Puppeteer recalls day his name was misspelled on Star Wars film credits

Hugh Spight holds a photo of the character he played in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

A still from the film showing Hugh on the left with his hand on Harrison Ford’s shoulder

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

STAR Wars made Harrison Ford one of Hollywood’s most famous actors but it left one Oxford puppeteer behind.

In 1982 Hugh Spight spent six weeks at Elstree Studios filming with the star in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

But he believes his chance at fame was shot down when his name was misspelled during the credits, renaming him Hugh Spirit. He said: “I don’t know how it happened, its a bit of a mystery. I was a bit gutted really.

We were in the cinema with everybody that I knew, and I saw it come up and just thought ‘Oh no!’.”

Mr Spight, 67, played several small background roles in the film – a pig-like Gamorian guard, a Mon Calamari fish creature and an Elom monster.

Originally trained in ballet dancing, Mr Spight made it on to the Star Wars set after he was spotted next door on the set of Muppet-creator Jim Henson’s movie The Dark Crystal.

Mr Spight, who has lived in Oxford for the last seven years, said: “I had already been in the Star Wars studios for months and months with Dark Crystal.

“We’d looked at each other’s sets and works.

“At the end of Dark Crystal filming they asked a couple of us if we would look at coming on their set, so a few of us did. I was just in the right place at the right time and with the right skills.”

Mr Spight’s biggest role is as the Gamorian guard who escorts Mr Ford’s character Han Solo into captivity.

He said: “We were on Jabba the Hutt’s barge and in those scenes I was the one who had my hand on the shoulder of Harrison Ford.

“We had to take him down to the dungeon.

“Harrison Ford didn’t communicate a lot about anything other than what he wanted us to do in response to his actions. He directed his scenes and you just had to do it.”

He said: “For that character I had an image of John Wayne in my mind because it was such a big costume and you’ve got to move accordingly.

“It was the same type of swagger, a very full-bodied movement.

“It wasn’t hard work really, but in the costumes it’s very tricky to move because they’re so big. I nearly fell down the stairs.”

Now, more than 30 years after the film was released, Star Wars fans have tracked Mr Spight down. He said: “A couple of weeks ago somebody who organised signings contacted me and said they’d worked it out online. Apparently hundreds of people would want to get my signature.”

Mr Spight is tentatively taking his first steps into fame, adding: “I don’t want to be ripped off, but I’ll do a limited number of signatures. It might be nice.”

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