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The recent announcement that Lucasfilm had been sold to Disney left most Star Wars fans as slack-jawed as Luke Skywalker dangling one-armed from a Bespin radio tower. Only something with such a deep grip on popular culture could make the Internet explode in a mix of denial, anger, and Disney-princess memes. Fans around the world can quote the movie backwards and forwards, but Charles Ross came up with the bright idea to do it professionally. His “One Man Star Wars Trilogy” comes to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 16 and 17. The A.V. Club asked him a few questions in between getting tips on how to do a good Wookie growl.
The A.V. Club: Where did this show begin?
Charles Ross: It started in Toronto, Ontario, back in 2001. The first time I performed it in its rudimentary form it went very well. About a year later, my director and friend, T.J. Dawe, and I worked on expanding it into the full length, 60-minute show you still see today. It premiered at Western Canada Theatre, in the little town of Kamloops, British Columbia.
AVC: How did you get Lucasfilm’s permission?
CR: They contacted me in 2003, when I was performing in Chicago. They wanted to know what I thought I was doing. Performing a Star Wars show when I’d never asked them for permission? I was an idiot not to contact them when I first started. Lucky for me they didn’t feed me to the Rancor or sue me into my next lifetime. Instead, they invited me to come down to San Diego Comic Con and perform the first twenty minutes in front of 4,000 wicked Star Wars fans. They seemed to dig it. Lucasfilm seemed to, too. So Lucasfilm let me do it on a small scale. It wasn’t until I went to perform in New York City that Lucasfilm asked me to get a license. To be honest, I still can’t get over how lucky I’ve been.
AVC: Who is your favorite character in the trilogy?
CR: The Emperor. He’s such an articulate, rotten bastard. He’s the kind of guy who’d come to your house and happily inform you that he’s going to burn your place down. Then he’d do it, with lightning from his fingers.
AVC: Do you have a favorite part to reenact?
CR: The Emperor’s scenes—especially the parts when he’s trying to turn Luke to the dark side.
AVC: What is your favorite part of Star Wars outside of the films?
CR: The fans of Star Wars. The 501st Stormtrooper Garrison and the Rebel Legion. Star Wars tattoo artists. Writers of Star Wars novels, comics, graphic novels. Everyone who expands the love of all things Star Wars.
AVC: Have you performed in front of any celebrities or original cast members?
CR: From the original cast: Jeremy Bullock (Boba Fett) and Warrick Davis (Wicket the Ewok). Celebrities? Vin Diesel, for sure. A bunch of others too, when I was in New York City—I performed there for about five months. Of course, I never got to meet them. The ushers would always tell me afterwards who was at the show.