"From Stage to Screen"The Bothan Spy's interview with Terence Mustoo, published August 16, 2006
For many Star Wars fans, their fascination with all aspects of the movies has only grown with time. We enjoy writing to actors and learning about their lives. Many of the actors and crew members have diverse careers and have often worked on a surprising number of projects. One such individual is Terence Mustoo, who played small roles in two Star Wars movies. He has graciously agreed to do this interview with us.
First off, let me say it is an honor and a privilege to interview you. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. You have performed both on stage and in film throughout your career. Why did you choose to go into acting and how did you get started?
I had always loved acting at school. I played Dr. Grimwig in Oliver and saved up to go to Mountview Theatre School. I did well, got an agent, and started from there.
You have appeared in numerous movies and television series. Can you tell us about some of the projects you have worked on and any favorites you may have?
I have often appeared in small roles in such films as SOS Titanic, An American Werewolf in London, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Supergirl, The Great Rock and Roll Swindle and many others. On television I was in The Lost Prince, 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, The Virgin Queen, Space Precinct, Inspector Lynley, and Holby City. I also starred in Magicians in Love and appeared in That Peter Kay Thing. I seem to play quite a number of vicars. In addition to the Star Wars movies, I loved working on The Lost Prince, in which I played the groom. The cast and crew were very nice. We filmed in different parts of the country, and attended the premiere.
You have worked with many actors during your career. Do you have any favorites you have enjoyed working with?
There are many but Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branaugh, and Anthony Hopkins stand out. I worked with Anthony Hopkins on The Elephant Man and Howard's End. He introduced himself to me and was a very friendly man. Emma Thompson was very kind. We had a discussion about how people talked down to children. Kenneth Branaugh was inspiring. I worked with him for a month on Conspiracy. I spoke with him about his films and thanked him for turning me on to Shakespeare.
I know as Star Wars fans, we would be delighted to hear about your Star Wars experiences. You appeared in two of the original movies. How did you land roles in not one but two of the movies, and what was it like on the set?
I obtained the roles through my agent. Being the second and third in the series, I was excited to be involved. I worked four days on The Empire Strikes Back and two on Return of the Jedi. It didn't take long to get into costume, but there was a lot of sitting about. We didn't get to see the scripts, but the 1st Assistant Director told us what was going on and how to react. There was a lot of waiting to set up the effects and we had to repeat the takes again and again. Everyone got on well and was nice to work with. On The Empire Strikes Back, I got dressed in my uniform and met Mark Hamill, who chatted about the costumes. He asked to see my hat and said that in the first film they had a leather lining and were better made. I also got to walk about Elstree and see the other sets like the Sky City, which was interesting.
In The Empire Strikes Back, you played an Imperial Officer aboard the bridge of a Star Destroyer. Could you tell us a little about that?
On it I wore the black uniform and was in the pit on the Star Destroyer bridge. My main work was down in the right side working a control console during the action. We had to coordinate our movements to the attack. The consoles were put on plastic bread boxes so the wires could be put to the devices easily, but we had to jerk about when we were hit and we had to hold onto them to stop them from wobbling about!
Are there any particular scenes in which you can be picked out?
I can be seen standing next to the commander as Darth Vader walks by, as well as in the pit during the battle scenes.
In Return of the Jedi, you played an A-Wing Fighter Pilot. Could you tell us a little about that experience?
I wore a green pilot's uniform. The uniform had a leather helmet which hurt my ears, and leather gloves that got quite sweaty. The set was very hot and the people with full "heads" had to be given air with hair dryers to stop them from fainting. We had to imagine the hologram. Carrie Fisher introduced her boyfriend Paul Simon to us on set one day.
Switching gears, you've been very involved in theater. Could you tell us more about your stage career and some of the roles you have played?
On stage I have played Winnie the Pooh, Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, Nigel Tear in The Marchioness Enquiry. I've also appeared in Shelly, Passion, Champion of the Horned Church, and many more. I played Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and put on an Edgar Allan Poe one man show, both of which I also directed.
You've also written some plays, including the musical Sherlock Holmes in the Deerstalker. Could you tell us about these projects, and how is it changing roles from actor to writer?
Acting and writing are things I have always liked. I wrote my first play when I was 10 ... I like to do a bit of everything. Sherlock Holmes in the Deerstalker has been successful. The play was turned into a novelization by John North, entitled Sherlock Holmes and the Arabian Princess and has even been translated into Turkish! I've also written a comedic panto, George and the Dragon, which has proven popular with many groups. My interest in Shakespeare led me to do a history called The Shakespearean Playhouse.
Do you have any upcoming projects on film or stage?
I have just played a Vicar in Inspector Lynley, and Thomas in an outdoor play of The Passion.
I understand you have plans to build a Shakespearean playhouse? Could you elaborate on this?
My big project is to build a Tudor Playhouse. I have the builder already and aim to build it in Cambridge where it would be useful for the colleges. It will be a single story, open-air design, like a smaller version of The Globe. We now have to do fund raising and are looking for supporters.
You also work as a children's entertainer, performing acts like Punch and Judy. I imagine that could be quite rewarding and exhausting at times. How did you become involved in this? Any amusing stories or mishaps?
I got into P&J to get my Equity but enjoy it. I do fetes and parties ... you have to watch the children. Once I was in my booth doing my puppet show when I noticed a small girl had wandered in. I had to get her out without stopping the show!
Getting back to Star Wars for a moment, you've made some convention appearances in the UK. When did you first attend a Star Wars convention?
Earlier this year was my first con -- Empire Day 16. It was good to meet my old friends and the fans were great. There were some men dressed as Storm Troopers! I hope to attend more conventions in the future.
Are you surprised by the amount of fan interest in Star Wars, particularly in actors who played smaller roles such as yourself? Did you have any idea how big Star Wars would become?
Yes. It was so long ago and it was just work, but it's lovely to have this interest and Star Wars is special! Out of all the things I have done, this is the one that impresses people.
Finally, do you have any advice or insights you can give upcoming actors?
Acting is a tough business. You should only act if you need to. Try it, but take a good drama course and also make your own work. Though I love it, it's no job for a grown up.
Once again I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your experiences with us. It has been a pleasure talking with you. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I'd just like to thank you, and hope this interview may be of interest.
For more information on Terence Mustoo's work, please visit his website where you can see a clip of him performing.