Back in March I managed to interview Dee Tails about his time working as a creature and droid performer in The Force Awakens, Rogue One & The Last Jedi. Now that SOLO: A Star Wars Story has been released, I have been able to interview him once again, as he features in the movie as Quay Tolsite.
“If you follow me, I’m sure we can reach a…mutually beneficial arrangement.”―Quay Tolsite to Qi’ra
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for SOLO: A Star Wars Story!
Quay Tolsite was a Pyke capo who administered the Pyke Syndicate’s operations on Kessel. He was a ruthless individual who enslaved several sentient beings, like Wookiees, to work as miners at the Spice mines of Kessel in order to acquire spice for the Pykes.
Ten years before the Battle of Yavin, as part of the raid on Kesselorganized by Crimson Dawn leader Dryden Vos, Tobias Beckett and his gang along the smuggler Lando Calrissian and his droid L3-37 came to the spice mines in order to steal the stored coaxium there. As such, while Qi’ra distracted Tolsite at his office, Han Solo and Chewbacca are taken as prisoners, as Tobias Beckett and the others start a prison revolt, with L3-37 freeing the Kessel Operations Droids for “droid rights”. Tolsite did not take long to conclude that they were being attacked, but it was too late. Qi’ra immediately subdued the Pyke and killed him by using Teräs Käsi, dropping Tolsite’s lifeless body to the ground.
You’ve returned for SOLO, what was this experience lie in comparison to the previous Star Wars films?
It’s always an amazing experience to get the call from Neal Scanlon’s office, especially when you know it’s for Star Wars. I never know until I get there what my new creature will look like and even during the weeks of fittings that follow, I’ll never know if it’s just that creature or if there are one or two more to play until I’m called in for those
fittings. But as always the experience I have working with the CFX team on Star Wars is incredible. This one was no exception, in fact I found it to be the hardest one to work on out of all of them, this wasn’t because of the work load but due to how much there was to geek out over. Everywhere I turned on any set or location revealed something amazing, from; wall mounted droid sensors in the droid fitting arena, you maybe spotted in A New Hope, which alerted the barman to C3-P0 and R2 trying to enter, to Woody Harrelson wearing the same clothes Lando later wears in Return Of The Jedi and then being the actual one to greet Qira, L3-37, Chewbacca & Han as they come off the Falcon !! It still feels very much like I’m in a dream that I don’t want to wake up from ya know.
In SOLO you play Quay Tolsite, what can you tell me about this character?
In Solo, I play a character called Quay Tolsite who is a Pyke Syndicate Capo, as in he runs all the mining operations on Kessel. Kessel is an extremely harsh environment for the Pyke Syndicate which is why they have lower ranked characters like myself doing their dirty work as in dominating the trade of Spice throughout the galaxy, which my costume had to also reflect being that Quay needed a breathing filter to exist their, a failing breathing system but one nonetheless. I love the Pykes and am aware of their presence during the Clone Wars so to get to play one was extremely good fun. The costume itself was incredibly heavy due the layers of fabric used and designed by – My principal dresser was a lovely Spanish girl called Chiky Serranoo Who handled the weight of that suit like a Boss!
We had a lovely team around us the designers Gyn Dillon & Dave Crossman.
Assistant Costume Designer: Samantha Keeble.
Costume Cutter: Gary Page..
Dressers, Steve Hyams, Alex Garnett, Maite Chemin & Carla Monvid- Jenkinson.
I’m sorry I had to name them, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten one or two so for that I’m sorry but for the ones I have I’m not, they were amazing. He was designed by Jake Lunt Davies and the head sculpted by Justin Pitkethly which my head was encased into having the back panel sealing me in with four screws.
What was it like filming on the Kessel set?
Filming on the Kessel set was beyond anything for me. As things were becoming clearer with the more I was being asked to do, things like the phrase ‘Kessel Run’ started to become real to the point where I personally now have a point of reference, because I was there !! Sounds insane to say but it’s true. And having Ron Howard guiding everything was like WoW !! It was shot on the back lot of Pinewood but was a beautiful set, if it wasn’t for the slaves I owned making the place look messy it could’ve been quite the holiday spot ! The falcon was parked, droids were all over the place, the main characters were on set, it was absolutely incredible.
Did you have much interaction with Emilia Clarke during your scene with her?
On Kessel in Quays control room, I had to interact with Emilia Clarke, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Woody Harrelson, now that was an experience I’ll never forget. We’re surrounded by Droids of all kinds, some were remote controlled, others were CFX performers and some were puppets. We were all in costume and all working on a scene for a Star Wars movie. They were all lovely and so friendly to speak to and when action was called out we’d all been choreographed as to how we were going to get around the room and finally into my office, it was lovely to be apart of that sequence and to get my butt whooped by The Mother Of Dragons. Which was performed by Daren Nop doubling me as Quay and Fizz doubling Emilia as Qi’ra. I loved watching that, being in the room as well as seeing it on the cinema screen those guys were amazing. Emilia was so much fun to work with, she’s always happy and laughing and then can switch on the performance when action is called. The thing is also Quay was somewhat taller than her and meant to be very intimidating, which he was, which makes it even more cool when she takes him down so efficiently, not even I wanted him to survive the beat-down she gave him. Seeing the new droid was incredible too from her costume design to the end product on the screen along with her performance was a journey for us all to see including Phoebe. And what can I say about Woody wearing that outfit and not only owning the costume but then blasting the hell out my guards and looking so cool doing it. I think you can see how difficult this one was for me.
What are your thoughts on the work Ron Howard did for the film?
It was amazing when Ron Howard came on board, he didn’t miss a beat. I know he loves Star Wars and it showed with how thought out, certain scenes were and watching his reactions to watching the play back on the monitors. I used to love rushing home from school to watch the 1960’s Batman followed by Happy Days and to now be in a Star Wars set being directed by a good friend of George Lucas who instantly fit in like family was amazing. He knew what shots he wanted, how many cameras would be needed and had Lawrence Kassden, John Kassden and the incredible D.O.P Bradford Young by his side, it was an incredible team to watch work and to be guided by.
What is it like working with Neal Scanlan and his team, and what are some of your fondest memories working as a part of the creature team?
Working for Neal Scanlan with the CFX team has to be one of the most amazing and unexpected experiences I’ve ever had as an actor. I had always dreamed of contributing to a large scale movie one day as those summer block busters I grew up on all helped to cement that desire to become an actor. I also grew up loving Sesame Street along with The Muppet show becoming a huge fan of Jim Henson. So with that connection to Star Wars being that it was Jim who recommended Frank Oz to George Lucas I was sold.
So to now being able to not only act in these movies as I have so far in creature suits surrounded by some of the most amazing puppeteers, designers and those controlling the animatronics who were all inspired by Jim as well is completely awe inspiring and I’m so proud everything they do, they’ve even got some amazing work on display in the next Jurassic World movie that I can’t wait to see. I think my most memorable moment on Solo has to be watching Derek Arnold as Six Eyes at the Sabacc table, and understanding the synergy him, Matt Denton along with Richard Coombs had to have to deliver on that take was absolutely amazing to watch and a moment like so many
that I’ll never forget. It’s an incredibly close team and family, we have such a great time on set and supporting each other throughout the production.
Can we expect to see your name on the credits for Episode IX in 2019?
Will you see my name in the credits for Ep 9? I can only hope, but it’s very early days right now. At this moment all I can do is just hope and keep my fingers crossed for that phone call from the CFX office.