a fine actor.”
Bulloch acknowledged the sour grapes expressed by some of his fellow Star Wars alums in Elstree 1976 who complain that fans flock to the actors who played more popular characters at conventions—actors like Bulloch.
“I’d heard that, and I say, ‘Why are people getting off their trees?’ If [your character] has a terrific outfit, it doesn’t matter who it is. People say, I’d love to have that photograph. And people like to go for the antihero.”
For the most part, he says, “They all get on terribly well together. I think a lot of them at least had a name in the film. And if they didn’t, they should think of a name!”
(Bulloch, for the record, offers to give me such a moniker. It sounds something like “Makka Tarakka.”)
He replies diplomatically when it comes to the plight of another fellow original Star Wars star, Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original films—and now claims that Lucas has barred him from appearing at official Star Wars fan events, possibly as retribution for inadvertently spoiling the truth about Luke Skywalker’s lineage years ago.
“I think he should enjoy what’s there,” said Bulloch, adding that he does not know why Prowse and Lucasfilm fell out. “It’s a terrific character, Darth Vader. He should just carry on enjoying at the events that he goes to. He’s good with the fans. I think he should just… get on.”
“Imagine, I was in Star Wars! I played this. That’s terrific. Wow, lucky beast!” added Bulloch. “A lot of people there, they should just get on with it, and enjoy what’s been given them.”