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Jabba's left-hand man hungry for an extra helping of StarWars.

Byline: Abbie Wightwick Reporter

HE WENT from playing an infamous giant slug-like supervillain from a galaxy far, far away to a city centre library in Cardi. And more than 30 years after nding fame as the man behind StarWars crime lord Jabba the Hutt, Toby Philpott says he can't wait for the next instalment to arrive.

e rst tantalising glimpse of the cast of the forthcoming movie - featuring original stars Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill - was this week released to the delight of the movie franchise's legion of fans.

It came as Toby, 67, retired from his job at CardiCentral Library - saying he would now have plenty of time to see the seventh instalment. e mild-mannered professional puppeteer-turned-technician is light years away from the evil Jabba, the slimy 600-year-old alien gangster lynchpin who rst appeared in Return of the Jedi, the third lm in the original StarWars trilogy.

e grandfather, who was responsible for the alien's left arm, head and mouth in the 1983 lm, says it was "great fun" playing an evil character - and still gets fan mail for his role.

"When someone says you can be as bad as you like it gives you real freedom," he said yesterday.

But being inside the shell of the slimy slug wasn't much fun.

"Jabba was a hard shell like a submarine," added Toby, who trained under famed Muppet creator Jim Henson.

"Me and David Barclay, the other puppeteer, climbed inside each day. I put my left arm out and David his right. We juggled together to get in sync."

" Filming from 8.30am to 6pm with only short cee and lunch breaks the actors perched on stools inside the Jabba shell seeing nothing of the set, only what they were doing from a grainy CCTV camera inside.

But they never went out of character, insisting Cardi-born director Richard Marquand spoke to Jabba as an actor.

"at's the mysticism of puppetry. People have to forget it's a puppet," said Toby, who moved to Cardito work with contemporary troupe No Fit State Circus.

Recalling the moment he may, or may not have "inadvertently" licked Carrie Fisher's ear with slime, he said he can't wait to see the actress as Princess Leia again.

"We've never spoken about the ear licking," he confessed, "So I'm not sure what happened.

"e slime was disgusting. It was some weird concoction they wiped on the tongue and nostrils with a broom. ere was a scene where the tongue was wagged at her. I heard the director say 'go further'. We'd not rehearsed that. Suddenly he said 'cut'. I've never asked Carrie Fisher, but the story is Jabba licked her ear."

" Unfortunately, neither Toby nor his villainous alter-ego will be returning to the new movies, as Jabba was killed in Return of the Jedi. But Toby, who worked on Jim Henson's e Dark Crystal before being head-hunted to operate Jabba, is nevertheless looking forward to StarWars 7 as a return to form.

"I was a bit disappointed by the second trilogy," he admitted, "It was partly because it didn't have any of the stars and the computer eects made it cartoony."

Although he never got to know the original stars Toby, who headlines a Star Wars event in Aberdeen on Sunday, is certain they'll be excited too.

"Star Wars' success is that it's swashbuckling fun with goodies and baddies. It is exciting being part of that."


Toby Philpott played Jabba

Jabba the Hutt is confronted by Han Solo in Star Wars
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 1, 2014
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