I’ve been sitting here for 20-minutes (more like 20 days, actually) trying to come up with the right words to describe YouTube sensation and Star Wars afficionado, Maude Garrett.
Frankly, she’s a force of nature–I mean how do you describe “wind” without experiencing the phenomenon that is the wind–so, I’ll just show you.
Hang on tight:
Now, with that visual in mind, I asked Maude (who shares a lot of constant-content-maker tendencies with MSW’s Steele Saunders, who–thank you, Steele–set up this interview for me), how she describes herself.
The results were, of course, entertaining. JB
Maude on Maude
How would you describe yourself? As a fan? As a reporter? As a person?
My bio says ‘Geek Host and Celebrity Interviewer,’ so I guess that’s a good start! I’m an Aussie living in LA with my dog Zelda. I freelance hosting online shows like Alpha Book Club for Nerdist/Geek & Sundry’s Alpha programming; I run my own business called Geek Bomb which is a YouTube channel, website, and merchandise, I host red carpets for outlets like BBC America and I try to game in my downtime… when I have downtime.
I started in the entertainment industry as a host on Nickelodeon in Australia back in 2006. It wasn’t until I quit in 2009 that I decided to come out of my ‘geek closet,’ much to the dismay of my agent who declared that by talking about Star Wars as much as I did – it would cost me the few jobs that were available in Australia. So I started a blog called Geek Bomb as a pseudonym… which quickly led to making videos and covering geeky conventions and writing book reviews. I did this while balancing a career in TV, radio, and commercials.
I moved to LA in 2013 armed with a job host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Hot Hits where I traveled the globe talking to celebrities about their upcoming movies. It was INSANE. I also continued to grow Geek Bomb. When the show wrapped up 2-years later, I explored more hosting opportunities online, where I would get paid to talk about movies and video games. It’s all been a pretty sweet ride.
Garrett on the Galaxy
What is your earliest memory of Star Wars? What do you think drew you to the franchise?
I was at home, sick, when I was about 10 or 11. My parents were full-time workers, so Mum deemed that Star Wars was the perfect baby-sitter, so she rented all three on VHS and told me the order to watch them. Seven hours later, I was obsessed. My whole family are geeks, so we bonded over the original trilogy. I saw the digitally remastered Return of the Jedi in cinemas on my very first ‘group date’ – I dragged a bunch of my friends to see this movie they’d never heard of before. They hated it.
I loved every second of it.
Skipping ahead, a bit: What were your hopes and dreams for Episode VIII?
For it to not be predictable or replicate the structure and story of a previous Star Wars! The Force Awakens was a great re-introduction into the Star Wars universe after such a lengthy departure (especially from any Luke Skywalker saga), but it was very safe to me.
TLJ did all of that, but did interviewing the cast change your expectations before its release?
Interviewing the cast gave me NO insight into what the movie entailed remotely! But did I discover that Daisy Ridley is the best, and Laura Dern is my soul sister.
Have you interviewed Rian Johnson one-on-one?
We’ve actually met a few times and follow each other on Twitter! He’s such an easy-going, intelligent, sweet man.
Does Rey’s parentage matter?
I feel like to understand Rey, we need to understand her story, and that included her elusive childhood. We’re getting to know what motivates her, how much endurance she has, her determination and willingness… but anyone who was practically abandoned on a desert planet must have MORE to explore (surely there’s a pun there)
Maude’s Star Wars Canon
What are your favorite SW properties (film, show, book, comic)? Why?
I thoroughly enjoy reading and have read a few of the canon novels like Thrawn, Lost Stars and Lords of the Sith. Listening to them on audiobook is far more rewarding since they edit in actual music and SFX from the movies to aid the story, so it’s an adventure in itself. Lost Stars is the book I recommend the most – it’s a Romeo & Juliet-esque love story between a Rebel and Imperial. It puts faces and backstory behind the kinds of characters you usually see in masks. As much as I loved learning about the mastermind that is Thrawn, and delving into the dynamic that is the Emperor and Vader… it’s actually nice to explore whole new characters in the Galaxy too; where the story is far more open without being restricted by canon.
I’ve read a few of the comics too, but my imagination is too vivid that I’d rather create the visuals myself and get lost in words.
Are you a gamer?
I’ve played a lot of the video games too – my earliest memory is in 1994 playing “TIE Fighter.” It was pretty hard for me to get my bearings since I was a kid, but it wouldn’t stop me from playing it over and over. I was obsessed with “Pod Racer” and clocked the game with my brothers. But my favourite Star Wars game ever without fail is “Knights of the Old Republic.” I played it on my first boyfriend’s Xbox in 2005 while he was at band practice. Then again on my PC in 2008. Then my laptop in 2014. Then my iPad in 2016. You get the drift. That’s such a fantastic RPG.
How well do you think Star Wars has integrated the various properties? Do you miss the EU?
I think Star Wars (especially Pablo and the canon team) have done a great job mapping and then fleshing out the canon and introducing whole new storylines in both animation, written pieces, and movies. Star Wars Rebels was so well done (hats off to you Dave Filoni), and it really does cater for everyone. I never ventured toooo deeply into EU before the prequels – I remember seeing books in the library but struggling to grasp when it was set in the timeline. Not that any of that matters anymore, right? :/
If you had a chance to pen a stand-alone Star Wars film what would the subject be?
A YOUTH SITH ACADEMY! Jedi start their training when they’re infants… but it’s when they get a bit older that their grasp on the Force allows them to see the lengths it can stretch. There’s a stage in “Knights of the Old Republic” that I loved where you needed to go to a Sith Academy… it’s so juicy! Everyone is competitive, ambitious and trying to kill you. There’s SO much you can write about there!
TFA and Beyond
Do you harbor any concerns about JJ Abrams helming Episode IX? Ron Howard on Solo: A Star Wars Story? Rian Johnson’s new trilogy?
There seems to be so much weight placed on the director with Star Wars now – both from a fan perspective and now internally too. Disney seems to LOVE Rian Johnson, but this latest flick has caused the biggest uproar yet! And with Solo… they canned the directors and replaced [them with Ron Howard]. I do worry about tonal inconsistencies when they have multiple writers and directors on each movie or within a trilogy, but I can’t imagine any of this is easy. I’m actually not all too excited for Solo but will save my thoughts once I see the trailer.
Talk about recent Star Wars events: Favorite? What were your impressions?
The Star Wars Premiere – it was SIIIIIICK!! Walking the carpet, I saw all the stars of the movie getting interviewed down the press line (that’s usually where I’d be) including Gwendoline Christie who was awe-inspiring in a silver gown. I saw Edgar Wright ducking through quietly, and Zach Braff and his Scrubs bestie Donald Faison lapping it all up.
Seeing Kelly Marie Tran getting emotional was so raw and real.
If you watch one video this year, make it the one where I show @LauraDern (and #OscarIsaac) pictures of my Halloween costumes where I dressed up as her character Dr Ellie Sattler from #JurassicPark… including my ‘run’ video 😬 @GeekBomb @starwars pic.twitter.com/30b0Hiquq7
— Maude Garrett (@maudegarrett) December 21, 2017
Any negatives about covering Star Wars?
Covering Star Wars can be tricky, but then again having an opinion on the internet is like running the gauntlet. I usually do reaction videos on all Star Wars trailers, reviews once the movie is out and for new video games… but have not gone in-depth for The Last Jedi on my personal platforms. I’ve spoken about it in length for a few podcasts but gave my spoiler-free review via Twitter before the movie came out. This movie, in particular, seems extra heated, and even though people are adamant and DEMANDING I do a review, I don’t feel like I have to explain my reasons why I liked the film (even though I have, in-depth, on two shows). Some die-hard Star Wars fans can feel attacked and almost betrayed if you have an opposing view to them and can respond aggressively. I love that block button. Coping with the crap actually gets harder and harder each year, but I have pretty thick skin. I’ve read so many negative things about me and have had so many abusive things said to me, that it’s practically white noise at this stage.
Tell me about interviews: What is it like to interview Daisy Ridley et al.? What was your biggest interview?
The biggest interview is a hard one, that’s quite subjective! I’ve interviewed the likes of Christian Bale, Dwayne Johnson, Matt Damon, Jackie Chan, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston, Miley Cyrus, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Ryan Gosling, Taylor Swift…. so really depends who you’re a fan of. I really like interviews where I’ve gotten on the same page as the person almost immediately, and this happened with Daisy Ridley. Her sister lives/lived in Melbourne, and she was alllll about Australia. AND my puns! She even made one herself. What a legend.
I prefer video interviews as I am a pretty reactive person and tend to play up to the camera.
My ultimate geek moment WOULD have been Harrison Ford… but he was a bit cranky! I got ONE question on a red carpet, and it wasn’t a fun moment at all. But having a 1 Hour Book Club with Carey Elwes from The Princess Bride to talk about his time shooting that movie (my favourite movie of all time, Soz Star Wars) was a dream come true!
How do you maintain composure when you interview someone you really admire?
What would you like to see next on the big screen? Small screen?
I’d like to explore TV content that isn’t animated! Also can we PLEASE include the underground mafia aka the Hutt syndicate to band with the rebels to bring down the First Order 🙂 🙂
If you had to boil the Star Wars universe down to one line, conversation or scene in SW what would it be?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is a pretty good start.
If you had to do the same for your career, what would it be?
<- literally that.
Finally, does Star Wars still set the standard for storytelling? How will Lucas be remembered?
Star Wars did an amazing job of WORLD BUILDING. You understand this giant galaxy, the political structure, the mythical ways, etc. Sure, it surrounds the adventures of Luke Skywalker – before and after, but it’s so, SO much more than that. JK Rowling did an amazing job of world-building too, but only surrounding the one character, whereas Star Wars really nailed the concept of the whole universe, and you’re able to dive into any part of it. George Lucas may have been an ambitious director (when it came to giving a particular actor a chance and his over-reliance on CGI), but he can REALLY tell a story. Just no more trade federations please 😀