We were fortunate enough to catch up with Paul Blake, the actor behind Greedo in A New Hope, and discuss a fascinating new one-word addition to his famous scene.
FT: So, ‘Maclunkey’ – what do you make of it?
PB: Extraordinarily bemused is what comes to mind. I only found out about it through Mike Carter, old Bib Fortuna who emailed me about it and said, ‘Your scene is in the news again’. I’m still no wiser really, except my wife was reading a bit about why George had done it as a bit of last gasp tinkering before he sold the franchise to Disney, so it was done some time ago, I think.
What was his fascination with that scene? I’m forever grateful, but it seems bizarre that he’s tinkered with it so much.
PB: I just put the costume on Mark! Once the costume was on, that led the way. What I understand is that Maclunkey was the final word Greedo shouted when they shot simultaneously, because it was changed from Han Solo just shooting Greedo in the first version of the scene, then he moved his head slightly and now in this latest one he’s got Greedo shouting out ‘Maclunkey’, which George says was not Rodian but Huttese, and translated basically means ‘you’re dead’. But Greedo even got that wrong like he got everything else wrong.
I have a much wider explanation; I think it was a shout out to my long-lost Irish cousin Maclunkey. It’s little known that Greedo had many relatives in Ireland, one of whom was Maclunkey.
FT: It’s as good a reason as any.
PB: It was George’s toy and he could tinker with it as and when he wanted to. It was a great scene and I enjoyed doing it all those years ago, but I never thought it would have any impact, even if it remained in the movie. All of us thought that most of the scenes with us bit part players would be on the cutting room floor, so I suppose we were very lucky when the scenes were included in the film.
PB: Absolutely, you’re quite right, yes. Once people start to change things it’s like the Director’s Cut of Close Encounters or whatever the movie, but Star Wars was unique in that Star Wars was the original in everything. It as the original merchandise seller, the original implementer of great movie soundtracks through John Williams – not that there weren’t great movie soundtracks before, but his music was sensational and certainly was a good percentage of the contribution towards Star Wars success. You mention the cantina to anyone, and you know the song that’s playing! You mention Darth Vader’s entrance and you know that music too. I think that had a huge and profound effect, so you’re dealing with something that was on its way anyway after ten years and still being there, it was like being in The Wizard of Oz, so I suppose any scene in it has a huge interest for fans who are still there in their millions worldwide.
I just did a convention with a good few thousand people in the centre of Moscow, and 25 years ago that would have been unheard of, but there they were, the same geeks dressed as Darth Vader and Princess Leia. I could have been in Atlanta or Hawaii or in Panama. Those two words are as impressive in Moscow as they are in New York or Derby, and the Maclunkey thing is another stage in the saga.
PB: Incredible, and it’s still such a privilege to have been involved all these years later, and to have been in that scene. When I was doing it – and once you put the costume on the costume did it all for me, I didn’t have to do anything really I just turned up -but at the time I never asked George or Harrison what they felt about it all, and I would quite like to ask them now what they really feel all these years later. It would be interesting to see what they really felt about all of that stuff at the time. I never did ask them, we were all too busy. You’d come in for a couple of weeks and then you’d leave because you were desperate to find another job, so it was all too quick really nobody ever asked anything about anything, particularly on movies in those days because we all assumed it would never come out. We all assumed it would be Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and nobody for one moment thought it would be successful. We didn’t have any questions to ask other than where’s the pay cheque? In fact, it wasn’t even a pay cheque, it was a brown envelope, which shows how ad hoc it was in 1976.
So, a real honour to be involved in the scene that was more or less the last thing that George did on Star Wars.