of Empire: A Visit to the Set of Empire Strikes Back
In this article
we will be viewing a transcript from the private conversations on
the set of Empire...
Back continues to remain as a golden standard for mature
fantasy films. While its story, its design and its special effects
were top-notch, these are expected and common today. What makes the
film special is the characters, the detail, the subtlety and the
attention to emotional drama, qualities rarely found in blockbuster
action films and the key to its continued endurance as a watershed
genre picture. While George Lucas came up with a great melodrama, it
was the screenwriting of Lawrence Kasdan that elevated this story to
new heights, giving characters wit and humor and three-dimensional
personality with his trademark dialog. However, while the script
itself is superb, the true elusive success behind the film remains
evanescent still--the actor chemistry and the fine hand of the
director to weave all the elements in the film into a serious
and believable emotional experience. In this, we owe a debt
of gratitude to Irvin Kershner.
Reading the shooting
script, I was amazed at how different it was from the final film.
While Kasdan's screenplay was good, the film as we know it did not
take shape until the cast and crew were assembled on sound stages in
England. Re-writing dialog and re-thinking construction of scenes
with the actors was a regular part of Kershner's method; the script
was a guidemap to the film but not a blueprint. Improvisation and
collaboration with the cast enabled the characters within the film
to come to life in a way more believable, and the drama of a scene
suddenly leapt out with a force
tenfold of its scripted power.
One of the best
examples of this is the carbon freezing scene. Not only the
emotional climax of Empire Strikes Back
, it stands as one of the most dramatic scenes in the franchise,
captured beautifully in
a delicate balance of
visuals and performance. It's become filmmaking lore how Harrison Ford improvised
the "I know" response to Leia's "I love you"--but
in fact, Kershner and the actors basically re-thought the entire scene (watch
closely--Ford actually came up with the line in Kershner's trailer, and
then improvised it during shooting). It is efforts like this that gave
the film a mature emphasis on characterisation--the film was
constructed as if a regular drama with an ensemble cast, as if it was
anything Robert Altman might make, only in a fantasy world. Efforts like
this also caused the film to go way over budget and behind
schedule--the first shot of this scene was not completed until the
afternoon, even though the cast and crew had assembled
before eight in the morning.
That day was
recorded by journalist Alan Arnold. In what was an unusual
move at the time, Arnold had director Irvin Kershner wear a wireless
microphone in his shirt, so that his conversations could be
recorded. What we got was an insight into the creative process
that is rare and unprecedented.
For a primer, here
is the scene as scripted:
379. INT. CARBON-FREEZING CHAMBER
- CLOUD CITY - BESPIN.
With Boba Fett in
the lead, a squad of Stormtroopers bring in Han, Leia and Chewie.
Strapped to Chewie's back, with only his head, torso and one arm
assembled is Threepio. Threepio's head faces the opposite direction
from Chewie's and the droid is constantly twisting around in a vain
effort to see what's happening. His one attached arm is animate and
expressive, intermittently pointing, gesturing and covering his
eyes. The remaining pieces of his body are roughly bundled to the
Wookiee's back. His legs and other arm stick out at odd angles from the pack.
Vader turns to Boba Fett.
VADER I'll make
your goods easier for you to transport. Put Captain
Solo in the zero-cold chamber.
BOBA But the
chamber is for power goods. What if he doesn't survive? This slime is
worth a lot to me...
VADER The Empire
will pay for
the loss. Bring him forward!
Chewie lets out a
wild howl and attacks the Stormtroopers surrounding Han. Within
seconds many Imperial reinforcements have joined the scuffle. The
giant Wookiee is clubbed with laser weapons. From the instant of
Chewie's first move, Threepio is screaming in panic while he tries to protect
himself with his one arm...
What are you doing?...Oh, no...Don't hit me! No! He doesn't mean
it!...Calm down, you hairy
fool!...Ouch! I didn't do anything...
are about to
bash Chewie in the face.
Chewie, no! Stop it, Chewbacca!
Han breaks away from
his captors. Vader nods to the guards to let him go and the
pirate breaks up the fight.
Oh, yes...stop, stop. Thank heavens...
Han gives the
Wookiee a stern
look, then a big hug.
HAN Save your
strength for another time, Chewie,
when the odds are better.
Han winks at the Wookiee.
Chewie barks a doleful farewell.
HAN I'm sure I'll
see you again, too. Keep well. (turns to guard) You'd better
chain him until it's over.
In a flash the
guards have slipped binders on Chewbacca, who is too distraught to
protest. Han gives his furry friend a final hug and turns to
Princess Leia. He takes her in his arms and she
gives him a passionate kiss.
LEIA ...I love
you. I couldn't tell
you before, but it's true.
HAN ...just remember
that, 'cause I'll be back...
He sheds his cocky smile and gives her a soft kiss on the
forehead. Tears roll down Leia's face as she watches the dashing
pirate walk to the hydraulic platform. Lando, too, watches with
anguish. Imperial guards position Han on the platform and quickly
bind his arms and legs. They step back. Han looks one final time at
his friends and suddenly the platform drops. Han disappears into the
steaming vat of sub-zero cold.
Already, you can see
a vast difference between what is in the film. This scene was filmed
on Thursday, June 21st, 1979 on stage 5 at Elstree studios in
England. Below is a remarkable excerpt from Alan Arnold's
transcript, which appeared on pages 131-147 of his
journal, Once Upon A Galaxy, now sadly out of print
(Ebay is your friend). What you'll see is a rare inside look at
moviemaking from a creative point of view, mainly in terms of
performance. I don't think anyone can doubt Kershner an "actor's
director" after reading this. You will see his disposition and
approach resembles more of a theatrical stage director than what is
normally found on big-budget movie sets, giving attention to actors
and dialog, playing scenes loosely and discovering moments through
improvisation. You'll also see the precarious balance of
elements--affording attention to the the gorgeous camera and
lighting of Director of Photography Peter Suschitzsky, re-working a
script that has not had all its potential harvested, coping with a
work environment that is logistically complicated and even
dangerous, allowing input from actors, dealing with creative clashes
and hot tempers, hearing designer Norman Reynold's discussing
sketches for a scene yet to be shot, and even trying to be
courteous to a bothersome David Prowse promoting his book. At times
stressed, usually enthusiastic and always energetic, Kershner is
clearly a man
in command of his craft.
The day begins at
eight AM. The first order of business is to block the scene with
actors and decide on lens choice and camera placement. As the
technicians set up the scene, Kershner figures out just
how the scene will play...
Stage 5, Elstree
Arnold sets the scene: "We enter Stage
5, already throbbing with activity, and climb a stairway to the
central platform where Kersh joins director of photography Peter
Suschitzsky, who is lighting the set for the long shot of the
group's entrance. They take turns looking through the
We've got to be very careful on this set never to put the frame-line
on any strong horizontals. If we do, the light will be there as we
follow the action, jumping in and out of that frame-line, and that
worries me. Little things like that are so important. This set is so
peculiar that we've got to keep watching tiny relationships of light
like that. I'm also worried whether the set is too bright back
(suspecting, perhaps, that Kersh is playing on the mike) I think
you’re just worried about everything.
IK: Yes, I
am worried about everything. Everything is important,
especially little things like that.
PS: I thought that
light was just fine.
IK: I want to steam
it all up. I would like to see figures through steam. I
know that’s hard on the light because steam washes your light out,
but we’ve got to do something. (Kersh proceeds to direct the
shifting of various lights.) We have to be very careful. Go back a
touch. Now go all the way back. I want the camera back there out of
the way. Yes, put it there. Move the lights. I have to move
everything! I want it all hazy, all figures in space. I must do this
now before I position my actors. Once I get them into position we’ll
take two cameras and do the action, the whole bloody
arrives, looking very much like student who has strayed off
morning. I tried to call you yesterday to talk with you about the
scene. I was working on it and discovered a lot of things that look
really illogical the way it’s presently set up.
HF: Yeah, it certainly
is. And you’ve got one other problem. I tried to tell the art
department about it some weeks ago. My shirt is
IK: That’s no
problem. They’ll take the shirt off you when you go down into the
HF: But this
shirt has no sleeves.
HF: Do you want
us to talk in your trailer?
but I want to set up the scene of your entrance first. This is
really your scene, Harrison. It affects you more than the
others. So we’ll lock ourselves away and
HF: Well, I’ll
go to make-up.
(Harrison leaves for make-up and Kersh
prepares a lineup.)
IK: All right.
I need a stormtrooper here, a stormtrooper there, and I want one
Tromblin, the first assistant director, is beside Kersh
IK: He doesn’t
IK: That one
over there. Was he there yesterday?
IK: Well, he
must stop moving his head. I’m sure he wasn’t there yesterday. (He
positions another stormtrooper.) Would you stand back please? Stand
right in the corner, but don’t fall off. If you do fall off, there are boxes below. You
won't get hurt. Whoops! Don’t stand quite so close or you will fall off.
positions Jeremy Bullock, the actor playing Boba
come along and stand here. Hold it. Hold it. That’s it, Jeremy. Try that. I
also need a couple of guards. We have some, don’t
DT: We’ve got
IK: Two is all
right. (Turns to Suschitzky) Something’s wrong. Can you lower one of
those lights on the stairway? It would be nice to have it dim on the
PS: I can’t
make it much dimmer without putting filters on, and there isn’t the
light for more filters.
IK: Oh, I
PS: You are
having much more steam than we thought. It makes for very low
IK: I wish I
could have taken those lights out altogether. I want the lights to
float. Just float.
further positioning and the effect is again
through camera) I wonder where the strongest shot is when bringing
the entire group in. Is there no other way than along the ramp?
(Suddenly spotting an angle from the top of a flight of stairs
leading from the platform.) Wait a minute. There’s something nice
here. High angle! Oh, yes, this works. I never looked up here
before. That’s the trouble with this set, you can't get away from it
to look at it! Watch it, Dave!
narrowly missed falling off the set. About an hour has been absorbed
by the time the main camera angle has been chosen and the guards
positioned. Kersh is now looking at the set-up through different
lenses; the numbers he refers to are the focal lengths in
millimetres of the lenses.)
IK: Oh, boy.
I’ve got it. Got it! Hold it. I saw something really interesting
through the 150. You can see their feet. Look what
PS: You want to
be in that tight?
PS: You don’t
want to see a wide angle?
IK: It looks
good this way. Let me look at it with the 100 now. The 100 looks
great, too. All right put a 100 in.
PS: Maybe we
can combine the two.
IK: Yes, let’s
have a couple of cameras up there.
(He calls for a
run through with stand-ins.)
IK: Action! I
like the heads going out for a moment, then the heads appearing,
then going out. And this grab thing [the tong] just rising as they
come around. I like the fact that all this is out of
you’re here, have a look at a 50.
IK: It becomes
just an ordinary walk with a 50. With a long lens it’s not an
ordinary walk. I want to bring them in on some crazy shot so you
don’t know where they are. They stop. You see them look over. Then
I’ll cut in a couple of close-ups of Vader and Lando. When Vader
says, “Put him in the carbon freeze…” Boom! Cut to a close-up of the
reaction. Cut back to the long shot as the Wookie goes crazy.
Everything starts happening. People start running. So, for a moment,
you see the whole thing. But I want to withhold it. I don’t want to
give it all at one go.
later the decision is still proceeding.)
IK: Could the
whole group come here please? You see, it works very well on the
long lens. Right to the point where they’re in back of this grab
thing as it’s moving. Cut to here and they’re going down and the
thing continues to move.
calls all the actors together to warn them yet again about the
dangers of falling off the set. They try another run-through. The
noise is cacophonous. There is shouting and banging as carpenters
and grips put final touches to the set.)
IK: Excuse me,
could you leave one stromtrooper here? Just one. Give me a
stromtrooper to stand right here.
DT: (To second
assistant director) Steve, I need another
wondering if we want that tong thing down…actually it could be
DT: Weren’t we
going to have it come up as we pan across on the longer
IK: Yeah, but
the problem is it’s such a big thing it cuts everything out. It
becomes a great black mass with no definition on it. It would be
interesting to bring them in when the tong is moving, so they’re
hidden behind it as the pit closes up. No, that’s too
DT: Why don’t I
have them do it once so you can look at it?
IK: I’ll tell
you what’s better. Let’s have the tong down as they come in and take
their positions. Then we cut from their point of view and you see
the thing rise up, revealing Vader standing there with Lando. He
says, “Put them in the carbon freeze.” See what I
DT: Keep the
IK: No, no, I
want it down. Actually, the tong should just go down to the
platform, just to touch the platform.
DT: And the
platform stays there until Han actually gets on
DT: (To a
stagehand) Les, bring the claw down as far as it will
IK: No, the
claw. The claw right down to the floor.
DT: Les, please
lower the claw.
(Exasperated) Just drop it down.
(They wait for
the clawlike tong to be lowered)
through camera) Yes, I’ve got an interesting pattern going now. With
the tight lens I’ll take them all the way down till they disappear
behind the claw, which is moving. They disappear behind it. We cut
to a shot across that claw. As it rises, you see
DT: Excuse me
interrupting. That claw. Does it go right into the
himself) Just put it down!
DT: Well, wait
a minute, Kersh.
impatient) Leave the platform where it is. Just drop the
DT: You don’t
want to have it tucked in the platform?
IK: That’s all I need! Please leave it right where it
DT: Leave it
where it is for the moment, Les. (To Kersh) Do you want to see the
group in position?
DT: Come in,
Reynolds, the production designer, has been waiting in the wings for
a chance to talk to the director. He seizes the opportunity provided
by the change of set-up to show Kersh a sketch of a window to be
used on another set in a future scene.)
Reynolds: It’s just a sketch. I never have time to give you a
finished drawing, I’m afraid, but it’s this question of the window.
Do we want a round window or a square window?
IK: Don’t we
want a round window?
NR: That’s why
I’m anxious that it comes to your attention now. We need enough of
the window to take in a long shot and then you need to go close,
IK: No. No. No.
NR: I just wanted to know. Gary has said he thinks it ought to be a
IK: Why should
it be a square window?
NR: Well, his
thinking is that a square window suggests the idea of being on a
IK: Don’t they
have round windows on ships?
NR: We could
make it whatever shape you like. We could make it round or whatever.
That was just his feeling.
IK: Well, first
of all, Luke is standing in front of it. We start very close, then
we pull back and we see the people watching him. There they are,
this whole group against this wonderful scene of the fleet. The
scene is really out there through the window. Then Leia walks past
him. We go with her coming to the window and standing looking out
and…I don’t know, would a square window look elegant
NR: I’ll have
to make one.
(Now the scene is Kersh’s trailer.
Harrison has arrived to talk further about the scene to
be filmed this morning. It is )
IK: You see, Harrison, one thing I discovered that is going to affect
us crucially is the fact that you have no way of knowing that you are going to be put in the carbon
freeze. They bring all three of you in, but you don’t know anything.
The princess doesn’t know anything. She just senses danger. None of
you has ever been in this place. You don’t know what this place is.
That’s the reality of the situation. So we have to add some
there’s something missing.
HF: I don’t
have any lines. I’m on my way to an appalling fate and, well, it’s
no time for a speech, but surely I should say something, try to talk
my way out.
IK: You’ve got
heavily armed people all around you. Why do you think that Chewie
and Leia have been brought in, too? I know why they are brought in.
It came to me last night. They are brought in so you will not make
problems. If you try to make a break, if you try to jump them, try
to do anything so as not to go into that pit, they’ll kill Chewie
and Leia, too. They use them to subdue you.
HF: But they
don’t use them well enough, do they? Chewie tries to fight them off,
but I don’t raise a hand to help him.
actually you stop him so he won’t get himself
HF: But I stop
him before I know that if he fights
he’ll get himself killed. It’s in Han’s character to join Chewie in
the fight. The bargain I’m likely to keep quiet for is if I’m
convinced that Leia is safe because Lando has taken a shine to
IK: So we need
HF: No, all I
have to do is ask Lando “What is going to happen to
IK: “What is
going to happen to them?”
HF: No, to
IK: All right,
HF: And he
says, “She’s too beautiful to harm.” Something on that level. You
know what I mean?
IK: He could
say, “I’ll see she’s all right.”
HF: How about
“She will be mine”?
IK: It’s a
little, well…besides, by that time you know he’s stuck on
HF: Yeah, but
how does the scene play? There’s no time for thought
Lando walks in with you. No, let’s say he’s already there. Before
Vader says, “Put him in the carbon-freezing chamber,” you come to a
stop and…no, I’ve got another idea. He comes from the foreground.
Suppose that before Vader comes in, Lando comes over to you and
says, “Listen, fella, I just want to tell you,” but he doesn’t know
how to phrase it. Nevertheless, you understand his position. You
don’t like it but you understand it. No, that won’t work either.
That assumes you know that you’re the one that’s going to go into
the pit. That’s no good.
HF: Let’s just
look at this, okay? Vader says, “Put him in the carbon-freezing
chamber” and Boba Fett says, “What if he doesn’t survive?” It takes
a moment for everyone to realize how callous it all is. But there
are still questions to be answered. For example, what about
IK: You still
assume they’re going to do something to Leia, too, but you’re the
one who’s going to be the guinea pig.
(Harrison rummages in Kersh’s fruit
HF: Are there
any more apples?
IK: Have this
one. It’s been here a week but it’s still good. As I was saying,
they’ve brought Leia and Chewie along to make you
HF: But I don’t
think there should be any “buddy buddy” stuff with
IK: Of course
not. Lando, after all, is acting out of expediency. Wait. There is
something interesting developing here. “What’s up, buddy?”… “What’s
up, pal?” That’s your line to Lando.
HF: But I come
in with my hands chained! Surely that gives me an idea of what’s up.
I’m the only one who’s manacled.
IK: Right. But
I don’t think you should be manacled when they send you down to the
HF: I think I
trying to devise the line.) “What’s up, buddy?” “What’s up,
HF: I think I
should be manacled. It won’t stop the
love scene. I mean I don’t have to put my arms around Leia to kiss
her. I can’t see how they would indulge in more than a straight kiss
in such circumstances. It has to be rough and brisk and over
I don’t intend to mess around…”What’s up, buddy boy?”… in the love
HF: As I pass
by her, I think Leia ought to say very simply, “I love
IK: (Tries it
out) “I love you.” And you say, “Just remember that, Leia, because
I’ll be back.” You’ve got to say, “I’ll be back.” You must. It’s almost
HF: If she says
“I love you,” and I say “I know,” that’s beautiful and acceptable
right. You know what? I may keep Vader out of this till the end.
When all this stuff is over, Vader walks right in and all he says is
“Put him in the carbon-freezing chamber.” Why should he watch all
this other stuff going on?
HF: He’s there
because he’s telling Boba Fett what he intends to do with
IK: Then I
guess he has to watch
HF: He could
IK: No, he
couldn’t. There’s no place to walk. (Laughs) I’m really stuck
HF: I think he
could walk out and Boba Fett be the one to say, “Put him in
IK: No, no, no,
no…Boba can’t…No, no, no, no.
HF: Well, Vader
has given me to Boba Fett.
wrestling with Boba Fett’s lines) “What if he doesn’t survive? He’s
worth a lot to me.”
HF: I’m going
to get a cup of coffee.
IK: “What if he
(Kersh tries out several variations in
Harrison’s absence and when the actor returns he’s still
IK: “What’s up,
pal or buddy?”… “What’s up, pal?” That’s nice. It’s ironic. And he
says, “You’re going to be frozen.” I don’t like frozen. “You’re
going into the carbon-freezing chamber.” And he knows you’re likely
to die if you go in there.
HF: I would
know it, too!
being put into carbon freeze.” How about that? And you ask, “What
about them?” indicating Leia and Chewie.
HF: But I can’t
say, “What about them?” I said the same thing in the cell scene
we’ve already shot.
IK: So, instead
of saying, “What about them?” you say, “They’re putting me in the
carbon freeze,” and Leia asks why and you say, "It’ll make me behave
HF: You don’t
like “To make me more polite”?
IK: Polite is
too obscure. Behave is much better
because you’ve been a rascal, a thorn in their side. It implies a
form of punishment. Leia says, “It could kill you,” and that sets
Chewbacca off. (Reprising lines so far) “What’s up, pal”… “You’re
being put in the carbon freeze”… “Why?”… “It’ll make you behave.” It
HF: Leia’s got
to be the one to recognize how sadistic it is.
IK: “What’s up,
pal?” “You’re being put in the carbon freeze.” “Why?” “It’ll make
you behave.” No, it's too clever. The problem is I’ve got a two-part
HF: I still
don’t like “It’ll make me behave.”
IK: How about,
“It’ll make me easier to transport.” You see, you’re a guinea pig, a
substitute for Luke Skywalker, but we can’t say
HF: “What’s up,
Together: “You’re being
put in the carbon freeze.”
Stage 5 again, Kersh is joined by Billy Dee
Williams: (Quietly) “You’re going to be put in the carbon freeze.”
(Louder) “You’re going to be put in the carbon
him to speak Han’s line) “Why?”
BDW: “To keep
IK: (As Boba
Fett) “But that could kill him.” When Vader says, “Put him in the
carbon freeze,” you’ve got to look angry as hell.
Leia at this point?
be right here and we’ll work that out.
arrives. She has not yet been in make-up.)
IK: I’ve just
changed the scene.
CF: I know. Harrison told me.
IK: I’ve just
changed it because it didn’t answer one important thing: Why are you
there to watch the execution? Why don’t they take him out of jail
and just do it? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
only one reason. They do it to keep the victim from fighting, from
trying to take people with him. Vader doesn’t want problems like
that. He brings you along for that reason. You have to understand
that, or otherwise you would just stand there like a lump. So I’m
starting this scene in a situation where you have no idea why you’re
there. Han says to Lando, “What’s up, pal?” very sarcastically. Lando says,
“You’re being put in the carbon freeze.” But he feels miserable
about it, powerless. Vader says, “Put him in the carbon freeze” and
everybody goes nuts. I’ve changed the scene because the emphasis was
on ignorance before. I don’t want it to be on ignorance, I want it
to be on knowledge.
CF: No crying,
IK: The kissing
comes after. The change is just the beginning of the scene. The rest
is the same. So I’m just giving everybody their new script
(Disconcerted) I don’t know where I am now.
(Exasperated) All you did before was exclaim, “No!” That’s all you
had. Do you want to say, “No!”? You can say, “No!”
CF: Well, I
don’t know where I’ll be when he says, “Put him in the carbon
freeze.” I could do a big gesture. I could slap Lando or something.
How near is he to me?
IK: He’s right
next to you.
CF: Could I
IK: What you
really want to say is “You bastard,” but you can’t say
CF: Do I have
to be so polite? There’s too much politeness about. I could just
have the bad manners to slap him.
IK: All right,
all right. Great. You look up at Lando and just slap him. Okay? At
this point Vader says, “Put him in the carbon…” Now you can grab
Han. You don’t want to let him go. Let’s not be rational. I don’t
want to be rational at this point.
CF: Right, I
don’t want to let him go. But if I do
love him, how does he know I love him? Maybe if I threw myself in
front of him?
possible. Then, immediately, two stormtroopers come and start
pulling you away. That’s when Chewbacca goes crazy. It’s got to be
physical action. Lines don’t do it. So
let’s say you slap him. (Turns to Billy Dee) Billy, this is the most
difficult scene I have in the film. I’ve been going around looking
at each person’s point of view, right? I’ve got Boba Fett’s. I’ve
got Han’s. I know Chewie’s. I’ve got Vader’s. I’m trying to get what
Leia’s is. Right now she has absolute contempt for you. So instead
of talking to you, she’ll attack you and at that point two guards
come in to pull her off. You see?
BDW: Well, the
only thing I feel about that is I’ve been attacked so many times in
IK: It’s more
interesting than lines.
CF: He could
even slap me back.
IK: No, he
happened to my line “I’m powerless”?
IK: That’s in.
You say it to her when you quiet her down. What you are trying to
convey is “I’m powerless, can’t you see, I’m powerless to help.”
You’re trying to make her understand.
CF: What you’re
really saying is that as a man you feel
means “I can’t.” I don’t think that’s right.
IK: (Turns to
Carrie) Now you see what a problem it creates if you slap
let’s just try it that way.
Carrie gives Billy quite a powerful whack.)
BDW: Don’t hit
me like that!
CF: Did it
BDW: Of course
CF: I’m sorry.
How do you hit
IK: You telegraph it to him.
BDW: If you
want to hit me, fake it.
(Concentrating on the lines again) “What’s up, pal?” “You’re being
put in the carbon freeze.” “Then why are they here?” “To keep you
DT: Do you want
these little pinpricks of steam coming through or
IK (His mind on
something else) Yeah, yeah.
IK: Can I have
my script? Somebody get my script. It’s on the floor. Thanks. Now,
this is what we’re going to do. “What’s up, pal?” “You’re being put
into carbon freeze.” “Why are they here?” “To make you behave.” Cut.
And at that point…
(The steam is
turned on. The noise is stupefying.)
IK: Oh, boy,
I’m getting out of here. This is too much.
DT: Turn the
steam down, boys.
IK: Turn it
down a little. (The noise of the steam dies down.)
DT: Sorry, but
we have to blow it up before we can turn it down.
IK: That’s all
right. At this pressure it doesn’t make much noise. So while
everybody’s getting dressed and ready, I’m going
IK: Oh, are
they? I gotta take a leak so bad.
DT: Well, go
have your leak while I blow this steam pressure up
IK: Yes, blow
it up. I’ll be right back.
DT: Watch it,
Kersh, you’re too near the edge.
noise of the steam at full pressure is heard
(It is and
they’re nearly set for a
Where is she? (Shouts) Carrie. (She comes over to him) We’re going
to shoot in about five minutes. What’s going to happen is this—I’ve
reversed the whole thing…
CF: You talk to Harrison about the changes, but I always feel that you
do it behind my back.
IK: No, no, no,
we haven’t rehearsed it yet.
CF: But I
didn’t know until now.
IK: I couldn’t
tell you before.
CF: I would
just like to be there when you decide to change
angry) You weren’t here to be there.
CF: (Shouts) I
was in the studio!
CF: I yelled at Harrison about the
IK: Don’t yell at Harrison. Yell at
CF: There’s no reason for me to be mad at
IK: All right,
all right. Okay!
CF: But when he
came to me with the changes, I got mad at him and it screws us
IK: Where is Harrison?
downstairs. We’re getting him up.
CF: He is very angry with me. And he has a total
right to be. I should not speak to him in that
starts; the voices get even louder.)
CF: Harrison shouldn’t have to come to me with
the changes. You should.
IK: He was
CF: I know he
was. And now I have to perform at half an hour’s notice scenes that
have been all changed.
IK: Your performance is not
CF: All I’m
asking is to be invited to watch you guys get a scene together. It
may not center around me, like this one doesn’t, but I’m involved in it.
IK: Okay. Are
you clear about it now?
CF: Yes, the
only thing I’m not clear about is…
himself) Jesus, what a day! I’ve got problems with the actors.
Everybody’s furious with everybody else…
(And still the
sound of steam. Perplexed and harried, Kersh struggles on, only to
be confronted by Dave Prowse, anxious to promote his newly published
physical-fitness book. It is not an entirely welcome
Kersh, I’m going to change the subject. Completely take your mind
off all this. My book is just out.
written a book called Fitness is Fun
and I want to give you a copy.
(Not very convincingly) I would love that.
DP: Yes, it
comes out on Saturday.
Lovely! You actually have the time to write a
DP: It took me
about nine months to write. It’s about exercising. It’s a textbook
on weight lifting. You would love it.
lifting! Well, okay, I’ll buy one. (As an aside into the mike) Whew!
Boy, this is some scene. It really is some scene.
talks to Prowse about Vader’s part in the scene.)
(Interrupting him) There’s going to be this big melee going on,
IK: No. There’s
no melee. There’s no melee at all! When they finish the dialog you
say, “Put him in the carbon freeze,” and that is the moment of
realization of what is about to happen. Leia is horrified. She holds
on to Han. Chewie goes berserk. Two
stormtroopers rush forward… (The steam effect is nightmarishly loud)
Jesus, I can’t work with all this steam
going. I have to shut all the steam off and do the rehearsal without
the steam. You could go nuts with this noise. I know they have to
check it all out but...
DT: (Shouts to
a stagehand) Steve, hold the steam.
relief) Thank you.
DT: Okay, let’s
go for a rehearsal. We do everything minus the steam. All right?
IK: Minus the steam!
DT: Hold your
positions and keep quiet.
IK: We have to
have the platform coming up, you see. The platform, not the tong. It should be coming
DT: Don’t you
want to rehearse the whole piece?
IK: No. I want
to do the shot now, up to the point where they do their
DT: All right,
gentlemen, we’re going to shoot. Take your positions,
IK: (To the
actors.) Just do the dialog as you did before.
going on, pal?”
being put into the carbon freeze.”
HF: “Well, why
are they here?”
BDW: “To make
IK: You see,
Billy, you really don’t know. You have to guess at what’s implied
when Lando says, “To make you behave.” It’s ambiguous. (The steam is
once more deafening) Oh, God! Who needs this?
DT: Stand by.
We’re almost ready to shoot.
IK: (An aside
into the remote mike) Almost ready for fate to take over! At least
nobody has fallen off the set yet. I even have an impulse to jump.
It looks so inviting.
anything can be heard above the steam.)
DT: We’re going
IK: I think
you’ve got a little too much steam coming up on the left. We’ve got
so many people up here. Jesus Christ! Is there anyone we don’t
the stage is at a peak.)
DT: Here we
IK: All right.
DT: (Very loud
(They go into a
IK: Cut! I
don’t know why, but I saw something move up there. Let’s go again
right away. Action!
(At the first
shot is achieved. They go
DT: That was a
beauty, wasn’t it, Kersh? Everything worked. The timing worked
(Disappointed) Boba Fett started walking too soon. He screwed me
DT: You want to
IK: Yes. Right
DT: One more
try, please. Now, Boba, wait till Vader stops before you go across.
Okay? Right, here we go. ACTION!
(The steam goes
on again and they do a third take.)
IK: Cut! Print
it. Print those last two takes.
away from the camera, followed by David Tomblin.)
DT: What did
you think of the last one, Kersh?
reluctant to give his opinion) Perfect. In fact, it was very nearly