Published on December 14th, 2017 | by Sarah Jubb
How Britain Helped Make STAR WARS
The United Kingdom is about to embrace STAR WARS mania once again as the highly anticipated instalment of the main franchise hits screens today. STAR WARS: The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, is officially the eighth film in the main saga, marking the second film in the third trilogy.
STAR WARS is one of the hottest properties in Hollywood at the moment. In 2015 it was estimated to be worth around $42 billion by Fortune Magazine. Whilst mostly associated with Hollywood, Britain has plenty to be proud of as well when it comes to the cultural juggernaut. That is because Britain has a long history with STAR WARS, with both closely intertwined throughout the decades.
A Galaxy Right At Home
The original film, Episode IV – A New Hope, was released all the way back in 1977. It was filmed at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, as well as Shepperton Studios in Surrey. It took over the entire studio at Elstree and saw British designers creating characters and items that would become beloved for decades such as R2-D2 and the famous lightsaber.
An interesting fact surrounding the original film is that many of the crew did not think the film would become successful, and often found the concept strange. STAR WARS debuted before films such as Alien, Blade Runner, Terminator and many more made serious science fiction films became a staple of Hollywood.
The connection to Britain has endured throughout the last 4 decades with every STAR WARS film, including Rogue One: A STAR WARS Story, being filmed primarily in British studios. Elstree Studios has remained a pinnacle part of STAR WARS, with Episodes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and Rogue One all having at least part of their production there.
More recently Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, famous for James Bond, saw both STAR WARS The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi being filmed there. A new BBC documentary set to air on 21 December, called The Galaxy Britain Built, is set to take a closer look at all the British talent that helped to film one of the most famous films in the world.
British Talent Fills STAR WARS
While there is plenty of reason to celebrate British involvement in STAR WARS behind the camera, there are also lots of reasons to celebrate in front of the camera as well! British actors and STAR WARS have gone hand in hand since the very beginning, with some of the most famous characters in film history being portrayed or played by British actors.
These include the loveable droids R2-D2 and C3-PO, portrayed by Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels to the man inside the Darth Vader costume, David Prowse. Warwick Davies, a prolific British actor has featured in at least one film in each trilogy. He played an Ewok in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi before playing various characters in The Phantom Menace as well as being in the newest film, The Last Jedi.
British actors have not just been relegated to playing inside suits though, with some of Britain’s best talent featuring in the films as well. Christopher Lee played Sith Lord Count Dooku in the prequel trilogy with Alec Guinness portraying Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope with Scottish actor Ewan McGregor taking over the role to portray a younger Obi-Wan in the prequels.
New British talent has come to the forefront in the new films, with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega taking two of the three main characters in the new trilogy with their characters Rey and Finn. The spin-off film, Rogue One, released in 2016, also saw Felicity Jones command the main position with a ragtag band of characters under her.
Celebrating British Involvement With STAR WARS Stamps
With the popularity of STAR WARS, it’s only expected that there is also a large range of memorabilia available. For anyone who enjoys collecting STAR WARS items, or is an enthusiast of stamp collecting, then the new stamp range released by Royal Mail to celebrate The Last Jedi is sure to please.
The new range of stamps has been rendered in detail by British artist Malcolm Tween, the designer behind the popular range of STAR WARS stamps that were issued in 2015. The range of stamps includes four ‘droid’ stamps and four ‘alien stamps’ that all feature a typeface that replicates the iconic STAR WARS font.
These stamps are perfect for any avid collector with the STAR WARS Presentation Pack making the perfect present with Christmas fast approaching. There are also some unique and fun ways to display these stamps that are particularly ideal for lovers of the science fiction franchise such as the STAR WARS Lightsaber Display Set or the STAR WARS BB-8 Display Set.