Alan Flyng And His High Flying Stories of Star Wars Sets
Hey, Star Wars fans, ever heard of Alan Flyng? He will be signing autographs at Boonta Eve ahead of Star Wars Celebration, and you’ll want to collect his autograph just to hear his amazing stories from the set of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi! Here are a few to whet your appetite.
Story-time With Alan Flyng
Although Flyng only appeared in one scene in Return of the Jedi, it was an important one in the movie and for Flyng financially. During the heated Battle of Endor, with the rebellion about to turn the tide of the war, mere moments before a lone A-Wing crashes through the Executer’s bridge, an officer reports, “Sir, we’ve lost the bridge deflectors shield!” That officer was played by Alan Flyng. Interestingly, the line was delivered in an American accent, not Flyng’s native English. In the interview, Flying states he was directed to give a Mid-Atlantic accent. This is also unusual since most Imperial officers have English accents.
Appearing in this scene was done as a massive favor to George Lucas, who asked Flyng to do it despite the fact he was needed on another movie set hours away. Lucas was so appreciative of the favor that he paid Flyng with a check that would be enough to buy a house for the hardworking actor. Before that, he lived in a one-room basement flat in London. It certainly pays to be nice.
Flyng Reporting For Duty
As the story goes, Flyng also worked in costume design and was on his way from Elstree Studios to Wales for his job in costume design. On his way out the door, he was stopped and asked if he could do a favor. He was fitted in an undersized officer’s uniform and asked to recite this one line. The costume was undersized because the person it was meant for couldn’t get the line out. As Flyng was performing the line, the small costume tore right down his back, and the sound of the rip was heard loud and clear from the boom mic just above his head.
Out of time, Flyng tried to leave despite the costume ripping sound overriding his dialogue. Once again, he was called back to meet with George, who had him sign a handwritten contract and was given an envelope and told to wait to open it until he was outside. Upon opening, Flyng ran straight to the bank and deposited the generous check, then drove three and half hours to Wales to work in costumes. In the end, the ripping sound was removed, and the scene was done in one take. One and done. In the new canon, Flyng’s character was never given a name, but in Legends, he was called Masil Veit and held the rank of either Senior Commander or Senior Captain.
On Set With Alan Flyng
Before his work on Return of the Jedi, Alan Flyng played a snow trooper on Hoth, and an Imperial stormtrooper in the Carbon Freezing Chamber in Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Flyng agreed to do a couple of days’ work after reluctantly joining the cast of The Empire Strikes Back but would end up staying on for seven and a half weeks! On set, he was referred to as the chunky one because he was, at the time, a bodybuilder and used to train at the same gym as Dave Prowse.
In the interview, Flyng talks about Harrison Ford’s stand-offish persona. Turns out Harrison Ford was not too chatty with anyone on set. In fact, Flyng mentioned that Ford would have a garden shed brought onto the Cloud City placed in the corner of the stage. Harrison would retreat into it and lock the door from the inside when he didn’t want to be spoken to. Which included the Assistant Director. He would only open the door when he felt like it.
Troubles In Cloud City
Flyng confirmed tensions were high on the Cloud City set, but it did not affect his group directly other than causing numerous delays. He said most of the delays were due to disagreements “about something completely meaningless that didn’t actually feature on film.”
Flyng also mentioned lots of accidental mistakes that made it into the movie. For instance, the shot of Lando kneeling over a frozen Han Solo, originally a closeup, was widened to reveal a pair of fire extinguishers two special effects workers had set down in what was supposed to be the background. Oops!
In another one of his stories, Flyng sat through sixteen takes of the I love you. I know, scene. He described the used take as an off-the-cuff response of someone telling Harrison that Carrie says “I love you” and Harrison responding, “I know.’ And that’s what they went with.
Working With George And Being A Stormtrooper
Lucas is known for not exactly being an actor’s director. At one point, Flyng said that Lucas never described to the actors what he was looking for in a performance and that it was all by chance. In other words, Lucas would have the actors do multiple takes until he decided which one was best. He even asked the Continuity person their opinion of the best take. Sounds incredibly frustrating! George would also add loads of extra film of actors like Flyng running down corridors to add atmosphere. Then the editors would have to remove it all later, and none of it was used.
How Flyng describes wearing a stormtrooper body suit sounds absolutely horrific. Stories of the uncomfortable armor are well known, but Flyng adds that the armor was cut with dressmaker shears and not sanded or rounded at all. Talk about torture! Of course, the sharp edges would easily cut into the actors causing them to bleed and bruise, adding to that the mixture of other bodily fluids being absorbed into the suits. Additionally, the black body suits the actors wore underneath the armor would go weeks without being washed. Gross!
Reuniting With Boba Fett
Luckily, Flyng wasn’t mentally scared for life from his experiences. Only physically. Since his days on Star Wars, Flyng has been asked to attend signing conventions which he always appreciates. But since he is a professional in the costume business, he has a sharp eye for armor quality. Flyng warns that if a cosplayer asks for his opinion, he has difficulty keeping comments to himself, but he does his best to retain his British politeness.
Working alongside Jeremy Bulloch, Flyng says Bulloch was one of the nicest, most genuine people to work with. However, years later, Flyng failed to recognize Bulloch at a convention mainly because several people wore Fett’s armor on set, including Peter Roy and Alan Harris (Bossk). According to Flyng, Bob Anderson the lightsaber choreographer wore Fett’s armor in the Carbon Freezing Chamber. Who knew?
Looking Back On Star Wars And Ahead To Boonta Eve!
Flyng has a unique experience, having been an actor and worked in costume design, giving a perspective few can claim. Although he certainly struggled with parts of Star Wars, Flyng appreciates how working on the films changed his life positively. However, he wants you to know he’s done more than just Star Wars.
Meet Alan Flyng at Star Wars Celebration’s pre-show – Boonta Eve!
With Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 hitting the Excel in London in April, fans are ready for another exciting, fun-filled adventure consuming all things Star Wars. You can count on loads of announcements on shows, books, comics, and (fingers crossed) movies. Celebration 2023 also coincides with the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, released on May 25th, 1983. But that’s not all.
Celebration Europe occurs over four days from April 7-10. However, on April 6th, there is the pre-Celebration bash, Boonta Eve, where autograph seekers can find that elusive signature they have been seeking from their favorite Star Wars alums. With this year being the 40th Anniversary of Return of the Jedi, the focus was on booking actors from that movie. The list includes John Coppinger, Tina Simmons, and Alan Flyng, among several more. Coppinger was a sculptor for Jabba the Hutt, Simmons played a Rebel Technician, and Flyng played an Imperial officer.
Boonta Eve 4 takes place on April 6th, the night before Celebration begins, at The Breakfast Club in Canary Wharf. If you’re going, say hi to Alan, but perhaps don’t ask him for his opinion on your trooper gear. Shields up!
Listen to Alan’s Podcast Interview
Alan Flyng recently appeared on Episode 411 of Skywalking Through Neverland to tell some amazing stories of his time on Return of the Jedi as an Imperial officer and as a Hoth trooper and Imperial stormtrooper in The Empire Strikes Back.