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Thread: ROTJ History: Gerald Home's Creature Info.

  1. #1

    ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    For those of you who don't know me, I'm Gerald Home, the actor who played Tessek-Squid Head and the Mon Calamari Officer in RETURN OF THE JEDI.

    I'm starting this topic because I'm constantly being asked about various creatures in ROTJ and the people who were inside the creature costumes, and I want to answer as many of your questions as possible. Those of you I've met know that I care passionately about this kind of history. Those of you who know me also know that the one thing that makes my blood boil is people signing photographs they're not in. More about that later!

    In writing this, I don't want to say anything bad about anyone who signs photos they're not in. That's not what I'm about here. I simply want to give you the facts I know. I don't mean to criticism anyone.

    Firstly, though I'm an actor, that's not how I'm credited in ROTJ. It's important that you know where and how I'm credited: near the very end of the credits, after Ewoks, in the group of Mime Artists. There are 9 of us there. We were auditioned and hired to play creatures in Jabba's Palace, and some of us were also to play Mon Calamari. We all had the same Equity contracts as the other performers on ROTJ. Several of us were in this photo, which I call "Jabba's Creatures":

    There are several things I want to tell you about this photo. I first saw it when I was quite new to fanland and I did a convention with Mike Quinn, who I know well. I know what he did on ROTJ and I know he worked on Ree Yees. So I was surprised when he signed this photo "Nien Nunb". I asked him why he did that, and he replied, "Because it's not me in the photo - it's Paul Springer. I was the puppet Ree Yees and Paul was the "human" Ree Yees in the costume. So it's not me in the photo - it's Paul, so I can't sign that photo. I tell fans that, and if they still want me to sign that photo, I do so - but I won't sign it "Ree Yees", I'll sign it as Nien Nunb."

    Now that, my friends, is the sign of a true professional: he won't sign a photo he's not in. It shows he's honest and has integrity, and has respect for the Star Wars fans he signs that photo for - and it also shows he has respect for, and gives credit to, the person who is in that photo, Paul Springer.

    I'm talking about Paul now because, as you know, he has started to do conventions. I won't speak for him here - he can answer your questions himself in the coming months and years. I've been in touch with Paul recently and I can confirm for you what I've always known: Paul Springer, a "Mime Artist" like myself, played Ree Yees in the Jabba's Palace scenes and in the still photos such as the one above. (I can also confirm for you later in this post which is Paul in at least 1 Mon Calamari photo.) If anyone else ever wore Paul's Ree Yees costume when Paul wasn't available, you'll have to ask Paul about that, because I don't know.

    Yes, Paul played Ree Yees. Here's how you can prove that: look at the shape of his body in the photo above: the person inside the costume is animating the costume. You'll see that same body shape in the Ree Yees scenes in Jabba's Palace. Only a performer animates costumes in such a way. That's why we were hired, because we knew how to bring such characters to life. Extras aren't performers; they don't perform, they don't animate their costumes. That's not a criticism - it's just the way things are.

    And now we get into dangerous territory for me - "dangerous" because some of you might think I'm denigrating extras and saying they're worth less than we performers. Those of you who know me know I'd never do such a thing. But I do need to point out to you the differences between extras and performers because those differences are relevant to what I'm talking about here.

    I have a list of ALL the performers who were contracted on ROTJ, which I got (by accident) along with a residual cheque from California in 1986, 4 years after filming. We performers were classified into 5 groups: actors, puppeteers, dancers, mime artists and stunt performers - and there were less than 100 of us in total.

    There are 2 main differences between performers and extras:
    1. Extras don't perform. That's why they often stand with their arms by their sides in photos. Performers will do something with their hands and arms.
    2. Extras don't audition - they're told where to go and they wear whatever costume fits them.

    The first lot of extras I ever met, early in my career, were London taxi drivers, doing some extra work to earn some extra money. Great. Good luck to them. But my point is that they weren't professional performers, and so they didn't see things from a professional's point of view. No professional would ever sign a photo they weren't in, but the same can't be said for all extras. I've heard some say they'll sign anything that's put in front of them. They don't seem to understand that in doing so they're cheating the person who really is inside the costume - and they're also cheating the Star Wars fan who is paying good money for this "false" autograph.

    Let me make it clear that I'm not saying extras shouldn't sign. I have no problem with extras signing - as long as they're definitely in the photos they're signing!!! There are some extras I love working with - Christine Hewett for one. She didn't pretend to be something she wasn't - and her stories were just as interesting as those told by any actor.

    You guys can help with stopping fraudulent signings. You should be scrupulous about asking what photos people were in. If they can't tell you, then they shouldn't sign the photo, simple as that. Event organisers can also help by not letting photos be signed by people who there are doubts about, and by not calling all their guests "Actors" because sometimes not all the guests are actors. "Autograph guests" would be a better term.

    By the way, if you want to see what Paul Springer looks like, get the DVD of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?". He's credited as "Mime Coach" on that and he can be seen in the Losers' Bar scenes. In fact, he's the deaf mute who writes "Laid off" on the pad. Notice he's the same height as Bob Hoskins - much smaller than me (for those of you who've met me). This helps confirm his identity in the photo above.

    A final word about the above photo: the small creature sitting on the lower right of the photo is now being signed by someone who didn't even work on ROTJ! Solution? Don't pay him to sign this photo! And remember, the person inside the costume might turn up one day too.

    And now on to Mon Calamari stuff. First of all, here's a historical fact for you: there was only one Mon Calamari OFFICER during filming in 1982, and that was me. Look at the call sheets: they called for "Mon Calamari", but the word "officer" wasn't mentioned until I was named as the "officer, aid, controller" in call sheets, when I was given 2 pages of dialogue to learn for some additional, experimental scenes with Ackbar on the Bridge during the Battle of Endor (call sheets and dialogue pages available on my website and on various other sites.)

    So I was the only Officer! Nowadays of course everyone who was a Mon Calamari is called "Mon Calamari Officer". That's fine by me. Things get changed with time, but now you know the history of this title!

    And now for my Mon Calamari History. As I was constantly being asked which Mon Cal was me, a few years ago I put together all the Mon Cal photos I could find, and showed which one was me in each photo. In short, when Ackbar is standing, I'm sitting - and when Ackbar is sitting, I'm standing. Here we are together in a still photo. Only Tim Rose and I were called to this photo session on the Bridge, so there's no doubt about it (Tim can confirm that for you):

    I sat in that (screen left) chair in some other still photos, and in one scene in the film, but in the Battle of Endor, I'm the confused looking Mon Cal standing at the back, fiddling with the overhead lights, trying not to fall off the back of the set! Here I am, in the photo below, pointing off to screen right just before Ackbar says, "It's a trap!"

    By the way, I can confirm that Paul Springer is the Mon Cal sitting in the screen left chair during the Battle of Endor.

    Many people don't know that I was also in the Briefing Room scenes, standing behind Caroline Blakiston/Mon Mothma. Here I am below, the tall Mon Cal, standing between 2 smaller Mon Cals who are both wearing "camouflage" Mon Cal costumes. Notice the different colour and shape from my costume. The Mon Cal on my (screen) left was a female extra (notice her arms by her sides!) and I do remember who the performer was on my (screen) right, but I can't tell you who he is because he says he doesn't remember!

    And for the record, here are the 4 pages of Mon Cal photos and info which I put together some years ago. They were quickly put together and aren't terribly neat, but they are factual, and are my historical record of the photos I'm in as a Mon Calamari. Click onto the thumbnails to get big versions:

    An interesting detail some of you might not know: though Richard Marquand directed ROTJ, George Lucas directed the blue screen Battle of Endor scenes. He functioned as a kind of second unit director because only he knew what would eventually be in those blue screens. You'll find confirmation of that on page 141 of the brilliant little paperback from 1983, The Making of Return of the Jedi.

    Finally, if you want even more info (!) here are links to 3 excellent interviews which have photos and info not seen anywhere else. And then there's a YouTube interview which I did in Chicago last year with Chris "Darth" Spice. It also has info not seen anywhere else:

    I hope you find all this stuff interesting. It's my little attempt to verify and help make clear what I know of the autograph and photo side of my Star Wars/ROTJ experience in recent years. If you have any questions, just ask. I don't know everything and I don't know who everyone is in every photo. There are still things to learn, and I'll keep trying. And other ROTJ performers might turn up one day - for example, another one of us Mime Artists, Andy Cunningham. I'm pretty sure he was a Mon Cal too.

    All the best from Mon Calamari, my little place in Star Wars history.

    Gerald Home
    Tessek-Squid Head & Mon Calamari Officer in STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI

  2. #2

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Very informative, thanks for the info and glad to have you here!

  3. #3

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Thank you for the information Gerald. Everything you stated here was verbatim with what you and I talked about while you were in Chicago last year (it was a pleasure to meet you, by the way).
    In this day and age where people are out to make a quick buck signing graphs through lies and deception, it's nice to have people from the production that care enough to try to set the record straight. I'm sure there may be a thing or two here or there that are hazy, but you are definitely out to help us piece together who was who in a given shot, and we appreciate it. Unfortunately, I do not have access to old call sheets as you might, or as a few fortunate others on the boards may have access to, but I have no reason to doubt you at, and your intent is good.

    Thank you....

  4. #4

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Thanks for the info Mr. Home!

  5. #5

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    This was a fantastic read and thank you for taking the time out to do this! Really appreciated.

  6. #6

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Such a great read! Welcome Mr. Home!
    "Apology accepted...."
    WANTED: Empire Strikes Back stuff that I don't have that would look great in my collection.

  7. #7

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Good to see you here, Gerald! Haven't talked to you in a while, hope all is well. Thanks for the update, I'm sure many really appreciate it.

    Steven Weimer
    Steven A. Weimer

    "Only a bootleg collector would be happy with a 1 armed prune face that looks like it has passed through the family pet " - Joshua_A

  8. #8

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Brilliant! That was cool...hopefully I'll meet you some day at a con here in Ireland..;-)
    My Sketch Card Art
    My Invasion of the Body Snatchers Collection

  9. #9

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Welcome.Great Info.

  10. #10

    Re: ROTJ History: Gerald Home\'s Creature Info.

    Thanks very much for all the positive comments and welcomes. I'm glad to hear you like my post.

    Shane: good to see someone from Ireland here, as I'm an Irishman myself, Belfast born and bred. Actually, I did the first Invasion Belfast in 2008, along with Dave Prowse, and hope to get to another event one day.

    Steven, good to see you here too! The tentacles of Rebelscum stretch far and wide (just like Tessek's!) I hope all's well with you and JediCon in WV.

    Squid-like greetings to all and, by the way, as I've written on another thread: Mr Home was my father. I'm Gerald, ok?

    Gerald Home
    Tessek-Squid Head & Mon Calamari Officer in STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI

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