'Star Wars' stunt guru to teach lightsaber moves at convention
Nick Gillard loves it when he can get people to jump off a building.
Gillard is a longtime stunt coordinator for the movies. His job is to make actors do things they never thought possible.
"It's a great thing when an actor who'd kicked and screamed about doing a particular stunt — 'Why can't this be easier?' — suddenly realizes that he can actually pull it off," Gillard said during a phone interview from his home in England. "That's always a highlight for me."
Gillard served as stunt coordinator on all three prequels in the "Star Wars" movie series. Among other tasks, he helped actors like Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christiansen learn the moves in the many lightsaber battles that occur in the films.
Gillard will don his "lightsaber master" hat again for this weekend's Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont, where he'll be leading a series of clinics in the art of lightsaber fighting.
These "Jedi Lightsaber Master Class" sessions will be held throughout the weekend, and they require a separate ticket for admission, with prices up to $150. Go to wizardworld.ticketleap.com/sithsabreclass2/.
"I've enjoyed the conventions I've done so far in America," he said. "It's funny: Here in England, no one on the street really knows what I do. But in America, I actually get recognized. 'Star Wars' is big everywhere, of course, but in America it's gone up one level, I'd say. And it seems to be growing, which is wonderful."
Gillard had worked with LucasFilm, George Lucas' production company, on projects like the television show "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" before being hired for the prequels. He said the lightsaber battles were one of the tougher challenges he faced on those films.
"It was a new thing — sword fighting, but also martial arts," he said. "We had to reinvent something for those movies, which was a big task. But it was never frightening to me, really. When you're in a universe far, far away, that gives you a lot of freedom. You can get away with a lot."
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