Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our one hundred and forty-first guest delivered one of the most famous lines in all of Star Wars: “You Rebel scum!” – Barrie Holland.
FT – Barrie, welcome to Lightsabre.
BH – My pleasure to do an interview for your site. Always a pleasure for me to do another interview, particularly as you have asked me at least one original question.
FT – Lieutenant Renz was for many years an unknown character, but lately he’s become quite infamous, and his classic line – “You Rebel scum!” – has passed into common Star Wars fan usage. Did you have any idea back in 1982 when you filmed your scenes that the character would be such a large part of your life?
BH – It is very interesting how my line “You Rebel Scum!” has passed into Star Wars folklore. I never expected that at the time of filming all those years ago in 1982. There was a lot of work around in those days and it was a very busy year for me. It was great fun to do but was just another job at the time, remember I had three young children to support, so the more work the better. I guess it turned out years later lucky for me to have been in the ‘Right place at the right time!’ It was a very complicated scene to do and took one and a half days of continuous filming from various angles. I had seven Stormtroopers with me at the time although you never see seven in the final cut ever. I have a master shot which you will never see published in any book and shows all seven at the time. George Lucas very kindly arranged for me to get several pictures of the scene after I had spoken to him personally on the set of ‘Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom‘ the following year in 1983. These photos were all taken by Keith Hamshere the Stills Photographer at the time of filming. They are my personal favourites of all the pictures I have of that sequence.
During the very first rehearsal of the scene Harrison Ford said to me “What did you call me?” and playfully slapped my face lightly. As I said earlier it was great fun to do. I had a timing light and we all had specific positions on the set to get to, so every,one of the Stormtroopers was relying on me to get it right. If I got there too early my gun was in his back and if I got there too late he turned into empty air. Great fun! I suppose as a bit of movie trivia I have held a gun on Harrison Ford more than any other actor in all of his action films. Ha! ha!
FT – You have shared scenes opposite an absolute galaxy of stars including Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Michael Winner, Vincent Price, Gene Hackman, Tom Selleck, Richard Burton, Lee Marvin, James Mason, Robert Duvall, Robert De Niro, Alan Bates, John Thaw, Anthony Hopkins, Anthony Quinn, Joan Collins, Sophia Loren and many others. When you began your career as an actor, what were your ambitions? Was it a living, a vocation or something more?
BH – I did some theatre work in my teenage years before National Service with the Army which included a part in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1956 which I had auditioned for. This was performed in Bergisch Gladbach in Germany as part of a British Youth Theatre Group …we were invited to the town’s Centenary Celebrations as the British Cultural Entry alongside other European countries on behalf of our hometown Luton (their first friendship town at the time) to cement peaceful relations between our two countries further, a few years after the ending of the Second World War. We had a wonderful time and the German people were excellent hosts. I have always loved visiting Germany ever since. I have been to many Star Wars shows there during the past few years and I have loved every minute of them. It is one of my favourite countries in the World.
Remember, I grew up during the Second World War and I think it is great that we have all moved on to become good friends instead of enemies. But I always wanted to be a movie actor as opposed to the stage as my whole life has been influenced by film. It was always a great ‘buzz’ for me to go to a film set particularly meeting and working with some of those great actors from the Forties who I had once watched as a small boy never realising all those years ago that my dreams would one day become true. It has been great fun over the years working in one’s lifelong interest. I never wanted to do anything else. The Chinese have a saying .’Beware of what you wish for!’
In the late Fifties after leaving the British Army (where I had been the Personal Assistant/Private Secretary to a Senior Brigadier (Ret’d) for Two years) I went to work at Vauxhall Motors, Ltd Luton (the UK Subsidiary of General Motors, Ltd USA). I was eventually employed in the Publicity Dept and became an executive in charge of all Photographic work/TV/Cinema Filmlets for the Car/Van Production Advertising involving Booking Models from London Agencies, Photographers, Locations, etc. Most of the Photography was for the Company’s Showroom Brochures. It was a very glamorous vocation and involved quite a bit of travelling in the UK. Having made many top contacts in the world of modelling I eventually became a male model appearing in Fashion Shows, Photographic work, TV Commercials, etc. This was my stepping-stone to getting into the Film World I always wanted to work in.
I went for an audition from a London model agent for a small part in ‘The Greek Tycoon’, achieving this, I went on to become an actor working on many American and British main features and television Productions over the next thirty years as well as continuing my modelling career. So despite my earlier aspirations in my younger years it was thanks to my working in the Publicity Dept of Vauxhall Motors that eventually brought my dreams to fruition. It is a strange life isn’t it?
Otherwise, I would probably have never been Lt. Renz.
FT – The great Alan Ladd, father of Alan Ladd Jr who ‘rescued’ Star Wars when no other studio would go near it, used to write to you when you were a kid. Did George Lucas know about this when you worked on Return of the Jedi?
BH – No, George Lucas didn’t know, about my correspondence with Alan Ladd for years, as far as I know. He might have been highly amused by that. Alan Ladd was a great star for me, very underrated. Like most actors he had his limitations but like Humphrey Bogart, etc he was not a ‘period’ actor. By this I mean he didn’t look right if you put him further back in time than the 19th Century. ‘The Black Knight’ is a classic example but his work in the Forties era of Film Noir, Westerns and Gangsters Movies is as good as anybody of that time. I had some very personal letters from him with many photos and other memorabilia like signed scripts etc. I even got a Christmas card one year.
Some years later after his untimely passing at the tender age of 50 his wife the late Sue Carol wrote to me and congratulated me on the birth of my son Marcus. From what I am given to understand he was always very popular with his fans and gave a lot back. when I was a boy he was a great inspiration for me to become a film actor and a great influence for me in later years on how to behave to fans when I do shows.
Sadly, people always seem to bring his height up which is ridiculous. He may not have been as tall as Gary Cooper for example but believe you me he was ‘A GIANT AMONGST ACTORS!’ Strange how his son Alan Ladd. Jr all those years later was indirectly instrumental in getting me involved with Star Wars.
BH – Like I have said earlier it was great fun for me, apart from being a chosen vocation, to be able to work in so many films. I could go on forever with many long stories but I will just make light of a few experiences as follows.
I once had to go to see Warren Beatty personally to do a scene with him in ‘Reds’, having gotten the role I had to shake hands with him 79 times as part of the sequence, I was involved with him in a restaurant where I was talking to him. Gene Hackman was also involved with this scene and many years later we had a coffee and a laugh at the number of takes Warren used to do but it paid off as he won the award for Best Director for that film.
In ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom‘ along with a friend of mine Lenny Bond (another actor) I had to prevent Kate Capshaw from picking up the diamond from the nightclub floor during the panic where the patrons are trying to escape.
I had the time of my life working with Michael Winner for three weeks on ‘The Wicked Lady’, so many laughs as he spent most of his time having a go at some of the actors. It was an experience like no other!
I was personally taken to meet the late great James Cagney for a private conversation with him when he was 80 years old off of the set of ‘Ragtime’ which I worked on for three weeks. Now that was a treasured moment for me! I worked for three weeks with Robert Duvall as one of his Staff Officers on ‘Ike-the War Years’…he was great…as was J.D. Cannon who I did several scenes with.
I once shared the same make-up artist as Vincent Price for a week, just the two of us early in the morning. We had many laughs. I kept in touch with him personally during his later years. A wonderful man. I worked on many other films with many great actors but the stories would fill a book. I also worked on many Brit and American TV Shows like Inspector Morse, The Sweeney, The Professionals, Poirot, Minder, Magnum, Hart to Hart, Matlock. Every one of them was a good experience. I think I had a minor row with about six Directors over forty years but that is another story. One in particular who said I was wrong with my dialogue but in fact he was on the wrong script page so I was vindicated….ha! ha! … you could see who the professional was!!!
See my Website barrie-hollywood.co.uk for many more stories and other actors I have met and worked with.
FT – Lieutenant Renz was recently immortalised into a bust from Gentle Giant, which must have been a real thrill for you to see. Were you scanned by Gentle Giant for the casting, and if so were you happy to be cast as Lieutenant Renz for the second time?
BH – Yes, that was a great experience for me, totally unexpected as I never I thought I would get such an honour from Lucasfilm. It was BIG THANKS to my good friend Philip Wise in Texas who has the excellent site Rebelscum. He brought this project to fruition after consultations with Lucasfilm and has immortalised my character of Lt. Renz – what an honour! I am the first Imperial Officer to have a Mini-bust made apart from the late Peter Cushing, the first actor from the six Star Wars films to have a ‘Talking Mini-bust’…(even Harrison Ford doesn’t have one) It says “You Rebel Scum!”, and the First Mini-bust to go out to fans with a signed photo card. I had to sign 2,500 of these cards and return them to the Gentle Giant Studios in California to go out with the bust orders. No mean feat!!! I was flown from Dallas, Texas (where I had been doing a Star Wars show) to the Gentle Giant Studios in Los Angeles, California for the scanning process, that was great fun and another one-off experience in a lifetime. Afterwards they gave me a great tour of the studio. If you go to TheBothanSpy.com site I have an interview there which has several photographs of the scanning process. I have some of the Mini-Busts here and the likeness is amazing. The artists did a great job in getting a realistic likeness to me as I was all those years ago. I am well pleased with the result and eternally grateful to Philip Wise for his efforts.
Check it out on his Website where they are for sale, if anybody is interested in getting one, Rebelscum.com.
FT – Growing up what actors did you watch and admire?
BH – There were many actors who I had admired mostly from the Forties/Fifties era when I was growing up. I had already mentioned Alan Ladd but I was a big fan of John Garfield, Richard Widmark, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Sterling Hayden, Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Glenn Ford and the great Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn to name but a few big male stars. As for the Brits I liked Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Stewart Granger, James Mason, etc.
I am also a massive James Dean fan and was very much into the ‘Method Style of acting’ back in the Fifties. However, let’s not forget the ladies… I loved Maureen O’Hara, Sophia Loren, Yvonne De Carlo, Lizbeth Scott, Jane Greer. I once worked with Sophia Loren, she was fabulous. I also worked with and knew Joan Collins, we have the same birthday, 23rd May, also shared with Robert Watts one of the producers of ‘Jedi‘ and ‘Indiana Jones.’ I am a big fan of the American Western Film and Film Noir movies. I have spent many years studying these genres in vast detail.
FT – The television era of Star Wars has begun and looks set to be a very fertile playground for the story writers. What stories would you like to see told?
BH – Maybe it would be interesting to see the background stories of the beginnings of some of the Imperial Officers like my character Lt. Renz, and Admiral Motti, Admiral Piett, Captain Needa, etc. and how we all rose to power serving the Emperor. Just a thought.
FT – If you had the chance to work on any Star Wars related project, what would it be?
BH – Probably one where I could possibly return as General Renz nearly 30 years later as my character was not killed off like most of the other Imperial Officers but apparently just captured. I would love to be asked to do that.
FT – A quick question about our site, Lightsabre. Any comments?
BH – It is a nice informative site and I wish it every success in the future.
It has been a pleasure to do an interview for you and the fans and I hope it makes for an amusing read. If you believe the answer to the last question then you will believe anything! Ha! Ha! May the ‘farce’ be with you!
FT – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest on Lightsabre. Just one final question. Robert Mitchum, James Cagney and Vincent Price are all waiting for you on an expensive yacht anchored in a marina in Monte Carlo. Mitchum wants you to do a casino heist and pocket a rare diamond from the safe, Cagney wants you to steal the banks takings and Price wants you to cover everyone in wax. You decide to do all three missions, but in what order do you do them and how do you do it?
BH – Firstly, I would go with Price to the ‘House of Wax’ to learn the waxing process and then to his surprise I would suddenly wax him. Leaving him there in the museum I would return to the yacht to get Cagney and his gang of ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ to help me rob the bank.
Having completed this caper we would go back to the ‘House of Wax’ under the pretence of meeting Price and there I would wax them all and would leave them with Price hoping that they wouldn’t be able to use Cagney’s ‘White Heat’ to escape. Returning to the Yacht I would dress up as ‘James Bond’ and using the bank’s takings as collateral at the casino would go with Mitchum on ‘The Big Steal’ where we would eventually get the diamond. I had access to the office safe (where the Diamond was kept in the Manager’s Office) to cash my winnings as I had ‘hit the jackpot’ at the Gaming Tables. The casino was ‘shaken but not stirred!’
Then once again I would return to the ‘House of Wax’, with Mitchum, to meet the others. But to his surprise I waxed him unexpectedly. Now having the Diamond and the winnings from the Casino I returned once again to the yacht with the waxed figures of Price, Cagney and Mitchum and sailed to the island of Monte Cristo off of the West coast of Italy where I eventually became a Count.
I then sold the waxed figures of Price, Cagney and Mitchum on Ebay as ‘The Three Stooges’. I then contacted ‘The Emperor’ and bought him the Death Star, became Lt. Renz and travelled the world to Star Wars shows – the rest is history!
P.S. I never did find out who owned the Yacht? Although the initials ‘H.F.’ were in the Yacht’s Log?
Interview originally posted on Lightsabre.co.uk on 14th June 2009.
- Hardcover Book
- Wallace, Daniel (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 156 Pages - 10/20/2020 (Publication Date) - Insight Editions (Publisher)