‘Star Wars’ Extras Become the Leads in New Documentary ‘Elstree 1976’

By  · Published on May 8th, 2014

‘Star Wars’ Extras Become the Leads in New Documentary ‘Elstree 1976’

Canal Cat Films

I think it was Andy Warhol who said that everyone associated with Star Wars will be world-famous for 15 trillion minutes. Maybe I made that up, and maybe I have a personal reason for knowing it’s not necessarily true of everyone associated with George Lucas’s game-changing movie, but it does at least seem that Star Wars mania allows for anyone involved in the first or any subsequent installment to be an icon of sorts for the millions of fans out there. Even Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best are embraced by many at conventions. And according to a new documentary in the works, plenty of extras can show up to events and have a line of people waiting to get their autograph.

Of course, almost every extra appearing on screen in the original Star Wars movie plays a character with a name and maybe even an action figure. Very few are recognizable by name and most aren’t recognizable by face given that they wore masks. Plenty played roles as distinct as Greedo and Biggs and Boba Fett, while others played stormtroopers. Jon Spira’s Elstreet 1976 will spotlight ten of these minor yet significant players, including David Prowse, whose role as Darth Vader in every way except for voice and final reveal barely counts as being labeled “extra.” There’s also John Chapman, who played a Rebel pilot in the Battle of Yavin. We can thank him for inspiring Spira (Anyone Can Play Guitar) after enrolling in the filmmaker’s screenwriting class.

Elstreet 1976 is already mostly shot, and the post-production financing is expected to come from crowdfunding via Kickstarter. Obviously it’s going to be able to capitalize on the current excitement about Star Wars: Episode VII ‐ thinking about it in relation to the big official casting news, I can’t help but wonder about all the extras in the next installment and what strange alien characters they will be (hopefully J.J. Abrams is interested in some mask-wearing and not just CG characters). Even without that relevance, though, this would be a popular project, especially when the pledge perks include a replica Boba Fett helmet signed by Jeremy Bulloch, who played the bounty hunter in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. There are also some limited edition prints by Dan Mumford available for lower-amount contributors.

As far as who all will be featured in the film, the Kickstarter page unfortunately doesn’t list them, but here are the names and characters from what I can gather through the trailer (I’ll add any that I’m made aware of later):

David Prowse ‐ Darth Vader

Jeremy Bulloch ‐ Boba Fett

Paul Blake ‐ Greedo

Garrick Hagon ‐ Biggs Darklighter

Pam Rose ‐ Leesub Sirln (Cantina denizen)

and I think that’s Laurie Goode as Hrchek Kal Fas (one of the Cantina “crocks”)

If the perk delivery time is any indication, the doc will be ready in time for the release of Episode VII in December 2015.

[h/t: @refocusedmedia]

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.