The man who helped to create one of the most iconic Star Wars scenes with Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher has spoken of his sadness at her death this week.
Jez Harris, worked on the famous intergalactic villain Jabba The Hutt, who enslaves Carrie’s Leia character in Return of the Jedi.
As well as helping to build the giant Jabba puppet, Jez spent hours inside the creation during filming alongside Carrie, working the facial expressions and tail of the monster.
In the years after Star Wars, which was Jez’s big break, he co-founded Crawley Creatures animatronics, which has worked on many high profile feature films , TV productions and commercials - supplying animatronics, prosthetics and model-making.
The firm’s credits include everything from Willow to James Bond 007 and more recently the BBC’s Walking With Dinosaurs.
Jez said: “She was very pleasant and chatty - it’s such a real shame that she has passed on.
“I first met her on the filming of Return of the Jedi in the Jabba’s Palace, she was quite concerned about the golden bikini she had to wear! And the fact she was getting chained by a green tentacled monster. We had a lovely chat about the film and what George was trying to create. I think she went from really enjoying herself in the filming to sometimes being a bit fed up because of the stresses of what we were all trying to do.
“She was a lovely character and I hope she is resting in peace.”
Jez added: “I was in part of a team working under a make up artist called Stuart Freeborne. My involvement was with the animatronics of Jabba, moving his eyes and his two tails, along with some facial expressions.”
He has also worked on several other feature films such as Dark Crystal, and return of the Jedi before setting up Crawley Creatures in Aylesbury in 1986 where it was established for ten years.
Crawley Creatures moved to Buckingham in 2010 as key members of the crew lived in Northampton and Kettering.
Jez added: “ We are working on making a load of creatures for a project in Kuwait, and a very interesting event at the NEC in June, called Dinosaurs in the Wild. It’s an exciting time for us at Crawley.”
Jez said he got into animatronics by chance, just at a time when the art form was becoming a big thing in cinema.
He said: “I began doing a jewelry and silversmiths course - and by chance one evening I bumped into an old friend from Primary School at a bus stop in Kensington High Street who had just been working on Yoda from the Empire Strikes back Star Wars Film. I wanted to finish my course but I wasn’t really enjoying the hours - gradually I gravitated towards my friend and eventually got some work doing a film called Inseminoid, which I don’t recommend viewing!”
“Everything just escalated from there really and here we are!”