At the end a year that’s already taken far too many favorite faces from us, we must again bid farewell to one of many oft-unsung players in the Star Wars universe (and quite a few other universes as well), actor Jeremy Bulloch. Born in Leicestershire, England in 1945, Jeremy was already finding his footing on a stage in front of an audience at the age of five, and acting professionally at the age of twelve. At the age of seventeen, he had a significant role in 1963’s film Summer Holiday alongside Cliff Richard, leading to a string of appearances on the big and small screen. Curiously, though he became a well-known face to British audiences, his biggest global claim to fame is the role of a space bounty hunter who never removes his helmet – and in the spirit of that famous character of his, this article will try to present a look at his roles in that genre (and related ones).
Jeremy Bulloch actually had significantly more screen time in Doctor Who than he did in the Star Wars universe. His first appearance in that series was in 1965, as a rebel assisting the first Doctor’s attempts to escape from “The Space Museum”, a much-loved four-part story that led into the six-part Dalek epic that followed, “The Chase”.
1969 saw a guest appearance in the occasionally-paranormal-leaning ITV series Strange Report, one of many late ’60s/early ’70s shows that took plenty of cues from The Avengers. (Proving that the apple never falls far from the TARDIS, Strange Report featured former 1960s Doctor Who companion Anneke Wills in a regular role.)
1973 saw Bulloch return to Doctor Who, this time fighting along Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in the four-part story “The Time Warrior”, which also introduced the Sontarans. (Bulloch’s character, Hal the Archer, was the first character seen to kill a Sontaran warrior in Doctor Who history, which may make Hal an even better marksman than Boba Fett.)
Bulloch made background appearances, some of them not even credited onscreen, in Roger Moore-era James Bond films such as The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and For Your Eyes Only (1981), the latter of which where he appeared as Q’s assistant, Smithers. But of course, it was a completely faceless appearance in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back that allowed Bulloch to put his stamp on the Star Wars saga as the face and – at least until the round of alterations that accompanied the original trilogy’s release on Blu-Ray – voice of Boba Fett, a role he also played in 1983’s Return Of The Jedi.
Bulloch had a starring role in the London Weekend Television comedy series Agony from 1979 through 1981; in that context, his role in that galaxy far, far away was a very minor blip in his career – though one with outsized after-effects, as he became a popular fixture at conventions as a result of his Star Wars stardom.
After appearing as Boba Fett again in Return Of The Jedi, Bulloch was a recurring guest in the 1984 series Chocky, and its follow-up (or second season), Chocky’s Children (1985), as Dr. Landis, a child psychologist whose motivations were left open to question as he examined a child who persistently claimed to be visited by an alien intelligence called Chocky.
At the same that Chocky was on the air, Bulloch made occasional guest appearances as the beleaguered Edward of Wickham on HTV’s much-loved high fantasy interpretation of the Robin Hood legend, Robin of Sherwood.
Bulloch’s appearances on UK TV are legion – Casualty, Boon, Sloggers, Jenny’s War, The Bill, and MI-5, among many others – but in the 21st century he found himself drawn back into the Star Wars universe with a very brief, non-Fett-related appearance in Revenge Of The Sith (2005), but an all-star sci-fi comedy, Starhyke, gave him more face time in 2009, alongside Babylon 5’s Claudia Christian, Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules, and other genre luminaries, proving that he could get a laugh as effortlessly as he could be menacing.
Jeremy Bulloch was 75, and will be much missed by his fans the world over.
And here we thought we had a “no disintegrations” agreement with the rest of 2020.