“The crew found it funny. But Harrison didn’t.”
Turns out Greedo wasn’t the only guy Han Solo wanted fired.
Tim Rose, the puppeteer who played the beloved Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars, has claimed Harrison Ford tried to get him sacked from "Return of the Jedi" after he made fun of him on set.
Recounting the tale to producer Jamie Stangroom, Rose claimed the incident happened as they were filming the iconic scene of Solo being unfrozen from carbonite in Jabba’s Throne Room. As Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia kisses Solo after the rescue, all the costumed characters and puppeteers chanted "we saw you kissing!" as a bit of fun… but Harrison, allegedly, wasn’t amused.
"Harrison went over to the director and said ‘Are these puppet characters going to laugh over my line? Because I don’t want to have to come back and do ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement)’," he said.
The director Richard Marquand then instructed the crew to do the exact same thing in take 2, "but do it in mime, don’t make any noise." And so they did. But before take 3, Marquand sat down beside Salacious Crumb — Jabba’s pet lizard monkey whom Rose was operating — and asked him what he thought of the take.
Rose, not realizing he was hooked up to the speakers, replied: "Eh, this Harrison guy… is he gonna talk over our laugh? ’cause it’s really putting me off."
"The crew found it funny. But Harrison didn’t," Rose said, claiming Ford then stormed off the set and refused to come back until the person that made the gag was fired from the production.
Rose said a young AD came and broke the news he was being fired, and that an apology wouldn’t suffice because Ford was "really serious" about his threat.
However, since Rose was a behind the scenes puppeteer and only ever appeared in costume, Ford didn’t actually know what he looked like — and thus he says he was allowed to secretly stay on as long as he told anyone who asked that he was "the new guy".
In 2015, Rose reunited with an oblivious Ford on the set of "The Force Awakens", where they both reprised their "Return of the Jedi" characters.
He said he always wanted to apologize to Ford for telling the story; "I’m at great pains to say Harrison Ford is a great guy, I just happened to misread the sense of humor and do the wrong thing at the wrong time."
Ackbar, who commanded the Rebel forces in the successful attack on the Death Star II — despite it being a trap — has long been a fan favorite among star wars aficionados, who were very vocal in their disappointment when the legendary character was killed-off screen in "The Last Jedi".
But he wasn’t supposed to be; according to Rose, he filmed a "spectacular" death scene, that was so dangerous to create that everybody was ordered to leave the set.
Rose admits that, also like the fans, he was "very disappointed" with his exit, especially after having most of his scenes from "The Force Awakens" cut out.
"After waiting 30 years to reprise Ackbar I was a little disappointed with Ackbar’s role in that picture," he said. "So in The Last Jedi I was quite looking forward to them maybe giving him something more juicy."
"We were only given the script on the day when we were shooting that piece of script, so each day I would come to work going ‘Is today the day when Ackbar get’s something a bit more involving?’ And I looked at my script and I went ‘Oh Ackbar’s going out of the window, well that’s that then!’"
Indeed the Mon Calamari Commander was killed off along with much of the rest of the Resistance leadership, in Kylo Ren’s attack on their cruiser in "The Last Jedi".
His last act was to shout "it’s a wrap!" (a pun on his famous "It’s a trap!" line from ROTJ) in front of the camera, and laugh. But inside his costume, Rose admits he was actually crying.
"We finished all of our bits and they asked me to come down to camera and I thought ‘Oh well maybe their going to say thank you for being one of the heritage characters and giving 30 years and all that’; but what they did was ask me to look at camera and say ‘it’s a wrap’," he said.
"I was actually in tears in the suit because I thought – after everything, after hoping they’d be something, after knowing there wasn’t going to be anything else, Ackbar’s final moment before he went in to the box was a big joke about it’s a wrap. And that was the sum total of my life as Ackbar!"
"I disappeared down the back and couldn’t out for a good 30 minutes after that," he admitted. "They take over bits of your life. They become part of us and we’re part of them."
Another very brief but beloved Ackbar moment comes right at the end of the Battle of Endor, when at the destruction of the Death Star, Ackbar sinks into his chair in quiet relief as the survivors around him cheer wildly.
According to Rose, the reaction was his own — one the director was not happy with — and was one that came from a very poignant place.
"We’d done the deed, we’d won the battle against the Death Star and Richard Marquand came round and said "I want you all to stand up and dance around and celebrate, cause we won the battle," he recalled.
"I was at the age where I came within about 200 people of being drafted to Vietnam – I had very strong views about war at the time. Although I think it’s something to be proud of, I don’t think it’s something to celebrate, there’s a big difference!"
"So when they turned the camera on I thought: Our people have died, their people have died and the weight of it just sunk me down into the chair. And [Richard] got really angry and said ‘right, we’re going to do this again and this time you’re going to get up and dance around’.
"I said ‘If you want Ackbar to dance around then put somebody else in the suit, you got my performance’. And they left it in!"
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