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Little illumination from Collins' Stars


CHAIN GANG: Justin Lee Collins got the low-down on some of the Star Wars cast

CHAIN GANG: Justin Lee Collins got the low-down on some of the Star Wars cast

CHAIN GANG: Justin Lee Collins got the low-down on some of the Star Wars cast

In Bring Back ... Star Wars the hairy, oafish comedian Justin Lee Collins set out to reunite the stars of the original trilogy, for no other reason, apparently, than to make this over-long but intermittently amusing film about it.

Running around Los Angeles looking for all the world like Chewbacca the Wookiee after being chopped off at the knees, Collins predictably failed to get within a mile of Harrison Ford ("Oh, f*** him. I've seen him being interviewed, he's boring").

Mark Hamill's agent, if we can believe it (and we probably can), took a phone call and said his client would give an interview for a fee of $50,000. This gave Collins the opportunity for some time-wasting tomfoolery, shaking a tin around the LA streets looking for donations.

He did manage to bag Carrie Fisher at her lavish home, and with amazing ease. He turned up at the gate with a bunch of flowers and her PA let him in.

"I can't miss the chance to meet the first woman to give me the 'orn," drooled Collins in his creepy English West Country burr, tapping into a vein of sleazy innuendo that ran through the rest of their encounter.

Not that Fisher seemed to mind. She's down to earth by Hollywood standards, as well as famously scornful and indiscreet about Star Wars. She spilled the beans on how Hamill resented Ford's glittering career and his own typecasting, and gave Collins a parting gift of a vintage bar of Star Wars soap, still in the wrapper. Was she trying to drop him a hint about hygiene?

The real Chewbacca the Wookiee, 7ft 3ins British expat Peter Mayhew, a regular at Star Wars conventions and the like, was warm and friendly, though like all uncommonly tall men he's very unsteady on his legs these days and requires a walking cane to get around.

Collins accosted a startled Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) coming out of a hotel in Syracuse. After initial wariness -- let's face it, if you've been in Star Wars you'd be wary of a beardy bloke in a duffel coat chasing you down the street -- Williams proved charming and accommodating.

But there was never any hope Collins would get any of these to travel to London for the reunion he'd organised and he was on surer ground back in England, reeling in the smaller fry. This, ironically, was the juiciest part of the whole thing.

Kenny Baker, the veteran dwarf character actor who played cute robot R2-D2, revealed that he and his on-screen sparring partner Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) detest one another. Collins asked him if he'd attend to the reunion. "If he comes, I won't be there. He's an a**ehole."

He has a point. Daniels, when Collins met him, turned out to be a humourless, stuck-up git. "It was a really isolating role," he whinged to Collins in his most actorly voice. "It was so ... traumatic, I suppose." He's so full of himself I don't know how they squeezed him into that tight-fitting robot suit.

Collins buttonholed Darth Vader himself, the 6ft 5ins one-time bodybuilder David Prowse, at a restaurant, and what a sad figure he cut. Prowse leaked details of the ending of Return of the Jedi to the tabloids while it was still being shot, with the result that George Lucas never spoke to him again.

"It was basically the end of a career," said Prowse, ruefully.

Given that his most famous role prior to Darth Vader was the Green Cross Code Man in a 1970s road safety ad, this is a bit of a stretch. Self-delusion, it seems, comes in all shapes and sizes.


Bring Back ... Star Wars * * *