Dominic Pace – His Star Wars Story

Bounty Hunting…it’s a complicated profession and leaves you with endless career opportunities. For example, do you bring them in warm or do you bring them in cold? Here’s hoping if you ever get the choice, you make the right decision. Afterall, this is the way…

We have ourselves another Bounty Hunter interview here. Following our chat with Chris Parson’s 4-LOM we go a lot more recent to Dominic Pace, star of more TV shows than Darth Vader has killed younglings!

What’s his favourite part? You can likely guess as he is on a quest now to get The Mandalorian’s “Gekko” immortalised as an action figure and rightly so, as he like so many of the Bounty Hunters before him looks frankly, very cool. Anyway, this site is about his Star Wars story and well, there’s only one way to end this introduction…I have spoken.

Delighted to speak to you Dominic and you are the first actor we are speaking to from The Mandalorian which is very exciting. Hope you are doing well through this difficult time for the world?

It’s a situation where we can all complain but the first thing I think about is those who are really facing financial hardships, so we have to think ourselves lucky. I’ve been on over 100 TV shows so the residuals coming from that are really helpful.

In some respects I feel lucky. This year was supposed to be crazy for me I was even unlikely to catch one of my son’s baseball games, but this has meant that we slowed down and we’ve seen the positives, too, and been reminded about what the most important things are in life.

You’ve obviously had The Mandalorian keeping you busy recently. I have read a lot of your Star Wars interviews and it seems you are a bit of a super fan, is that right?

You can check out a 1998 video on YouTube where I was showing my Star Wars collection on Entertainment Tonight (link at the end folks!). I’m the real deal! I don’t have the “Last 17” figure set, which is very rare, but the vintage collection meant so much to me as a child, the music of John Williams, the original trilogy generally has a really deep spot in my heart, especially The Empire Strikes Back.

How big is it for you personally to end up on a show of this size as a Bounty Hunter?

It’s ironic as I’ve done a lot of shows as a principal actor, but this wasn’t about that. This for me was for the Star Wars fan experience. It’s a childhood dream come true, but to add to that it’s a one of a kind species, a one-of-a-kind bounty hunter, and it’s pretty action-figure worthy. That was my hope this year that Hasbro and Funko Pop would be inspired by this character and turn him into a figure.

I did a make-up test for six hours with Brian Sipe and I was told that I’d get the most extensive make up as I’d had a lot of patience, and that’s how Gekko was formed. It’s a nickname for the character and it was inspired because of a gecko-like mark in the centre of the head. That made it really special for me, being unique.

Gekko flanks Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) as they try to stop The Mandalorian

Tell us how you got the part of Gekko in The Mandalorian.

It came as a result of previous prosthetic experience. I had just come off doing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doing extensive prosthetics to be a Kree and other roles. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of talent but you can’t be on your phone, you cant be too chatty when you are in the make-up chair and I have always been genuine, that’s always been my calling card in my career.

There was no promise of any work after initial tests but I got a phone call where they wanted me to do a screen test where they would put me in some make-up and the project name was “Huckleberry”. I began signing some of the paperwork where it said Lucasfilm, and even at that point I wasn’t 100% convinced as they have their hand in a lot of projects. It wasn’t until I went into the wardrobe room – any Star Wars fan would have been able to relate to the pictures on the wall – and what really made my hands numb was seeing a rack of clothes with my name and “Bounty Hunter”. One had these fake dreadlocks and another had this Boba Fett-like narrow visor, and ultimately I heard that due to the make-up test they wanted to work with my head.

It was a really special moment because here you have a situation that any Star Wars fan would die to have. It’s an awkward situation, too, with Brian, because how do you thank someone in a professional situation that’s beyond anything you could have asked for, especially as a fan? We email back and forth every now and then and all I could tell Brian was, “Thank you so much.”

Personally, what would you say is your best story from working on The Mandalorian?

I have a few if that’s okay. The first day I am walking into the cantina in full costume and I lean against the bar and a few feet away is Jon Favreau talking to George Lucas, and this is a professional environment not a meet and greet at a comic con. This was my job, and to be stood next to these two legends meant so much.

The dream of many Star Wars fans will be to choose from 20 or 30 blasters. The fact that I was one of the first Bounty Hunters to get to this table and pick my own blaster was beyond words.

The third was involving Deborah Chow, who will be heading up the Obi-Wan series. She selected me to continue in the Cantina scene and I was fortunate because that could have been it after I was in a few shots. It’s everyone’s dream to be a part of the action, and – I do hope there is an extended cut of this – I got to be a part of the stand-off. When you are an actor doing a scene it takes complete concentration, the rest of the universe goes away and you aren’t looking at the camera man or the lights, and I’m staring down The Mandalorian with a blaster in my hand. It took me back to being a kid again. Those three stories in particular, I can’t choose one, but the entire ten-day experience was just beyond words.

Gekko art by Jay Manchand (@JayManchandArt on Twitter)

You have mentioned the action figures a bit and that side of The Mandalorian hasn’t been developed too much yet. Is your hope to be an action figure?

You are right and I heard from a few sources it will be pushed now, but who knows? It’s been pushed back a lot with what’s going on in the world. I can’t tell you how frustrating that part is, but I heard that they want to extend the line out. They are in place because of exactly what we you have mentioned to me, a lot of the fans like these unique side characters and they were my favourites, so that is what certainly makes it sentimental for me. That’s the ultimate dream, to have a Gekko figure kids can play with.

Obviously for you it’s very fresh, but I’ve been interviewing a lot of people for this site now and the interest created in these side characters that have less than a minute of screen time is huge. Even Boba Fett himself has a limited amount, and we become captivated by characters like that. What are your thoughts on that as a fan, and as an actor who has just played a similar part?

I think it’s a compliment to George Lucas. I think if other storytellers knew what pulled on heart strings like that then they would do it, too. I have had featured or principal parts in these big famous crime dramas like NCIS…why does that not stick to the wall? The fact Star Wars has these guys going on tour for 30-40 years being an ambassador to the brand is a testament to what George Lucas created. Somebody in England has already named their kid Gekko, which I shared on my page!

Originally Bounty Hunters had a very small part of the first trilogy, but with The Mandalorian they have essentially been given their own show. What’s your take on why Bounty Hunters specifically are so popular in Star Wars?

A lot to be said about the mystery and the look, sometimes less is more. The job in general, being a Bounty Hunter is pretty cool, but a lot of credit has to go to the designers. We love the lightsabres and blasters, but the look of characters like Zuckuss, 4-LOM and Dengar makes them very action-figure worthy and the stories of them take on a life of their own once kids start to play with them.

I think I can guess the answer to this question. You’ve said you appeared on over 100 TV shows, but having a look through your career to date where does working on The Mandalorian sit in all of that?

It really is number one! I’m 44 and when I grew up in the 80’s the reason I got involved in this business was ultimately to entertain. Sitting in that movie theatre and watching the work of Spielberg, Lucas and Zemeckis on the big screen and saying I wanted to be a part of that. The Mandalorian, as much as I am a side character, it takes the cake of my entire career as it represents the innocent escapism to entertain and bring that joy.

Can we expect the return of Gekko or are there any plans to add to the character?

Ethan Sacks and Paolo Villanelli, who work as illustrators for Marvel, have shown some interest in the look of the character. There has not been a 100% promise, however Ethan has reached out and said hang tight, and that’s about all I can say right now. There’s a new comic out called “Star Wars Bounty Hunters” which I recommend, whether Gekko gets seen or not, but there’s a chance we get more of his story there. I have to thank the fans for keeping him going and making custom Gekko figures. If you go on my Facebook page, “Lair of the Gekko”, you can follow what we are doing there.

Dominic is indeed the real deal. You can check out his Star Wars collection which was featured on Entertainment Tonight back in 1998 by clicking here.

Keep checking back for more Star Wars Stories and until the next time, I’ll be there for you…Cassian said I had to.

Did you enjoy reading this interview? Why not check out the Star Wars story of fellow Bounty Hunter, Mark Austin, who portrayed Boba Fett in the Special Edition of A New Hope. Read more by clicking here.


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