MORE than 30 years after she played Jabba the Hutt’s green-skinned dancer, Femi Taylor is coming to meet Star Wars fans in Bournemouth. The actress and dancer will be at Charfest, a science fiction-themed weekend organised by Bournemouth’s Angela Howard for Victim No More, her charity supporting victims of rape and domestic violence.
“I didn’t even say ‘Let me think about it’ – I’m in,” said Femi.
She recalled her inauspicious audition for the iconic role in Return of the Jedi. She was appearing in the West End production of Cats when she was called to dance in a bikini a room above a Twickenham pub, The Turk’s Head, with no idea what the film would be.
“In the late 70s and 80s it was a dive, it was horrible. When we were told we were doing that up there, I thought ‘This is really sad. They can’t even afford to get a nice enough audition room’,” she said.
She remembers telling the casting director: “I hope this is not a sleazy film.”
She later learned she would be in the third Star Wars epic, wearing green all-over make-up which would leave her confined to a dressing room when the cameras were not rolling. “I couldn’t really go anywhere. I remember my food being taken to me in the dressing room,” she said.
She added: “Looking back on it, I was really impressed by the scale of the studio and how they built the whole Jabba palace. It was one massive set.”
She had little chance to speak to Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher but remembers Mark Hamill being “lovely”.
She met him again at a convention last year. “Mark had never seen me as Femi,” she said. “He said ‘It’s so good to see you’.”
Oola was originally a bigger part which was scaled back. “I think it was to do with budget. Looking back, it was a shame,” said Femi.
But despite her short screen time, Oola was one of the film’s most distinctive characters. “She became an iconic figure,” said Femi.
Today, Femi is a 53-year-old mother-of-two with a freelance career designing kitchens, but is happy when the subject of Oola comes up. “I’m proud to have played her,” she said.
She said she loves meeting fans. “I always give people the time. It’s great to meet new people and honour their passion. I have nothing but positivity,” she said.
Charfest runs from August 22 to 24 at Avon Social Club, Charminster. Tickets range from £6 for a day visit to £40 for a VIP weekend. Visit charfest.info