A LONG LONG TIME AGO, IN A FILM STUDIO NOT SO FAR
Stormtrooper photo - one of your webmasters in "Star Wars", filmed at Elstree
Studios in 1976
I recently found this photo taken more than
30 years ago while I was working as an extra
on the original Star Wars, Episode IV! The Stormtrooper photo is quite small and faded but I have tried to electronically
enhance the colours to show as much detail as possible. The costume was mostly simple moulded fibreglass/plastic
which was held together with black cloth straps that can't be seen against the
baggy black "silk" undergarment. The picture was taken at the end of one days filming as I was
leaving to go back to the "hotel" when I heard that someone had a camera out and
I literally pulled it back on at
the last minute. If you look carefully at the original release of the film you will see
me in some of the shots near
the Millennium Falcon ramp and the Death Star docking bay. Look carefully and
you may just see that one of the Stormtroopers appears to have only one leg! It fell off and nobody bothered with a retake - I
won't reveal the legless Stormtroopers name except for money! Later releases
have been re-framed so I understand this can only be seen in the earliest video tape copies of
the film. As far as I am aware no DVD releases show this mistake. If you know
better then please do get in touch, with a frame grab if possible. The first person
to send a copy exceptionally WILL get an autograph with my thanks!
The belt and kneecaps are made of a
flexible moulded white plastic/rubber sort of material. Around my neck is a
corrugated "yolk" made of heavy rubber type stuff, this neatly covers up the gap
between body and helmet! It was quite claustrophobic when first put on but I
soon got used to it. The helmet has to be rotated 90
degrees before being put on or removed else it takes your nose with it! It is
lined with some smelly yellow foam stuff which is uncomfortable and hot under the
studio lights. When we walked we sort of "rattled" along in a most unthreatening manner!
There were at least two different
"grades" of costume for different shots. Some wore a design that was
shiny, the rest a more matt finish, although the lighting made them look similar
on screen. This production was certainly
made as cheaply as possible, and many of the crew did not take it seriously, the
opposite of we extras who did our best to look menacing - if only they had known then what we know now!
As whatever I write here tends to end up on fan web sites - often with my words
badly edited - and certainly without my permission, I won't answer any more
questions about this photo or costume, sorry. There is plenty of information on
the internet - see below. All I will add is that I went there, got
extremely hot, came home, and eventually got paid!
For some obscure safety
reason I did not have my gun with me when these pictures were taken on an
adjacent stage at the end
of the days shooting, pity as it was based on a real U.S. gun. I suspect the reason
is that all armaments, both Imperial and Rebel were locked away safely at
night! I believe that one extra got into serious trouble for taking his "gun"
out of the studio area when he went for "a rest break" or something to eat! I
seem to remember that he got thrown off the set, whether permanently I can't
As you can see the
costume was quite well
worn and one of the upper legs had been repainted, but
none of this shows in the world of movie magic. It has been suggested that this
costume had already been used in filming in Tunisia. As I only worked on the
movie for a very short time I cannot add any more. Later Star Wars episode Stormtrooper costumes
are completely different to this very early original example although the
chronology of the films shows these later costumes before this episode!
didn't get the star's autographs nor do I have the costume for
sale unfortunately, I'll bet it would be worth a small fortune now! I believe
the older and damaged costumes were scrapped and the better parts made up into
Stormtrooper armour used for publicity at the premieres around the world. A
former colleague who worked for Rank Theatres publicity department tells me there is a picture taken
at the premiere in Leicester Square, London, and another taken in Brighton
that shows a Stormtrooper Parade where the costumes look identical to
this one except they showed many more signs of repair with obvious metal rivets
showing where the black straps had pulled loose. Due to copyright restrictions
I am unable to reproduce either picture here but try Googling for "Stormtrooper
Evening Argus, Brighton".
I will now answer my most commonly asked
question which is the same one that astronauts are often asked about space
micturition - "with great difficulty but front and back don't meet in the
middle, so with a bit of levering...!"
Finally below is a link to an excellent site about these
costumes, I'm in the photograph third from the end of the page, but which
Stormtrooper am I? A close look at the detail (every costume was slightly
different) appears to show that I am in the second row on the extreme right hand side of the frame. ;-)
is a well researched site about these costumes with much information.
PLEASE NOTE: I am dreadfully sorry but because of the increasing number of
requests I am at present not able to send autographs by mail.