Utinni! It’s time for your next Star Wars story readers and we have a great guest for you once again, Andrea Wickman-Miller. Andrea featured as a fan favourite of the worldwide Star Wars audience; she was a Jawa!
The diminutive cape wearers made scavenging cool long before Rey came along and featured early in A New Hope as we were slowly introduced to the wide variety of creatures that Star Wars would treat us to. Admittedly, Andrea has grown a lot since portraying a Jawa although it was hard not to as she was a kid at the time! Now a gym owner, Andrea takes us through her life now, skipping school to be a Jawa and a headless R2-D2…
Thanks for talking us through your Star Wars story Andrea, how have you been keeping busy through lockdown?
I own a gym in San Francisco that has been closed since March 14 due to Covid-19, so we had to switch to doing online training quickly. It was like building a new business in a couple of days! We have just recently been allowed to start training some clients outside as well, which has been great. I also have three kids ages 12, 14 and 16 and so I can honestly say I have never been busier!
What kind of work are you involved in these days?
I own the gym with my husband. I’ve been in the fitness industry for most of my life and always planned on opening my own gym. I was lucky enough to do this five years ago, up until now, we have been very successful. We are hoping to be able to weather this Covid-19 storm we are currently in. I usually do a couple of conventions a year, but unfortunately this has also been put on hold for the time being.
I think you’ve told this story a fair few times, how did you become a Jawa as a kid?
I was living in Death Valley from the age of four until I was nine. When I was in second grade, seven years old, we had a strange request from a group making a film. They asked the school if it would be alright if they used eight kids in their movie and the school agreed. Remember this was late 70’s and I’m sure that they thought this would be a great experience for the kids. Boy were they right!
A few people working for the film showed up to school and measured several kids for height. I happened to be the right height that they were looking for, so I was one of the lucky ones to be chosen.
We were paid for two days of work, we received $25 in cash. Our first day we were taken to a hotel room to be sized for our costumes. The second day, we were taken out to the filming location which is very close to Artists Palette (Death Valley, USA). We carried R2-D2 up a hill several times, it was exciting and tiring!
Jawa’s at seven years old! How are your school reunions now?
I keep in touch with several friends from Death Valley on Facebook, but I left when I was nine, so no school reunions with this group unfortunately. I am now really good friends with another fellow Jawa actor, Tim Donaldson, we have done all of our conventions together. We are trying to get all of the Jawas together, but that has been challenging, as some of them can’t be found!
That sounds like a challenge! What would you say is your best story from working on Star Wars? The one that you remember most fondly.
My fondest memory is the excitement of being picked and getting out of school! I remember how excited and nervous I was about putting on the Jawa outfit, I was afraid of the glowing eyes! One of the funniest memories now, is at one point when we were carrying R2-D2 his head fell off!
How was it wearing that costume in that heat? I assume carrying R2-D2 won’t have helped!
Luckily, this all took place in January of 1977, when the weather can get quite cold.
Going a bit deeper into how it affects you now. Why do you think there is so much interest even now so many years on?
Watching A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi in the movie theater is something that I will never forget. The fact that I can vividly remember watching A New Hope at the age of eight speaks volumes. The films were so different from anything I had ever seen. The lovable R2-D2 and the strength and beauty of Princess Leia and the overall excitement and intensity of this “space film” is every girls dream!
I have asked a lot of people involved in Star Wars this question as a collector of Star Wars merchandise myself. Do you wonder “why do people want my autograph”?
Several years ago, when a collector reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in doing a signing for their group, I was really sceptical. I could not wrap my head around why someone would want my autograph. Now that I have been doing this for a couple of years, I totally get it. It’s a deep love for a movie and wanting to have a piece of it is exciting and fun.
Finally, you mentioned you attend a couple of conventions a year, how do you find attending them?
I have only done a few conventions and had a blast doing them. My first one I was very nervous, like who would want my autograph? Will I be sitting at an empty table? I was pleasantly surprised to find that many people were interested not just in the autograph but my story as well. I have met so many wonderful people through conventions that all have one thing in common, we all love Star Wars.
Thanks to Andrea for joining us! Check out the gym Andrea now owns by clicking here and you can find her on Twitter and Instagram with the great username @hotjawa.
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 story of Jack Klaff who also featured in Star Wars – A New Hope as X-Wing pilot Red Four, click here for more!