Elstree 1976 DVD review: the extras strike back

The forgotten stars of Star Wars speak in documentary Elstree 1976

“How many actors can say that they have their own action figures?”

It’s a boast that even some of Hollywood’s biggest stars can’t lay claim to – unlike the likes of Paul Blake, Pam Rose, Garrick Hagon and Anthony Forrest, all of who share the distinction of playing characters in Star Wars.

As you might expect, some of the most memorable moments in this documentary are more anecdotal in nature. Derek Lyons (who played one of the Rebels stationed on Yavin IV in A New Hope) recalls how friendly and approachable Mark Hamill was; Paul Blake (aka the ill-fated Greedo) relays George Lucas’s directorial advice to “Play it like they do in the movies”), and David Prowse (the body of Darth Vader) has an amusing anecdote regarding standing up to Stanley Kubrick on A Clockwork Orange.

Yet it’s the moments where they touch upon their lives outside the Star Wars bubble that are the most affecting. Since most of them never reached the same acting heights as the illustrious leads, it’s easy forget that for a lot of them – notably Rose, as she was uncredited as Leesub Sirin and went on to remain so for roles in Superman and Batman among others – it was just another phase in their lives, albeit a memorable one.

For others, it was vastly more significant, with the saga’s continuing survival via fan conventions providing them with much-needed validation at difficult times in their lives.

Even for the actors who had their roles reduced, there is a refreshing lack of bitterness. Take Anthony Forrest, whose scene as Luke’s friend Fixer on Tatooine was cut, although he survived as the Stormtrooper who gets mind-tricked by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Mos Eisley, and Garrick Hagon, who is disappointed but philosophical about seeing Biggs Darklighter’s most important scene nixed.

Finally, you have Blake again, self-deprecatingly bemoaning that despite being a Shakespearean-trained actor, his tombstone will bear the moniker ‘Here lies Greedo’. While we think that’s pretty cool, we can understand.

As intriguing and insightful as it is, this documentary is undoubtedly one for the most dedicated fans. If anything, it speaks highly about the inner life of a film that can inspire such a niche yet charming production as this one.