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Declan Mulholland (Original Jabba the Hutt) Autograph

December 14, 2009

Jabba the Hutt is mentioned in the first Star Wars movie, but we never saw him until Return of the Jedi several years later. However, he was originally supposed to appear in A New Hope in a scene where he confronts Han at the Mos Eisley Spaceport, and they actually shot the scene using an Irish actor named Declan Mulholland in the role of Jabba. (Here is a restoration of the cut scene.)

I have read that George Lucas always wanted to replace Mulholland with some sort of alien creature, but it wasn’t possible given the technology at the time, so they cut the scene. I’m not sure if I completely believe that, since it should have been obvious before shooting that 1970s technology wasn’t up to something like that (at least given the way they set up this scene). And if he had always intended to remove Mulholland you would think that he wouldn’t have needed to be in full costume, and they would have been more careful about things like Han moving around in front and in back of him, which caused problems even decades later when they were trying to add the CGI Jabba (they had to make it look like Han somehow stepped on Jabba’s tail, which seems ludicrous).

In any case, the scene was taken out of the original release of A New Hope, but was restored for the Special Editions released in the 1990s, using a (horrible) CGI version of Jabba in place of Mulholland. They did improve it a bit a few years later, but it’s still not much like Jabba as he was in Return of the Jedi. (Here’s a clip comparing the unchanged version with Mulholland, the original CGI Jabba, and the improved version they made a few years later for the DVD release). Aside from the fact that the CGI Jabba looks silly, the scene doesn’t work for me in the story. I think it’s better if we just hear about Jabba until the big reveal in ROTJ, but maybe that’s just me.

Mr. Mulholland passed away about 10 years ago, but was a successful character actor in his own right and also gained a little fame amongst Star Wars fans as the “original Jabba the Hutt.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 17, 2011 11:11 am

    Ohhh, that’s a pretty interesting addition to the collection.

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