Twenty Years Later: The Force Is Still With Them
BOSTON — "Star Wars" is hyped as the movie that changed cinema forever. It also changed a lot of careers.
Harrison Ford (Han Solo) has gone on to such hits as "Patriot Games" and "The Fugitive."
Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) has written books, starred in films like "When Harry Met Sally," and is one of Hollywood's hottest "script doctors." She was paid $100,000 per-day to rewrite the part of Tinkerbell in Steven Spielberg's "Hook."
Even the relatively obscure Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) has been on Broadway and was the Joker's voice in "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm."
But what about the supporting cast of largely British actors? Here's the scoop on a few.
Hearing Peter Mayhew describe Chewbacca - Han Solo's hairy sidekick - is like hearing praise for man's best friend: "He's loyal, very loyal," the amiable Mr. Mayhew muses. "He's also quite curious."
Yes, Chewie is essentially an endearing space dog. And Mayhew, the 7-foot, 3-inch actor is doing what he enjoys - traveling the world talking to fans at "Star Wars" conventions.
But he hasn't always been re-living his "Star Wars" fame. After filming for the trilogy ended, Mayhew started a lumber firm with friends in England.
He may have been Han Solo's intergalactic mutt friend, but Mayhew thinks Chewie may just be this world's "biggest, best-loved teddy bear."
Whether he's riding on Skywalker's X-Wing fighter or hanging out with C-3P0, Kenny Baker, who played the automaton R2-D2, is simply an entertainer.
Mr. Baker began his show business career as a comedian, a deejay, and a clown. Later he did pantomime, musical comedy, and ice-skating shows.
After "Star Wars," he starred in movies such as "Time Bandits," "Amadeus," and "Labyrinth." He now attends "Star Wars" conventions and performs in British cabaret acts.
As for his "Star Wars" role, Baker says it wasn't too bad, because after they lowered him into the cylindrical costume, he was only required to be in it for increments of one hour.
Wicket the Ewok
Perhaps the Empire's most-humiliating defeat came with the help of a bunch of stalwart teddy bears. While the Ewoks didn't appear until "The Return of the Jedi," Wicket (Warwick Davis) is one of the trilogy's more memorable characters.
Mr. Davis has since gone on to a number of other-worldly roles. He played a leprechaun, and a wizard in the fantasy "Willow." Soon he'll begin work on another magical outing with the movie "Jeni." There's also a possibility he'll act in the upcoming "Star Wars" prequel.
Off-camera, Davis runs Willow Management, an agency that represents actors less than five feet tall - the largest agency of its kind in the world.
Davis says he wouldn't want to step into the furry outfit again. "It was very hot, and I was much younger then." But he still has a special affection for Wicket. "It is such an amazing thing to be part of that trilogy.... Wicket is the character that sort of launched my career," he says.
As Han Solo once said, not bad for a little fuzzball.