Greedo Actor On ‘Maclunkey’: ‘It Confused Me Incredibly’ – Exclusive
By Ben Travis Posted 25 days ago
Han shot first. Then Greedo shot first. And then came ‘Maclunkey’. If Disney expected to dominate the streaming wars conversation with the Stateside launch of its major new Disney+ streaming service this week, it likely didn’t anticipate that the one thing everyone would be talking about was ‘Maclunkey’. Sure, there was excitement about the launch of The Mandalorian and the arrival of the Star Wars films in 4K HDR – but it was all overshadowed by yet another tweak to the much-meddled-with Greedo scene in A New Hope, a small, seemingly insignificant edit which sees the bug-eyed Rodian say something like ‘Maclunkey!’ just before his ignominious demise in the Mos Eisley Cantina.
‘Maclunkey’ spread like internet wildfire – with memes, Tweets, and entire articles dedicated to decoding Greedo’s bizarre new exclamation. To get to the inside story on the biggest talking point in the galaxy, Empire called the one man qualified to give the final word – Paul Blake, the original actor under that iconic green Greedo mask. And that final word is, of course, ‘Maclunkey’.
Empire: Did you watch the new version of the scene?
Paul Blake: I did! I couldn’t understand a word of it. (laughs) It confused me incredibly, but I’ve never understood anything about the movies anyway, particularly that. The convention I’ve just come back from, I had a million opinions from everybody. This new word!
I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t hear a word at all, can you hear one?
Right before he shoots at Han, Greedo says something that sound like ‘Maclunkey’.
(Bursts out laughing) Yeah, well he’s talking about his Scottish grandmother there. Greedo had a Scottish grandmother and an Irish grandfather, and a Rodian step-mother. That’s why he shouted ‘Maclunkey’ just before he died. He’s about to meet his grandfather. How absolutely absurd, what is George [Lucas] doing these days?
Larry Ward voiced Greedo in the film – but have you ever said the phrase ‘Maclunkey’ before?
No, it certainly wasn’t in the dialogue. I mean, Larry did the little bits and pieces later on, none of the voice stuff was done at Elstree. Some of my own words were used, I believe, which were scrambled electronically.
What do you think ‘Maclunkey’ means?
You’re asking me stuff that I have no idea about! I really don’t know. I’ve got the script here still, but I haven’t looked at it for about 20 years – it’s somewhere up in my attic. I now will actually go through it, I’m sure it doesn’t say ‘Maclunkey’, even though my memory as a 70-year-old is appalling. It was just the simple phrases as you see in the movie.
Mike Carter, who plays Bib Fortuna, texted me and said, ‘MACLUNKEY!’
So the script itself has the alien language written out?
No, Greedo wasn’t even a Rodian when we filmed it, he was just called ‘The Alien’. George was forced to stick in that scene when he cut all the stuff with Declan [Mulholland], who played the original Jabba The Hutt. My little bit in English was just a simple, straightforward cowboy scene. ‘Going somewhere? Give me the money. If you don’t give me the money, I’ll shoot you. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.’ That’s about it, as far as I can remember. I certainly don’t remember the word ‘Maclunkey’. Are you sure that’s not the noise he made when his very brittle green head hit the table? Or he was saying ‘ouch’ in Rodian just before he fired?
Do you get notified when there’s going to be a new version of the scene? How did you hear about this version?
Mike Carter, who plays Bib Fortuna, the guy in Jabba’s palace with the strange long ears, he texted me and said, ‘MACLUNKEY!’ I said, ‘What the fuck are you talking about?’ He said, ‘New discovery! It could be as important as Howard Carter and the Tutankhamun tomb.’ I didn’t know what he was talking about for 10 minutes, until I had a look at the scene and thought, ‘Oh right, yeah.’ Disney or Lucasfilm, they’re the last people that ever inform us of anything really – unless it’s the lawyers, then we hear from them pretty quick.
Do you think it adds anything, Greedo getting this extra line in before the shooting?
Oh god, I mean I have no idea. People have their own opinion about all this stuff themselves. What’s really cool is that all the fans feel such an involvement with those early three movies, on anything new that happens. A new bit like this will create a storm of opinion again.
You said the question you always get from fans is, ‘Who shot first?’ Are you ready for them coming up to you and saying ‘Maclunkey’?
I’m looking forward to that a great deal! I shall say it was Greedo’s last gasp. It’s a Rodian thing. Just before you expire, every Rodian says ‘Maclunkey’. It’s some ancient tradition. I read there’s an interpretation that it means, ‘ma-dong-key’. ‘My donkey’, I think, is another reference to the horse waiting outside the Cantina that Greedo was in.
The Han and Greedo scene has been tweaked so many times over the years. What do you think the bee in George Lucas’ bonnet is over that scene?
I don’t know. I think it’s just because there’s a big hole in the movie there. That scene where Greedo dies, I’m there in the next scene. George’s explanation for that was very funny, ‘Well, all Rodians looks the same.’ What, they wear the same clothes? ‘Oh yes.’ George has a great sense of humour, so maybe that’s got something to do with it. But also, I think he’s pressurised a lot by people and wants to do the right thing by both the fans and the story. But god knows, your guess is as good as mine.
Did you expect, 40-plus years ago, that the scene would be so heavily discussed, and continually evolving in new cuts?
No. The most I ever had in other TVs or movies or theatre plays I did was, ‘Well that was fucking shite!’ And then we moved on. The occasional word of praise was wonderful. You only remember the bad criticism. I’ve never had a fan be aggressive about Greedo. They seem to like him for some reason, I don’t know why – he was the most inept assassin since the beginning of assassins. Talk about 43 Ronin, he would have been number 297 Ronin and wouldn’t have made it out of the gates of the school.
Do you think there’s anything more that can be changed in that scene at this point?
God, no! Not unless it’s cut completely, and then the fans would go, ‘Where the fuck is the Greedo scene?!’ They ask me all the time, am I going to go back and do the next one. Well, I’m retired – even if Greedo does come back it’s going to be another actor, which is fantastic and it should be the case. He’d be more athletic for a start. He may be able to get a shot off even quicker.
This ‘Maclunkey’ version is on Disney+ which doesn’t arrive in the UK until March. Are you going to sign up to watch it?
I’m not even signed up to the post office!
I guess the only thing to say now is, ‘Maclunkey!’ That’s the new sign off.
I’m going to put that on my Christmas cards to everyone.
Disney+ launches in the UK on 31 March 2020.
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