The Welsh Film Institute
An actor from Cardiff had a childhood dream come true when he landed a role in “Rogue One”, the latest Star Wars film. Samuel Victor, 35, has starred in several low budget British films, and has also been an extra in Hollywood productions, but a speaking part in Star Wars was light-years ahead of his previous roles. He shot the film back in July, but has been under strict non-disclosure agreements not to reveal the role to his fans until the film’s release this week.
“I received a call from my agent, saying if I could get to London the next day, I would be in Star Wars!”, says Victor. “It was very short notice. There must have been another actor lined up for the role, who had to drop out last minute. However it happened, I was over the moon!”
Victor had applied to be in last year’s entry, “The Force Awakens”, but never got the call back, though the team obviously kept his details on file for the new movie. “Several of my friends were extras in the last film, most of them were Storm Troopers. I was so jealous. I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan my entire life, and I would have loved to get on set – so when I got the call, I couldn’t quite believe it!”
Victor is a Disney affiliate and has previously worked with the Star Wars brand. He is a founding member of J.J. Abrams’ “Force For Change” charity, and helped organise several fund-raising events for them using the Star Wars characters, including media events at Hamleys toy store. He also recently completed a half marathon at Disneyland Paris where he posed for press photos with Storm Troopers and Darth Vader. “Force For Change” has raised over 4 million dollars for Unicef.
Upon arriving at Pinewood Studios, Victor assumed that he would be being an extra, and went to the large marquee where hundreds of people were queueing to get their costumes. “Someone came to the extras tent looking for me”, says Victor, “I couldn’t quite believe it when they said I’d come to the wrong place, and someone would be driving me to my trailer. I’ve never had my own trailer in a movie before!”
Victor was told that he would be playing a pilot of the new vehicle, the U-Wing. In some scenes he would be being a body double for another actor who couldn’t make the shoot. But his most exciting scene was a meeting of the Rebel Alliance, where he would get lines of his own, and appear alongside the main cast. U-Wing pilots wear a similar uniform to the old red X-Wing uniforms, but in blue. His character was referred to as the handle “Blue Two”.
“There was a scene with all the main good guys around a big table”, says Victor. “I was stood there right next to Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed and all the others. Disney had asked for the scene to be re-shot with more excitement and interjections from the smaller players round the table, and we were asked by the director to improvise. A few times, one of the production team asked me to repeat what I said, and then wrote it into the new script. By the end of the session they’d given me several lines of dialogue with all these amazing actors. They even asked me back to re-record the lines so they had a clean audio take for the edit”.
Secrecy was very high when making the film, and code-names were used for everything. Samuel says that the film was codenamed “Los Alamos” and a separate company was registered to hire and pay for the actors, codenamed “Lunak Heavy Industries (UK)”. “On set, they were very strict about not taking any photos, as they didn’t want any spoilers leaking to the press”, says Victor. “Every time you went to set they would check your pockets for phones or cameras. You even had to wear a big black poncho to hide your costume if you left the set. But as I had my own trailer, I could sneak a few selfies of me in my costume, just to prove to my friends that it was actually real”.
Samuel is aware that he might end up on the cutting room floor. “Of course, not every scene that is filmed makes it to the final cut, and even if the scene makes it in, that doesn’t mean that my lines won’t be removed to shorten the scene”. He will be attending a preview screening on Wednesday, and will be on the look out to see if he’s made the finished film. Whatever happens, he says he is just glad to have been involved. “Honestly, I’m just so excited to have been on set, meet the actors and have those memories. Felicity Jones was particularly amazing, a great actress and a lovely person. As a kid I used to play with Star Wars toys all the time, and now they are making action figures and Lego men based on the U-Wing pilot – I have my own action figure!” he laughs.
Looking forward to 2017, Samuel will be starring alongside Lucy Pinder in “Live Justine”, and has just signed up to shoot two features alongside some big Hollywood names. He is also a rapper who has previously worked with multi platinum artists including D12 and R Kelly. After rapping with grime artist Stormzy whilst working on “Brotherhood”, he will be releasing a new music video to promote the DVD release of the film. Looks like Star Wars may have shot his career into another galaxy!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is on general release from 15th December.
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