Roger Christian on Star Wars, Alien and Black Angel
Holy. Fuck. I’ll tell you, I know more about Star Wars than most people, but here’s a thing I didn’t know. Roger Christian (Set Decorator on Star Wars, Production Designer on Alien, director of Battlefield Earth(!), second unit director on Episode 1) directed a small film called Black Angel which showed in front of The Empire Strikes Back, funded by Lucas. That and a lot more in this extensive interview.
It has tons of awesome trivia stuff, like:
[Travolta] said every director that he put up for Battlefield Earth, he would first go to Quentin and ask his approval. And Quentin said ‘no’ to all of them. And [Travolta] said ‘When I mentioned your name, he screamed and yelled “Yes!”’.
I asked him what this was based on, and he said ‘Didn’t you know? The Sender, the first film you made, is one of his all-time favourite movies.’ So [Travolta] said ‘Right, I’m going to put you together with him!’, and he put us together on a plane from New York – we had to fly back from the premiere. So I was there on a plane with Quentin and he spent about an hour going on about my film The Sender. [laughs]
[Tarantino] told me that when he was a video assistant he’d seen [The Sender] on television and taped it. He said ‘When it first came out in the cinemas, I realised that the studios were just against you on this, so I took people every night to see it, because I knew it wouldn’t be in the cinemas very long.’
So he’d taped it from television, and when the video rental came in, he looked at it and said ‘They’d cut some of your scenes’. He said ‘On my own money, and I was only a video assistant, I went and re-cut it – and I cut back in the scenes that they cut out, from my television recording’ [laughs]. ‘And that’s what we rented out. I’ve still got the copy somewhere at home’.
How I never heard of this, I have no idea, but it restores my hope that there are still undiscovered gems for me to discover about Star Wars.
Update: There’s another interview at Den of Geek, in which Roger says:
… because Ridley pulled his Directors Guild rights to have a screening with an audience. They [the studio] were really not backing it. And at that screening people were running out – and I remember somebody broke their arm running out into the toilets – and they told me people were stuffing towels into the speakers in the toilet they got so scared. That screening made the film a hit, when it got out.