Unsung Heroes: Gerald Home, Return Of The Jedi’s Man Beneath the Masks

rotj gerald home squid

This month’s Unsung Hero played not one, but two alien background characters in Return Of The Jedi, yet is probably even more well known to the general public for an iconic advertising role, which we’ll get to later. I’m talking about Gerald Home.

Belfast born Gerald Home moved to Australia at age 16, later attending Monash University there, studying to teach English as a second language, as well as French, Spanish and German. It was there he first got the acting bug. After a spell teaching these languages in Victoria, he returned to the UK, where he graduated from London’s Drama Studio in 1977. He went on to a varied career on stage, TV and in film, as well as mime and puppeteering.

An old friend, mime teacher Des Jones, got in touch to say he’d been tasked with putting together a group of performers to audition for the new Star Wars film, Revenge (as it was then) Of The Jedi. Nine performers were chosen to portray alien creatures, including Gerald, who was to play a creature simply known as “Squid Face”, an alien in Jabba’s entourage (later named as Tessek, and given a back story as Jabba’s accountant). Gerald also later played a Mon Calamari aide on Admiral Ackbar’s ship, and also in the briefing room before the attack on the Death Star.

George Lucas wanted to try some additional scenes with dialogue between Ackbar (Tim Rose) and an aide. Unfortunately, they didn’t make the final cut, Lucas feeling the aide’s mask wasn’t moving very well. Via this interview with Gerald, here are a call sheet for that day, and two pages of scripted dialogue he was to deliver with Tim Rose. Note the evening’s post shoot entertainment – a screening of Dragonslayer!

rotj call sheet gerald home

The yellow call sheet indicates this was a 2nd unit shoot, directed in this instance by George Lucas himself.

rotj script gerald home calamari aide 2

and:

rotj script gerald home calamari aide

Here is a picture of Gerald as the Mon Calamari, walking in the background:

rotj gerald home

Gerald didn’t spend hours in the make-up chair. He was dressed in his dressing room, and only wore the creature masks on set when needed. Make-up was applied to conceal visible skin beneath the masks. The Mon Calamari one was easy enough to take off and put on, but the Tessek mask was quite heavy, and had to be elaborately strapped on. The process was whittled down from 45 minutes to around 10. It was latex,  made to fit his head exactly by building up layers of foam rubber inside. Once he forgot to take his glasses off, which quickly steamed up inside the mask, almost causing him to fall into the open Rancor pit. His training taught him to show off the costume he was wearing, which dictated his posture: as Tessek, a hand on the hip swept back his cape, while the hunched look of the Mon Calamari meant he exaggerated his bent over, sloped posture, with fast, jerky movements. Here is a picture of Gerald and Tim Rose recreating a screen shot in front of a meticulously recreated set at a Japanese fan convention:

rotj gerald home and tim ackbar rose in japan

He can state with authority that for his scenes (apart from the blue screen space battle) “Richard Marquand directed ROTJ, so George Lucas wasn’t on set very often. He could have stayed all the time, but he didn’t. He didn’t interfere with how Richard Marquand directed the film.”

Animatronic technology doesn’t hold much appeal for him, he prefers masks and puppetry. “I think if you take away human beings, you take away warmth and all human qualities that make the audience get involved in the plot of the film. Good puppeteers always act THROUGH the puppet.”

The ultimate indignity for Gerald must be his most recognisible, non Star Wars role being replaced: for 10 years he was the weedy face of Mr Muscle kitchen cleaner spray, now he has been replaced by a muscle bound CG  character – “more machine now than man…“!

mr muscle

Originally posted 2013-09-29 16:21:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Read and post comments on this article