“Who The Hell Is Boba Fett?” Dickey Beer Talks Being a Star Wars Stunt ManApril 7, 2015
Recently, I was able to sit down with Dirk Yohan Beer, otherwise known as Dicky Beer, while he was at Toronto Comic Con and he talked about his life as stuntman, the changes that technology has made and how he found out his was famous for his work on Return of the Jedi. He played six different characters in the Star Wars film, including being a stunt double for Jeremy Bulloch’s Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker, a biker scout tackled by Ewoks, Sergeant Junkin, a stormtrooper and Barada.
So, welcome to the Toronto Comic Con. At least you didn’t have to be here last month when it was one of the coldest, if not the coldest, February every here.
I love the snow, I love the cold. You can always put on clothes, more clothes to keep warm. When it’s really hot, there is only so much you can take off, you know? You get to certain point, and you’re still hot well, you’re in trouble, aren’t you?
Choosing a career as a stuntman sounds like a story all by itself. Was it something you were always interested in or do you sort of fall into it, pardon the pun.
I fell into it, literally. I had a good job, a good paying job, nine to five in a suit and it totally was not me. I hated it. I was one of those guys every day who would go to work and really not want to be there, and when I was there I was looking at the clock thinking when could I go home, one of those, even though I made good money I was not happy. Then one day I said that’s it, I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m going to look for something else, something I really like and literally three weeks later I walked into the film industry by sheer luck. I heard about an audition for a special x, what they first called them in those days, and went there and got the job and that’s it, the rest is history.
Wow, we should all be so lucky!
I was very lucky. Making it in this profession is fifty percent skill and fifty percent luck, definitely.
Since you have now been both in front the camera and behind the camera, have you noticed a change in the skill level of those in your profession?
Oh yeah, it’s changed a lot since when I first began. Also you have the upgrade in technology, especially CG that helps us a lot. For instance, I’ll give you an example: when I started we were doing high falls into cardboard boxes, you would unfold the boxes, pile them up and that’s what you’d fall into. Now they have decelerators, descenders, which is like a cable system so they put you on a cable and you can do a fall from any height, really. Take the tower outside, the CN Tower, you go from the top and fall at high speed and before you hit the ground you decelerate and you can actually land on your feet and walk away. In those days, the early days, that was certainly not possible so technology has changed our business a lot. Safety has always been a priority but nowadays with the technology, with all the equipment you have available you can make it really, really safe. Who wants to go home with a broken leg? Nobody. We all want to enjoy our evening meal when we get home after a good days work.
Is there a favorite stunt you have, whether it’s something you did yourself or by someone else?
No, not really. I like vehicles, I like cars, bikes, boats but no, I don’t have any favorites. My favorite stunt was always the successful stunt, like I was saying, where not just that it was done properly but everyone finished the same way they started, safe and sound.
Do you have any preference between being behind the camera or actually doing the stunts?
I like both, I like them both. Sometimes I work on films and I’m behind the camera directing the second unit and I still want to do stuff, every now and then I get in front of it, kind of throw myself in there. A lot of times as well I bring new kids into a film, those who are trying to break into the business and I try to help them. Sometimes I make wrong choices and I get a guy who isn’t really up to what I except of him and then I have to turn around and say sorry, I have to do it myself because it’s not going to work with you and then I’ll jump in and do it, whatever it is.
Were you at all prepared for the fandom that came with, and still surrounds, not just you as Boba Fett’s stunt double but being involved in the Star Wars franchise in general?
No, not at all and I’ll tell you a funny story there. Nine years ago my daughter came home and she said “Dad, you’re famous”, and I said “what are you talking about?” And she said “well there’s this kid in school and he’s got this book about Star Wars and you’re in there as one of the people who played Boba Fett”, and I went “who the hell is Boba Fett?” She showed me the picture and I said “oh yeah, I remember being in that costume” and that’s it, that was only nine years ago. I had totally forgotten about Boba Fett and the whole Star Wars thing. In the end I found out I played six roles, six different parts on Return of the Jedi and I doubled for Luke Skywalker but it all started for me nine years ago when my daughter came home and told me I was famous for something I’d forgotten about.