Getting back into the swing of things, here's my latest contribution to George Lucas' undying tale of a boy, a girl, a galaxy, and a jazz band headed by a fat turquoise elephant. By now it should be pretty clear that I can't go to a beach without pretending I'm on Tatooine. Star Wars has reeled me in for the long haul, and throughout the years, I've been saddened by the lack of respect for some of the secondary characters the films have given us. Everyone's so preoccupied with which main star will have his hand chopped off next that almost no one pays attention to those creepy aliens and highly personable robots that help the trilogy maintain its fanbase even decades after their respective opening days.
Its understandable. Star Wars was a big universe, so not a lot of these fine stars got their due screen time. I'm not going to complain about that, because it does take up a big chunk of time to tell a stories so riveting as Jabba's internal struggle between seeking love and seeking sex slaves, or Obi Wan's personal challenge to make Luke buy into his 'point of view' bullshit when trying to cover for his past lies. With all that action, a lot of guys get lost in the shuffle. Until today.
Seeing as how this site is mostly about giving the heroes and villains nobody wants to notice their just desserts, I've compiled a list of my personal top ten greatest 'forgotten' Star Wars characters. These guys may not have shaped the New Republic, wielded lightsabers, or even kiss their sisters...but they're still an intricate part to that wonderful galaxy far, far away...
#10 - Ree Yees - In Return of the Jedi, we followed the good guys into the bowels of Jabba's palace on the quest to save Han Solo. Jabba might've been a successful spice smugglin' gangsta, but he wasn't without his share of personal problems. First off, he was attracted to humanoid females. Jabba shows no signs of having any genitals, and I'm not sure I even want to think about the consequences of him making lemonade out of his giant slimy tail. Secondly, he ate giant, live frogs. And finally, he hung out with the worst group of people in the entire universe. I don't know about you, but if I was Jabba, and I had all this money and power, I'd find a much better suitor than a dancing octopus girl and a better confidant than Bib Fortuna. But it goes much deeper than that, and Ree Yees might best represent the depth of Jabba's shitty group of friends.
According to Star Wars lore, Ree Yees was a bad apple who started fights with everyone. Well, of course he was a bad apple. Of course he was always angry. Look at him! Pig face, three eyes, and hands that look more like coal miners' gloves. Ree Yees wasn't going to find any votes of self-confidence in the mirror, so its no real shock that he proved his dick size by beating the crap out of everyone. Its not like you can impress girls with poetry when you're this ugly. Ree Yees is just doing what he can.
Fate & Status: Ree Yees was aboard Jabba's sail barge when it appeared to blow up because the good guys got off of it. He never achieved his dream of finding love or a job description that met his rare talents of having oversized hands and the ability to fit his giant head through a shirt, but that's the price you pay if you wanna hang around the slug mafia.
#9 - Ugnaughts - These fabled Ugnaughts delivered probably the only spit-take funny moment in the entire trilogy, albeit completely unintentionally. While its true that you definitely expect the unexpected when watching a movie that boasts more aliens and monsters than even the most vivid acid-induced dreams, but there's simply no way to prepare for a bunch of little pigs in smocks walking around Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back. Everytime I see them debut, I crack up. Their looks are only scratching the comedic surface though - how the hell did George pen these guys in? At what point did something in his crazy little head tell him that Lando not only needed a bald cyborg robot man, but also a horde of grey-clothed pigs whose jobs seem to be ripping apart droids and pushing various buttons in the carbonate chamber?
When I was a kid, I could never quite understand if these things were supposed to be heroes or villains. I didn't quite grasp the concept of victims of circumstance, or grey-area characters...and to be honest, even today I refuse to go that deep when thinking about fucking Ugnaughts. On one hand, we saw them force Chewbacca to play Wookie-in-the-middle with C-3P0's head...but on the other hand, they were only doing their job. On one hand, they aided Vader in turning Han Solo into a sexy statue...but on the other hand, I don't imagine many 2.5' pigs being able to protest much to the Lord of the Sith. I don't think Vader could be swayed away from acting like such a vindictive cockface by a bunch of artsy pig midgets. I understand that we all love Han, but we can't expect the Ugnaughts to sacrifice themselves for a guy who'd probably make fun of them in passing.
Fate & Status: After the Empire renegged on their prior agreement with Lando Calrissian, its likely that most of the Ugnaughts tried to get off planet. Where they'd go and what they'd do, I have absolutely no idea. Theoretically they could masquerade as Jawas, but Ugnaughts are pretty unproven in the field of used Droid sales.
#8 - Momaw Nadow - Before Star Wars books turned this guy into the greatest champion of virtue in the universe, he was simply 'Hammerhead', another one of the drunk alien bastards in the Mos Eisley Cantina. I want to note that Hammerhead was in the film for a total of maybe five seconds, and offered nothing more than a glance and a sip of his drink. For a guy who seems to have had less of a role in Star Wars than my shoes, writers really had a field day with this guy.
According to post-movie lore, this guy isn't just some drunken alien with a t-shaped head. He's Momaw Nadow, exiled Ithorian/pacifist/Rebel sympathizer with two mouths. I'm not kidding. Remember that five seconds he had in the film? Really didn't do him justice! Just from the sporadic Star Wars novel I've read, I can tell you that Momaw has found and lost love, has a carniverous plant in his Tatooine abode, and thoroughly respects the sacred jungles of his Ithor homeworld. Man, and people wonder why Star Wars is so successful. Every freaking one of the 10,000 creatures we've seen has had more exciting adventures than the entire cast of the Golden Girls. If other movies followed this method, imagine how successful they'd be. I know I'm dying to know the secret backstory of that airport worker who told Nicholas Cage his flight was cancelled in Honeymoon In Vegas. Momaw may very well be the most successful actor in history, actually. He's parlayed a seconds-long cameo into a full fledged career. The guy has had more action figures crafted in his honor than Bruce Willis.
Fate & Status: I'd assume that someone, somewhere, at some point wrote a story about how Momaw was finally allowed back onto his home planet of Ithor. As far as George is concerned, this was just another costume laying in Rick Baker's basement. Lucas probably gets a good laugh out of getting drunk and reading about what all his creations are up to nowadays. 'Uh oh...Luke saved another planet! That's two sips!'
#7 - 'Fucking' Orrikmaarko - My lord! Bear with me here for a second - apparently, at some point during Return of the Jedi, the Rebels hired a soggy pirate to aid them with their endeavors on Endor. Now, if you watch an older version of the movie, pre-Special Edition, you may notice that Orrikmaarko is not in the film. I'm not 100% certain of this, as he allegedly appears in the Rebel briefing room, and I was so taken in by General Madine's speech that I couldn't be bothered looking for rumored alien pirates. But after the special edition came out, the freakin' room was crawling with these guys! I mean, what was George's itinerary when redoing the films?
1) Clean up scratchy/messy footage.
2) Make a longer ending with more dancing Ewoks, spiting the world as a whole.
3) Add a bunch of Orrikmaarkos.
It just doesn't make sense. Back in the old days, Orrik was simply known as 'Prune Face', a name that shouldn't surprise you when you consider some of the other characters' old names: Walrus Man, Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, and 'Nancy/Farm Boy'. (later changed to 'Luke') I remember buying the action figure as a child thinking this was one of the aliens from Jabba's palace that I must've missed when shielding my eyes from the scary monsters on-screen. But no - he apparently lent a big helping hand on the forests of Endor. This alien's costume best represents what I like to refer to as 'throw all the leftover shit on that guy' concept - Prune Face is an interesting combo of a wrinkly, oranged-eyed monster, a pirate, a camoflauged super soldier, and that old guy in the park you go out of your way to avoid.
Fate & Status: Later in life, I'd find out that Prune Face was actually a Dresselian loner who does not work well in groups. Whatever that means.
#6 - Imperial Dignitary - These were the old guys who hung around the Emperor in ROTJ. We never received much information on 'em, but through my super-sleuth research, I've been able to find out a number of things. These were an assortment of the Emperor's most trusted friends and officials, all of whom were secretly trying to replace him. They overestimated their importance to the point where, in the original script, Vader uses the Force to suffocate at least one of them. I also found out that the actors who portrayed them were pretty familiar faces in Hollywood...
Its no small secret that television networks often like to form new casts by using actors and actresses who've displayed a previous chemistry with each other, so it shouldn't shock you that execs saw the masterful brilliance of the fine stars who together brought the Imperial Dignitary to life, donned them 'The Connors', and gave them a ten-year run on a major network for a situation comedy. Behind Harrison Ford, Sara Gilbert's easily the most successful Star Wars actor in terms of making herself a success off the film's popularity. After all, she did host Saturday Night Live. Then again, so did Rob Lowe.
Fate & Status: Does anyone give a shit? I DO! I don't know why, but as a kid I loved this figure. It was so mysterious. Since you could miss their appearance in the film if you blink at least twice an hour, I was convinced that this was a younger version of the Emperor figure. Its not like a six-year-old has any idea what a 'Dignitary' is. Hell, I had enough trouble trying to understand how jive time Lando was making sense of Nien Nunb. More on him later! As for the Dignitary, I'd presume by now they're all dead. (Course, in the Star Wars universe, being 'dead' sometimes means that your brain was taken out of your body, put into a nutrient-filled jar, and placed upon a spider-robot. Its all relative.)
One more, then we're breaking this over to a second page. Don't want to kill any of you on a dial-up. Losers HAHA!
#5 - Amanaman - Amanaman presents one of the more interesting phenomenons in the Star Wars universe, that being creatures that cannot possibly exist. Because I created the theory on evolution, and yes I did, I can tell you...anything with arms this ridiculously long would've been wiped into extinction years ago. Amanaman can't possibly do anything - much less the alleged 'headhunting' - with arms that look to be about 90% of his overall body height. Allow me to show you an example, clearly illustrating why Amanaman's kind should've been dead long ago...
Up above, you'll see a picture of the fossilized bones of the now extinct Irish Elk - a species of deer that died off because its antlers grew so fucking big that it could no longer support the weight of its head. Now, look at Amanaman. Surely those arms would invariably lead to the same fate. So what's he doing there, alive and well in Jabba's court? Don't worry, I've got that covered too. Star Wars indeed happened in a galaxy far, far away...but it also happened a long time ago. By now, Amanaman are surely extinct. Folks, its just science!
Fate & Status: Aside from being one of Star Wars' weirdest aliens, Amanaman is also one of the most obscure. I found out that his real name is 'Amanin', but aside from that its been pretty hush hush. Please e-mail me if you have any sightings.
Five down, five to go! In part two, everything from Chewbacca's perverted father to fat dancing slaves with six tits!