Frazer Diamond | Jawa | Star Wars

Frazer Diamond is one of the youngest persons to have appeared in a Star Wars movie.
At the age of 7, he and his brother Warwick were featured as Jawas in Star Wars: A New Hope, a movie where their father, the legendary Peter Diamond, was the Stunt Co-ordinator.
In the following interview Frazer talks about his memories regarding that Galaxy far, far away...



Can you tell how you got your part in Star Wars: A New Hope?

Good old-fashioned nepotism, I'm afraid. My father was the Stunt Co-ordinator on the original trilogy.

In which Jawa scenes did you feature? What do you remember of your scenes?

I'm only in one small scene. 3PO and R2 have been captured on Tatooine, and they've just been reunited in the Sandcrawler. A door opens behind them and three Jawas scurry on to the scene. The lead Jawa points towards the droids, and his subordinate swings a gun at them. 3PO cries out "Don't Shoot!". And that's me, swinging the gun...
It's five to ten seconds of screen time, at most. But it's memorable, for the gun and the reaction from 3PO. So that's fun. We were filming with Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker. Rusty Goffe played the lead Jawa, and my brother Warwick was the third. Jack Purvis was a Power Droid stalking around the set, too.
Mainly, I remember the heat. I've said this before when folks ask me. We had heavy costumes, big cloaks, black material masking our face and a pair of light bulbs strapped to our heads. It was really hot under those stage lights.
I also remember, it was tedious. There was a lot of waiting around. We were On Call for three or four days, I think. Warwick and I spent a great deal of that time in the dressing room, waiting, whilst they filmed other scenes. And my father was off filming stuff on different stages, so we were left reading our "Whizzer & Chips" comics... waiting...

How did George Lucas direct you?

I was seven years old, so that kind of detail is a bit vague now. I don't recall there being much direction at all, for us. I just remember a quiet man in charge.

Did you witness the filming of other scenes for the movie?

I was lucky in that I spent more time on the original Star Wars stages than my brothers (I have five). I think, maybe, I was at the right age to get bitten by the film bug. I was fascinated. During filming of New Hope I toured the Death Star stages. I remember they were huge, to a little guy like me. And very shiny. I couldn't believe how shiny the floor was. I also saw them filming in the Millennium Falcon cockpit, and the Trash Compactor scenes.
I've a story I've told before, on my first day visiting the set I was met by these two guys in Stormtrooper outfits, and one of them scooped me up whilst they talked to my father, and they ruffled my hair. It was Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill. But back then, they weren't famous, and that whole Star Wars phenomenon didn't exist... It's a strange world...

Did any strange, remarkable or funny things happen on the set? Can you share some memories?

Well, I screwed up my first take. Just before we started shooting, Rusty had been fooling around with us, showing us a stupid Jawa Shuffle. But I thought he was serious. So cometh moment, there's the cry of "Action!", and I shuffled and jerked on to the stage.... Oops..

Why weren’t you involved in the two Star Wars sequels?

There was nothing for me on Empire. I was too young for anything. I went on set a lot, though. Just hanging out, whilst my father was at work. I toured the stages, behind the scenes, saw them filming the Wampa scene, and Luke's confrontation with Darth, on Bespin, when he loses his hand. Action stuff, mainly, because that's what my father was there for...
And on Jedi, I was lucky to go over to the States on holiday, during filming. So we were with the cast and crew at Yuma and Crescent City. Six weeks with Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker... It was terrific... Special...

You were very young when you played a Jawa. I bet your friends loved Star Wars and had the Star Wars toys. How did they react when they heard you were actually in the movie and that you had your own toy (the Jawa action figure)?

I'm not so sure that Star Wars bug was that big, here in the UK. At least, not at first. Sure, my friends thought it was cool that I was in this big film. And I used to wear my New Hope T-shirt to school - the McQuarrie triangle design, with Luke and his lightsaber. I wish I'd kept that now!... But I don't think my classmates were that fussed, to be honest. It became more of a deal as I got older. After Empire and Jedi, as a teenager, it became a bit of a party game for them. "This is Frazer, he was in Star Wars..." And of course, here we are, thirty-something years on and we're still talking about it...
By the way, I actually had one of those super-rare Jawas, all those years ago. We went to Gary Kurtz's party one year, and there was a Star Wars Treasure Hunt. I got a bunch of figures, including a Jawa in a plastic cape. It went missing somewhere, along the way. Another item I really should have kept hold of. I've still got all the other Palitoy/Kenner toys, though. And a cardboard Death Star!...


Unmasked Jawas Warwick Diamond and Frazer Diamond with an unmasked Anthony (C-3PO) Daniels in the Jawa sandcrawler

Unlike many other people involved with Star Wars you haven’t attended fan conventions over the world. Is there a specific reason for this?

It's just not for me, I'm afraid. I'm uncomfortable with that kind of thing. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. I was very, very fortunate to have a father working in the industry. I didn't need any talent, and I didn't even have to audition. And we're talking about five seconds of screen time. I just feel awkward trading off that. Even this interview is weird for me. But I get asked all the time.... I get autograph requests, as well, and I'm afraid I normally decline these too. But in my absence, a few silly stories have emerged online to fill the void. There's an old story I refused to sign stuff after I saw one of my autographs for sale on eBay, which is just not true. I used to sign, back when my father was still alive and appearing at conventions. But stuff went missing in the post and I also had one or two aggressive letters from so-called fans that really unnerved me, so I'm afraid I walked away from it... But there we go, I'm here now, talking Star Wars. We all move on...

How do you look back at your work on Star Wars?

It wasn't work, of course. It was just a lucky few days in my life. But it's fun to walk past those big TV screens in stores, once in a while, and catch your little moment playing again. Absolutely, I like that. It takes me back. I learnt an awful lot, at an early age. People go to Film School for this stuff now. And then there's everything my father did, not just on the original trilogy, but on Raiders, Highlander, Princess Bride. I'm very proud of that. It irks me that his contribution is all-too often overlooked nowadays. I've seen lots of articles only talking about Bob Anderson's role on the films, as if he worked solo. But my father was the Stunt Co-ordinator, he arranged all the action, and he and Bob worked together to train the actors and choreograph those sword fights... It's worse with Raiders... He's been airbrushed out of that film altogether, in some quarters...

You currently run an animation website called Toonhound.com. What is according to you the main reason every reader of this interview should immediately check out this site?

Well, I'd say that if you're at all interested in British animation you might find some useful information on the site. I've kept it online for eleven years now. I was just filling a void at first. There was nowhere to go for that kind of info - series credits, episode titles, news, etc. The IMDB was very sparse, Wikipedia hadn't yet started up, and everywhere else seemed to concentrate solely on the nostalgia aspect. I wanted to join the dots, celebrate these productions whilst providing meat and potatoes information, and to steer folks on to other similar shows and new productions. And I'm still doing that today...

Are there any other things you’d like to do in the future? Maybe a cameo in the planned Star Wars television series?

I'm no actor, sadly. I write and I cartoon. I always seem to have umpteen projects on the go. Like so many people, I've come within a whisker of several film commissions. I had a TV series with a greenlight in the UK. It was sitting on the table at Disney for nine months, until they passed on it and the financing collapsed... That kind of thing... It's just been nearly, nearly, nearly there for far too long... Right now, I'm freelance cartooning and writing. Bread and butter stuff. I'm also working on the first draft of a Victorian adventure book and I've a little graphic novel project that's nearing completion... So I'm still chasing!...