One of the greatest aspects about the Chicagoland Expo is the opportunity to get up close and personal with the guests. Sandtroopers.com had the chance to interview Dean Mitchell who was in a scene from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. The character Cellheim Anujo was sent to the cutting room floor, however the man who had the chance to play the character probably wasn't too surprised seeing as Dean Mitchell might be the closest thing to Rodney Dangerfield the Star Wars universe would know. While he gets "no respect", I found he was a very interesting gentleman to talk to.
Darth Spice: I've read you were a costume short of working in Episode I. Looking back, aren't you a little happier you were in one of the better prequel films?
Dean Mitchell: Yes, I was pretty excited actually when I got the call, as I had a regular job back then in computer support. When my agent called and asked if I had been in Star Wars yet all I could say was "What"! As I had no idea they were filming in England. About a week before I had to go down for the first day, I just couldn't get the theme out of my head. When we arrived at Leavesden Studios, they probably fitted about 100 people and all the 25-30 year old men were very excited. The women that were cast were kind of like, oh great, Star Wars! For me it was a boyhood dream come true. I was one of the last to be fitted, and there was maybe about a half dozen of us they ran out of costumes for but there was a second chance to be a Naboo Soldier but I didn't quite make the height requirement of 5' 10". I did get paid for the day but better than that I saw the Naboo sets but I had to go home unfortunately.
Spice: You had another close call and missed out on Passel Argente for Episode II. Is there another dimension you could have brought out in the character seeing as there was so very little of him shown?
Dean: I don't think I would have done a better job than Nic Fields, the actor who I believe did get it. I was quite unfortunate because I was a bit gutted because I did miss out on Episode I. When Episode II and III were announced they would be shot in Australia, I thought I had no chance at all. I guess George decided to come back to the U.K. to do final pick-ups. They had a casting for the final day of Episode II shooting at Elstree Studios, and six of us were sent for two final characters, one a Corran and the other one was Passel Argente. I was the fifth person to be fitted with the prosthetics. They said that I was the best fit but unfortunately Nic came along and had a little bit of a longer chin so they decided to go with him.
Spice: I also read you were asked to play Jango Fett, albeit in a toy commercial, but what was it like to get into the armor that the most feared bounty hunter in the Star Wars universe was cloned from?
Dean: When I got a call from my agent I was told to a costume fitting and it was Star Wars. They didn't say it was for a commercial or anything and there were rumors flying abound about Episode II. However when I arrived it turned out to be a Lego Star Wars commercials. There were various costumes there, and I did get try the outfit on but it wore a bit snug so they decided once again to use someone else.
Spice: You've been on Star Wars sets. Could you describe what this was like for you? Obviously they weren't as massive as some of the Trilogy sets but what was the experience like for you?
Dean: Well perhaps I have one that really stands out which was Anakins Podracer which was really interesting. I saw the Naboo set but only from a distance. During Episode II I was filming a television show and there was a rumor that next door was an Episode II set. Looking back I believe it was perhaps the Tusken huts but we only got to peek in for a bit so I'm really not completely sure.
When I was first on an Episode III set, I was working on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. I was with a friend of mine Christian Simpson who was scheduled to stand in for Hayden Christensen. We were on a lunch break and all of a sudden Rick McCallum, Hayden and someone else just walked right past us. We were a bit confused and didn't think these were being filmed at Shepperton Studios. We had a look in and they were building the Alderaan Cruiser and Bails cockpit. Then we made way to the wooden sheds opposite J and K stage and my friend commented that it looked like Palpatine's chair in there. At that time some of the props guys introduced themselves and invited us to look around further. They took us over to the corner of the room and there were several of the lightsabers with all of the principal characters names on them with post it notes. I remember asking my friend Christian how many Star Wars fans would give their right arm to be holding the sabers as we were! It was very exciting. Yoda was in there as well, as his ears were a little wilted, there were going to shoot it and fix it later with CGI. We were also shown other props like Bail's blaster pistol and other various weapons.
Spice: Your big break actually came in Episode III and you were finally fitted for a part. Were there any lines in the scene or were you just in the background?
Dean: I was very much in the background, as there were no lines for me. My character was named Cellheim Anujo. Basically I was fitted in that costume because I was actually sent to be a Mon Calamari but the height requirement played in and being only 5' 7", I wound up with the Cellheim Anujo costume. It was the opera scene where Hayden is on the way to meet Palpatine but it was all pretty much blue screen work.
Spice: What has been the biggest highlight in your career other than standing on the same stage with the great George Lucas?
Dean: There were many but none were like a childhood dream of meeting George Lucas, that really was the highlight. I've done some work on Dr. Who. I also was a big Back to the Future fan and did some work on a TV movie called Wit with Christopher Lloyd. It's just really great to grow up and meet many of the people you held in high regard.
Spice: To go through all you have and then have the scene in Episode III wind up on the cutting room floor, explain a little of that frustration or maybe some foresight as to why?
Dean: Well basically the scene wasn't cut but I think take 1 was done and then I think between take one and two George was standing with his first assistant director but I was tempted to speak to the great man but decided maybe only if he approached me. Which he did and he came up and asked if I was alright in the costume. Then he said come over here and directed me to my starting position and he said ok we're going to start the next one on you! I could only be a bit struck and nervous. However they opted not to go with that take and can only hope for a directors cut in about twenty five years or so!
Spice: You mentioned on your website about being available for the Star Wars television show. Has anyone contacted you about anything Star Wars TV?
Dean: I think if I had heard anything, which I have not but if I have I wouldn't be able to tell you anything anyway. I think everyone will be sworn to secrecy on that project, I'd be quite sure.
Spice: Taking another look at the costume you wore for the Episode III shoot, can you describe what it was like wearing the costume?
Dean: I sort of remember from an original wardrobe fitting that the trousers were sort of a black stocking like material. Which I also think they used for the sleeves but you couldn't see them in the shot. It was like two parts, and the final part was a very large additional robe and they really couldn't figure out which way it went. It was very confusing and they had to call Trisha Biggars in for assistance. She did come over and showed them the proper way but it was truly an exceptional quality material. Just really, really heavy stuff. I can't imagine the value of a the costume with a fabric like that. I was very fortunate with the head however, where many of my colleges had these really thick prosthetic masks. I was very lucky, it was made of fabric on the outside and a few rings that but light. I could easily remove it to cool down where others had to have quite a bit of assistance.
Spice: What is next for Dean Mitchell other than fingers crossed for a spot in a Star Wars TV series?
Dean: I'm not holding my hopes out on that one just in case. The next thing from me you will probably see is a film called Heroes and Villains where I'll play a character called Gavin. It is probably the next thing you may see in the cinema.
Spice: I do think you donating a percentage of the proceeds from your signings to Cancer Research UK is very admirable. Thanks again for your time Dean, the Troopers appreciate it!
Dean: Thank you, a pleasure as well!