My latest blog report is a pretty special one, it is New hope props and C3PO stand in Jim Marlow.
I have been trying to set up a meeting with Jim for some time now, to say he is a busy man is an Understatement, but some things are definitely worth the wait.
Below is the result of the meeting.
Me: Hi Jim, can you tell me a little about how you got to work on Star Wars ?
Jim: I began working for MGM along with fellow props guy Kieron McNamara, I was working for a man called Frank Bruton, he was what is known as a prop master.
I was there for around three and a half years .
One of the main things I worked on was a programme called “the prisoner”.
I had left MGM and moved to Milton Keynes, Work was not great and I eventually moved back to Borehamwood, I got a call from Frank Bruton asking if I would be interested in working on a film called Star Wars, it was on Christmas Eve of all days.
Me: what was your principal job in Tunisia?
Jim: Both myself and Kieron McNamara were primarily given the job of dressing Anthony Daniels, as we had a good knowledge of the suit and it’s fittings.
I also worked on laying the tracks in the desert for the jawa sand crawler.
This was a comedy of errors, we initially laid the tracks, they were facing left, when George and Gary arrived they informed us that they needed to be facing right!
You can imagine how happy having to rip it all up, make sure that the landscape looked untouched and re lay the tracks facing the right way made us props guys.
I also worked extensively on the appearance and the assembly of the homestead.
Me: Can you give me a brief description of the work you did at Elstree?
Jim: We pretty much put together anything that needed to be in shot, we visited scrap yards and anywhere else we could lay our hands on parts to create props from.
One of the memories I have is of building the long poles that the actors used to try and bridge the walls of the garbage compactor.
We made them by joining lengths of cardboard tube together and spraying them grey, we built those things for two days solid.
Me: Many of the photos I have seen show you in the C3PO outfit, how did that come about ?
Jim: Initially the suit had to be photographed for reference assembly, as I was very slim back in the day I got to wear it so that we could take step by step assembly photographs.
The guy in the photos with me is my old friend Kieron McNamara, we knew that bloody suit inside and out.
Me: How did you find getting in and out of the threepio suit ?
Where there any stand out memories that spring to mind ?
Jim: Well it was the summer of 1976, the hottest and longest on record, wearing that suit was pretty uncomfortable, there was one occasion when I was fully suited up and literally unable to move.
They still had photographs to take and it was time for a break.
The sods pushed me over and left me like a scarecrow while they went and got ice creams.
Me: So did you ever stand in for Anthony Daniels for pick up shots etc ?
Jim: Funnily enough I did some stand in work and some shots that actually made the final film, in fact I was in the suit when they filmed the Stormtroopers coming in to the corridors at the beginning of the film.
As I remember I had to climb into the escape pod, it wasn’t easy.
There was a scene where I was told I had been hit by the Stormtroopers fire, and I remember the
Threepio outfit had a burn mark on it, but I think that scene was cut as I remember thinking that
the first time you see threepio in the desert he does not have the blast marks.
Me: That’s pretty amazing, did you have any idea how successful the movie would become when you worked on it ?
Jim: Not at all it was just something that was a job at the time.
One of the oddest things that came from it was that I later worked on a Star Wars toy commercial for a French company.
Me: So do you still keep busy Jim, or have you hung up your props skills these days ?
Jim: I’m not as busy as I used to be but I still keep my hand in on various commercials etc.
I have a busy family life and I am always being put to use on some new project or the other.
Me: Jim I can’t thank you enough for sparing me some time and I know Star Wars fans old and new will love hearing about your story thank you so much.