Tim Rose was introduced to the Star Wars universe during Return of the Jedi, where he played the Character Admiral Ackbar who he also played in the Force Awakens and will also be featured in the Last Jedi this December. Rose has also puppeteered the characters of Salacious Crumb and Sy Snootles in Episode VI. Tim has been involved with other Lucasfilm productions during his time as a puppeteer and actor in movies such as the Dark Crystal and Howard the Duck.
I was extremely lucky to catch Tim between shooting different projects and got to ask him a few things about his time in Star Wars.
1. How does working on Star Wars compare to all your work on other projects?
I have always loved working on Star Wars films. I love to bring fantasy characters to life. Ironically, other films that maybe didn’t have so large a budget would quite often be far more rewarding to do because I was able to contribute far more of my own visions to the project.
2. When you were given the role of Admiral Ackbar, it says that you were told he was a background character, how does it feel now knowing he is one of the main figures in the Rebel Alliance/Resistance?
I’m very flattered that people like what I managed to achieve. At a time when animatronics was in its infancy, I managed to bring together the knowledge of Jim Henson and others to show what was possible. I have to thank Phil Tippet for having faith in me. I had only just recently been fired off of “Greystoke” by Rick Baker for trying to do the exact same thing with one of his gorillas.
3. As well as Admiral Ackbar, you were the man behind Salacious Crumb and Sy Snootles, which one of your characters in Star Wars was the hardest to play?
I understand why George replaced Sy Snootles with CGI. I designed her as a reverse string marionette. But she was a nightmare to contain. Mike Quinn and I got it to the point where we could do the performance I wanted people to see in 1 out of 12 attempts. On the day we got one attempt. I ran to Richard and said ,” Please God, don’t let that take be what the world gets to see.” So he gave me a second take. It was better than the first, but not what she was capable of producing. Jim Henson knew what was possible and would do 40 takes to get it, film costs be damned.
4. Who was your favourite character to portray?
I was a very shy young man. Puppets seamed to give me permission to expose some of my less desirable traits, and Salacious Crumb would really let my bad boy out of the box. He got up to all kinds of mischief you never got to see in the final edit.
5. Are you likely to continue working on Star Wars projects in the future as both Admiral Ackbar or even some new characters?
Nice try Cheeko! Now you know Disney has us all sown up with NDA’s so I can’t talk about it. Oh, wait a minute if I can’t talk then that must mean? Doh!
6. Was there much interaction between yourself and George Lucas, if so, what sort of things would you discuss?
There wasn’t a lot. My favourite memories are when he would drop by Phil’s shop late at night just to see how we were getting on and be normal for a little while. It’s ironic that the everyday things we take for granted are the things famous people crave in their lives. Just to walk to the corner store and buy a candy bar without getting mobbed.
7. Are there any characters in Star Wars that you didn’t work on but wish you did?
Yoda of course! Having made so many things for Frank Oz during my time at Muppets and have the master show me things I didn’t even know they could do, I knew I could create an animatronics that would allow Frank to fly. Unfortunately politics just never allowed that to happen.
8. Who are some of your favourite characters from the franchise and why?
I watched Harrison on the big screen as a boy and wanted to be just like him. But after seeing John Boyega stand head to head with him in every shot, I’m really looking forward to watching him grow. He’s got “it”, let’s hope the realities of the film business don’t beat it out of him.
So, there you have it, I’d like to thank Tim for allowing me the time to ask him these questions between his filming schedules and also, be sure to check out his website http://www.Admiralackbar.co.uk and definitely see Star Wars: The Last Jedi when it is released in December.
May the Force be With You All!