For those of you who have enjoyed this interview and Brian's outstanding contribution to the art of cinema he has now released his autobiography:
"An amazing insight into the life and career of Brian Muir who famously
sculpted the iconic Darth Vader at the young age of 23.
With over 40 years experience working on 60 major films, Brian gives us a
window into the mysterious world behind the scenes.
His life's work reveals his unseen talent that is 'In the Shadow of
Visit his website http://www.brianmuirvadersculptor.com
to see some of his work spanning 40 years."This is an amazing read covering Brian's long and illustrious career in cinema and some really fascinating pictures of his work.I highly recommend this!INTERVIEW WITH BRIAN MUIRI am now very pleased to bring this interview with the very talented sculptor Brian Muir to my site.Brian was responsible,during his career in film,for sculpting the iconic armour and helmet for Darth Vader and also the equally iconic armour for the Imperial Stormtroopers.
Brian Muir was born in 1952 in London and his parents moved to a little known
village called Borehamwood in Hertfordshire the home of Elstree Studios.
At 16 Brian Muir was offered a 4 year apprenticeship as a sculptor/modeller by his careers officer. As well as being assigned practical work for films at the
studios Brian also attended Sir John Cass Art College in Aldgate and then onto
Kennington Art College a year later.
Brian left the studios when he completed his apprenticeship and worked for a company Bradfords for 3 years.Brian worked on
many prestigeous commissions including a plaque for the Stock Exchange (unveiled
by the Queen).
Then in 1976 Brian returned to Elstree Studios to work on
Star Wars - A New Hope.
Brian continues to work in the film industry, and has
just finished on the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince currently being
filmed at Leavesden Studios. During Brian's distinguished 40 year career he has worked on over 60
Brian lives in Iver, Bucks with his wife and has 3 grown up
children.Brian working on the coat of arms for the Crown Court,1974Bigbaddaddyvader.com:How did you come to be involved in the production of Star Wars?
Brian Muir: I was asked by Arthur Healey, the old guy I served my apprenticeship under, if I would like a start on a film called ‘Star Wars’ and I jumped at the chance.
BBDV:What was your original briefing for the work you would carry out?
BM:.I was told it was for a Science Fiction film and that I would be sculpting some type of futuristic characters. I was given drawings for each project as required.
BBDV:What were your first thoughts when you saw Ralph McQuarrie's concept art?
BM: The first Ralph McQuarrie painting I saw was of the Stormtroopers. My thoughts were that they were very detailed and good reference to work from.
BBDV:After seeing the concept work did you have any immediate thoughts about how to approach the characters?
BM: Having seen the concept work I realized that I would need a full plaster figure to be able to sculpt the armour and head on in clay. I also realized the Stormtrooper armour would have to be sculpted in separate sections for fitting purposes.
BBDV:Which piece did you start work on first and did you have a specific reason for this?
BM: I started on the Stormtrooper armour initially because the suits were needed in Tunisia for filming by 26th March 76 and they had to be sculpted, moulded,cast in plaster, carved to sharpen lines, remolded and recast in fiberglass to be used as tools in the the vacuum forming process. At least 50 suits were required for the film.
BBDV:What Were the challenges you found about realising the concepts?
BM:There were no technical challenges as the sculpting side came easily but like anything artistic it’s subjective and with the input of John Barry (designer) and George Lucas changes were made.
BBDV:What was your first impression on how to accomplish
Darth Vader and how to make the result both practical and effective to
BM: I needed a plaster cast of Dave Prowse’s body and head to know that the finished helmet and armour would fit him.
From the practical side I knew that to have a minimum thickness of ¼ inch of clay to ensure there would be a casting thickness in fiberglass from the mould. Darth Vader’s character and menacing look evolved in the sculpt.Brian Muir-from 1978 to present working on the" Death Star droid" and with his creations.
Which aspect of Darth Vader did you feel was the most immediately important and
BM: The eyes being open and reflective made them appear piercing and with the addition of the helmet’s widow’s peak the menacing look was accentuated.
How did you come to the look of the armour and how was this accomplished?
BM:Although the mask and helmet were sculpted from a sketch by John Mollo, wardrobe designer, the armour was true to the Ralph McQuarrie Painting with a few changes in the 3 dimensional process.
BBDV:What was your input on C-3PO after Liz Moore left the production?
BM: I carved the oblong recesses in C3P0’s helmet, sharpened the plaster cast of the helmet and armour. I sculpted the hands on the back of Anthony Daniel’s hands in clay. This is not usual practice but they were required in a rush.
Although they were sufficient for A New Hope they were sculpted properly by Roy Rogers for Empire Strikes Back.
BBDV:In light of the recent much publicised dispute between Lucasfilm and SDS can you now state what your part and input and work on the Stormtrooper helmet and armour was?Who was responsible for the final look of the helmet in particular?
BM: As is now known, Liz Moore sculpted the Stormtrooper helmet and is responsible for the final look. She left Elstree Studios to go to Holland where she sculpted the helmet. I was unaware of this until recently and am glad that she has now been credited with such an admired piece of work. It appears that the ears were added at a later date, possibly to hide the joints,but it is not known who sculpted them.
I was responsible for all the armour on the Stormtrooper. Pieces were added: ammunition belt,shoulder straps,knee plate and knee boxes. These were made from wood for vacuum forming and probably made by the carpenters shop.
BBDV:What did you feel were the most important aspects of the design for the stormtrooper helmets and armour?
BM: The armour was made to look as if it was a complete suit but with the movement it opens up and each part mirrors the next. Unfortunately during the process of being replicated it has lost its original form. It is a well balanced concept which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The armour gave the actors freedom of movement so they did not look robotic.Ralph McQuarrie’s concept of the helmet was also aesthetically correct and a good balance with the armour and in my opinion Liz Moore achieved everything Ralph McQuarrie portrayed in his concept.
BBDV:Can you share some more detail about your work methods and how you move from general concept to reality?
BM:The main thing with sculpting is not just to get the drawing right but to get the form right so it looks correct from every angle. From the very start of the sculpt you are moving from concept to 3 dimensional reality.
BBDV:Although you worked on Star Wars for a relatively short time your work has become iconic and timeless.When you first saw Star Wars on the big screen what was your impression of your work?
BM: The rest of the crew and I were extremely impressed with the film on completion. I was very proud of the work I had done and it was fantastic to see it come to life on the screen.
Seeing Darth Vader on screen was one thing but with the addition of the sound of the breathing apparatus and the voice of James Earl Jones it was a masterpiece.The helmet, mask and armour all worked well but the cloak was a work of genius. Darth Vader’s overall presence was phenomenal - he was the total focus of attention when he appeared on screen.Darth Vader,Star Wars:Episode IV:A New Hope,1977BBDV:What are your thoughts on the redesigned Darth Vader helmet for episode III?
BM: I think it was very professionally sculpted but somehow lacked the character of the original Darth Vader - although some would say that I’m obviously biased.
BBDV:What are your best memories of working on the film?
BM: My best memories are of enjoying the challenge of a new project. I was pleased to be back in the film industry and had great pleasure in working with Liz Moore, John Mollo and many others.
BBDV:Do you have any negative memories of your time on the film?
BM: My negative memories are of having completed 2 weeks of evening overtime was then told that I was not entitled to payment - only weekend overtime was paid. I worked 76 days straight and felt extremely tired at the finish.
BBDV:How do you feel your work has contributed to cinema overall?
BM: Although I am proud of so many of my sculpts that have appeared on screen I have to acknowledge that I am only a small part of a large team of very skilled workers in the film industry. I do hope that my work has enhanced the visual impact on each film I’ve worked on.
Ironically with all the lavish work I have accomplished both in and out of the film industry in the last 30 years it appears that I will be remembered for Darth Vader.
BBDV:You still have a very close relationship with the fans.What would be the message you would have for them about your work and their appreciation for it?
BM: Until recently (30 years on) I was totally unaware of the impact my work on Star Wars, particularly Darth Vader, had on peoples’ lives. It’s only now having contact with the fan base and receiving so many complimentary remarks and how inspired some say they have been to try sculpting for themselves that I have come to realise the influence my Darth Vader sculpt had on them. I’m amazed and flattered that they attribute this to my work all those years ago.
I’ve been lucky in my life to have had the opportunity to pursue a very satisfying career and to be appreciated for it is such a bonus.
I would like to draw attention to the following Facebook links for both Brian and his wife Lindsay:
The Dark Side of SDS:
The Original Stormtrooper:
Both these links are important to draw attention to the TRUE facts regarding the genesis of the stormtroopers and the real facts regarding their creation.I would particularly like to draw attention to the tireless work carried out by Lindsay on both her husband and Liz Moore's behalf.Brian signing for me at Celebration Europe,London,2007I would like to express my thanks to Brian for taking the time to speak with me and to say what a pleasure it has been talking with him.I wish Brian and his family all the very best in the future and to thank him for his fantastic work.UPDATE FEBRUARY 18TH,BELFAST,ODYSSEY ARENA:
Brian with myself and my sons Lucas (on the left) and Gabriel.