Boba Fett in Star Wars: A New Hope (Special Edition)
Jump 15 (or so) years into the future and Mark Austin, one of those kids who cultivated a love for the most famous bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe, eventually put on the Mandalorian armor himself.
“Nobody knows I am Boba Fett,” said Austin via e-mail recently. “Not my neighbors and most work colleagues.
“I’d be an a–hole if that’s what I told people all the time.
“I don’t yearn for special treatment,” he added. “I’m just me. Mark the Star Wars fan.”
A Fett Fan First
A Star Wars fan from way back, Austin says that his initial introduction to the saga changed his life.
“I saw a clip on a TV game show–the Millenium Falcon pulled into the Death Star,” he said. “And I was hooked.
“I was drawn in as easily because my parents (my mother and stepfather) were splitting and so [Star Wars] became a haven to escape to.”
That “haven”–the world of animation and movies–expanded Mark’s horizons dramatically.
Just a quick glance at Austin’s IMDB page shows many professional experiences, all of which seems to pale in comparison to a single day on the set.
“As to what did it open up; the skies [became] the limit, as so much came from that single sci-fi movie’s release,” said Mark. “It opened my eyes to [the concepts of] story, animation, special effects, and so much more.”
But it’s his time in the Mandalorian armor, which will allow Austin to live forever in a galaxy far, far away.
“Absolutely,” said Austin when asked if Boba Fett was always his favorite character. “I was a loner kid that had friends but never a single best friend. I drifted in and out of school friend’s lives and then one friend (Robert Carroll), said he admired my independence.
“It became a badge of honor from that point on.”
There’s old West quality to Fett (in fact, sound effects supervisor Ben Burtt added the sound of spurs to Boba as he walked) and it makes sense that Austin admired other movie gunslingers.
“I loved spaghetti Westerns,” explained Austin. “Then this mail-away figure seemed to describe me to a T and reminded me of the ‘man with no name’ (Clint Eastwood).
“Everything about his costume was awesome,” he said of Fett, adding, “Instant favorite character.”
However, Austin admits that it was never even a thought of his to put on the armor.
“People ask: Must have been a dream come true?” mused Mark. “No. Back then there were no director’s cuts or special editions or added footage.
“There was no thinking or hoping that one day I might get to be added into this, my most favorite movie franchise.”
But then it happened in late 1994…
Before the Blue Screens
“Adrenaline is great for many things, but it stifles the memory,” said Austin to the many questions about the armor. “The jetpack was heavy and dug into the shoulders something fierce.
“The gauntlets also hung with gravity and made deep lines in my wrists.
“Then the visor was hard to see out of and fogged up a lot,” he continued. “But overall it was comfortable for a film costume.”
Amazing Career and Conversations
As fans might expect, to Austin the whole experience remains “surreal.”
“I know that sounds like not much of an answer but again the adrenaline was pumping, and I was concentrating on just doing what they asked of me,” he said. “[Then trying to be] as professional as possible.
“My biggest fear? Messing up and them using a real actor instead.”
In between movie, animation, and previsualization gigs, the convention circuit calls on Austin and he said he’s happy to have met some other folks who have found themselves on screen.
“Yes of course,” answered Mark, asked if he’d ever interacted with other Star Wars actors. “At conventions I’ve attended, plus some random run-ins.”
Ever the Star Wars fan, it’s clear that Austin has enjoyed these meetings, and can name a veritable rogues gallery from the films.
“Who? Mark Hamill, David Prowse, Phil Brown, Eric Walker, Felix Silla, John Morten, Dickie Beers…”
As for his interaction with Star Wars fans, Mark said it’s varied in its scope.
“Some are ecstatic, others are ‘oh cool,'” said Austin. “Some don’t know who Boba Fett is.
“People are skeptical,” he explained. “Then I get accused of lying on Twitter sometimes.
“It’s natural, and ‘a mixed bag’ is, I guess, the short answer.”
Long Live Fett
But there’s no chance Austin would trade that mixed bag for any number of credits. After all, Mark was made into an action figure.”Yes, one Kenner Fett figure came posed in that iconic pose from Docking Bay 94,” he said. “I assume that’s me.”
And, like many Fett fans, Austin makes one more assumption.
Asked if Fett’s fall into the Sarlacc was fatal, he said, “Of course, no.”
My research for this article had me scouring the web, and most often finding my answer via the Boba Fett Fan Club. The below video was produced by the group in 2015 and was the impetus for this piece. JB