Jawas from Star Wars

The Galactic Odyssey: How my Dad’s ‘small’ role in the movie franchise Star Wars shaped my career.

By Jason Purvis

In the vast galaxy of cinematic history, the Star Wars saga stands as a shining constellation, captivating audiences and leaving an indelible mark on the world of film. For me, this epic journey is not just a cinematic phenomenon but a personal odyssey, intricately woven with the legacy of my father, Jack Purvis, whose presence in Star Wars shaped not only the trajectory of the franchise but also influenced the course of my own career.

My father was an actor and comedy performer, working for many years with his partner Kenny Baker of R2-D2 fame. Like Kenny he entered the Star Wars universe in its early stages working on the first film A New Hope.

Recently I unearthed his pocket diary from 1977, and in a poignant entry on the 19 March he simply writes ‘Film: Star Wars, Lucas Films, Tunisia – This was the location for the scenes where Luke first meets Obi wan Kenobi on Tatooine – Amusingly the entry just the day before notes another booking for his comedy act The Minitones at Mecca Bingo in Camberwell.

Jack Purvis with Gonk Droid on the set of Star Wars

A father’s galactic legacy

He went on to appear in all three of the original films being the only actor to play a different character in each one, those being the Chief Jawa in Star Wars, the lovable Ewok Teebo in Return of The Jedi, and Chief Ugnaught in The Empire Strikes Back (that last one is probably just for the Star Wars geeks).

For me growing up, my father’s stories from the set were a portal to a universe where imagination soared beyond the stars. Even back then I knew I was privileged, how many kids were lucky enough to be taken onto a film set and meet Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. At school I even became a minor celebrity ‘Was your dad really in Star Wars? I would often be asked by incredulous fellow pupils. Sorry to admit but I still play of that one even now! I guess an illusration of how influential the movie franchise was and still is.

My dad was also a storyteller, it was his job as an entertainer and comedian, the stories he told helped spark my fascination with film from an early age. Little did I know that these narratives would serve as the foundation for my own cinematic journey.

Jawas from Star Wars

A cinematic odyssey begins

The influence of my father’s involvement in Star Wars became a guiding force as I navigated my way into the world of filmmaking. The magic of storytelling and the ability of cinema to transcend reality became the pillars of my creative aspirations. Inspired by the legacy of Star Wars, I embarked on my own filmic journey, And whilst I haven’t risen to the heights of Hollywood I was fuelled by a passion to create narratives that resonate with audiences on Ann emotional level.

Jack Purvis on the Set of Star Wars A New Hope

Lessons from a galaxy far, far away

Star Wars, and films in general taught me invaluable lessons about the art and craft of filmmaking. The meticulous attention to detail, the seamless blend of practical effects and groundbreaking technology, and the commitment to storytelling excellence became my guiding principles. My father’s experiences on set became a wellspring of inspiration, shaping my understanding of the collaborative and transformative nature of filmaking.

Witnessing the dedication of the Star Wars team, from visionary directors to talented actors and behind-the-scenes wizards, instilled in me the importance of a unified creative vision. The concept of world-building, so expertly executed in the Star Wars universe, fueled my desire to create immersive and captivating environments in my own projects.

Jack Purvis wearing Star Wars T-shirt

Legacy beyond the screen

My father’s legacy extends beyond the characters he brought to life on screen – which also include the films Time Bandits and XXX. It encompasses the spirit of perseverance, creativity, and the belief that storytelling is a powerful force that transcends generations. Star Wars, with its timeless themes of heroism, hope, and the eternal struggle between good and evil, became a touchstone for my own creative endeavors.

The lessons of collaboration, innovation, and the ability of film to inspire and transport audiences became the cornerstones of my career. I learned that storytelling is a craft that has the potential to leave an enduring impact on hearts and minds.

Jack Purvis and cast members on the set of Time Bandits

Continuing the journey

Love the films or not the influence of Star Wars universe is not merely a familial connection for me but a profound connection to a cultural phenomenon that has touched the lives of millions. It is a reminder that the magic of storytelling, when infused with passion and purpose, has the power to transcend time and space.

In conclusion, the legacy of my late father, Jack Purvis, in Star Wars has been an integral part of my personal and professional journey. From the enchanting tales of the film set to the enduring lessons of creativity and collaboration, Star Wars continues to be a guiding force in my exploration of the limitless possibilities of cinema. As I forge ahead, I am mindful of the responsibility to contribute to the legacy of storytelling—a legacy that was kindled by the brilliance of Star Wars and carried forward by the cinematic dreams of my father.

Jack Purvis with Kenny Baker