Chatting with Jabba the Hutt
Peter Diamond - Swashbuckler and Tusken Raider

One of the things that makes Star Wars so exciting is it's amazing swordfights. Who hasn't played out the duel between Vader and Luke with pair of cheesy plastic toy sabers?

We have stunt coordinator Peter Diamond to thank for those thrilling scenes in all the original movies. Not only did he train the actors and co-ordinate the fights, he also made several cameo appearances on the screen.

First as the Tusken Raider who attacked Luke in A New Hope, as Garouf Lafoe; the character who gave Obi-Wan and Luke away to the Stormtroopers in Mos Eisley, as Corporal Prescott; one of the Death Star detention block guards, and as a Biker Scout in Return of the Jedi.

Here's what he had to say:

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Blue Harvest:
Peter, your professional life spans almost 50 years in the business and you've worked on projects ranging from "The Dark Avenger" with Errol Flynn and the classical TV series "Doctor Who" to such blockbusters as "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "An American Werewolf in London", "Highlander" and of course the 3 original Star Wars movies.
Since BlueHarvest.net is a Star Wars site we are naturally very curious about that part of your career, however that withstanding, which project did you enjoy the most working on and why?

Peter Diamond:
I've enjoyed all projects. I like the creative ideas you have to bring and devise to the production - I am also a theatre fight director co-ordinator which I believe is a necessity for any stunt.

BH:
How did you get started in the business in the first place?

PD:
Fenced in the British Army, then taken I trained as an actor on a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Tusken Raider BH:
How was it that you became involved in Star Wars and was shipped off to Tunisia to co-ordinate stunts and slip on a robe and mask to play a fierce Tusken Raider?

PD:
Apart from co-ordinating the action, I was the only stunt person on the film in Tunisia, so I had to play the Tusken Raider for the safety of Mark Hamill.

BH:
As I understand it there was a lot of skepticism, even among the cast and crew, before the first Star Wars movie was released. Were you surprised at all over the reaction, by the movie-going public, to the movie?

PD:
Not really, my young sons read the script and their reaction gave me an indication that this may be a good children's film.

BH:
Since you worked on all 3 original Star Wars movies you came in contact with all 3 directors, i.e. George Lucas who of course directed "A New Hope", Irving Kerschner who directed "The Empire Strikes Back" and Richard Marquand who directed "Return of the Jedi". What are your thoughts on these 3 different directors? Did you find any of them particularly easy or hard to work with?

PD:
I thought Empire was the better film. But all three directors were friendly and were not afraid to ask how to achieve the end result.

BH:
As stunt co-ordinator you helped, among others, Mark Hamill, David Prowse and the late Sir Alec Gunniess with their fencing. What was your impression of the lead actors? Any one in particular who stands out in your memory, if so why?

PD:
The humility of Alec Guinness and his helpful attitude to crew and other actors.

BH:
Have you seen "The Phantom Menace"? If so, what did you think of the new stunt co-ordinator; Nick Gillard's performance?

PD:
A very difficult question to answer as I gave Nick one of his first stunt jobs and didn't know him as a swordsman.

Training Mark BH:
To a lay(wo)man like myself Gillard's style of fighting, which is inspired by Hong Kong action movies, seems quite different from your more classical style - which brings the great pirate movies of the 30's and 40's to mind. (A style which later, I'm sure much thanks to your influence, experienced a big revival with "Highlander".) Do you agree?

PD:
I'm a romantic, I should have been a Musketeer - I agree.

BH:
50 years in the business and you're still going strong... According to your official site some of the most recent work you've done was helping Sir Anthony Hopkins on "The Mask of Zorro". What future projects are there in store for you?

PD:
My own production company, planning a series of romantic , swashbuckling adventures films with a Captain Blood type character.

BH:
Last but not least; spending so much time on the different sets you must have accumulated quite a few good stories over the years. Do you have any funny anecdotes or stories of interest you'd like to share? :-)

PD:
Errol Flynn - whilst fighting him on the Dark Avenger he almost hit me with his broadsword - He gasped and said sorry Peter - this is dangerous come with me. He walked me over to the producer and told him to pay me a bigger fee because of the danger, as we walked back to the set he whispered to me one of his most reported quotations - "Just take the money and run Peter"- so I did and thanked him.

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Thanks to Peter for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Don't forget to look for Peter the next time you watch the original trilogy and visit his official website at http://www.peterdiamond.co.uk.

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Did you know...
that the line "Why do I get the feeling you're going to be the death of me?" spoken by Obi-Wan to Anakin in Episode II is a pun on the fact that Anakin will in fact kill him, in Episode IV.

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