May the 4th: An Interview with Han Solo and soon-to-be Obi-Wan Kenobi Actor, Jamie Costa
Star Wars has been around for over forty years now and whilst The Last Jedi certainly divided fans, the franchise is still as successful as it was when it came out in 1977. With the recent release of the Episode IX title as The Rise of Skywalker and its teaser trailer, the hype for the galaxy far, far away has grown enormously in the last couple of weeks. In order to celebrate May the 4th and the ultimate end of the Skywalker saga, we have an exclusive interview with filmmaker, actor, impressionist, voice artist and Star Wars fan, Jamie Costa.
Costa became widely well-known in 2014, after releasing a tribute video for the late Robin Williams, in which he performs several different impressions of Williams’ most iconic characters. After the video went viral, Costa continued to invest in his impressions and posting them to his YouTube channel and his social media accounts. Going from characters like Marty McFly and Gandalf to actors such as Matthew McConaughey and Owen Wilson, Costa’s impressions have certainly earned him a loyal fanbase that continues to support the actor’s increasingly successful projects in the most recent years.
In 2016, after receiving considerable attention due to his striking resemblance to Harrison Ford, Costa took his impressions of Ford to the next level. The young actor starred in Han Solo: A Smuggler’s Trade – A Star Wars Fan Film as the beloved scoundrel. The project, which was solely funded through a crowdfunding campaign, has more than 2.4M views on YouTube and has been critically acclaimed.
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For his most recent endeavour, Costa is raising funds through another crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to make a new Star Wars fan film called KENOBI – A Star Wars Fan Film in which he’ll bring to life the iconic Jedi Knight previously portrayed by Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor.
Having been keeping up with Costa’s work for over four years now, I recently reached out to him on Instagram, to which he replied and very nicely agreed to have a chat with me about A Smuggler’s Trade, KENOBI and all things Star Wars.
Malu Barroso: You’re no stranger to fan films. You’ve worked around X-Men, Jurassic Park and now Star Wars for the second time. How did you first get involved with that medium and what do you think is the importance of fan films nowadays?
Jamie Costa: Yes, I am a sucker for a fan film. They are a wonderful way to express fandom and of course, as an actor and filmmaker, get some fun experience! I love celebrating these characters and universes and this is my favourite way I know how. I chase quality and story more than anything these days so if it has that, I’m in. There’s definitely no 1, 2, 3 on how I got into them other than constantly investing into the craft (acting), being a true fan, applying my filmmaking experience and desiring to deliver the very best for others to enjoy.
Malu Barroso: You’ve probably heard about the Vader Episode I: Shards of the Past fan film and its copyright claim. How do you make a good fan film without stepping on the creators’ toes with copyrights and on the fans’ toes with storylines and arcs? Is there a fine line in which you can please everyone?
Jamie Costa: Yes, and I joined in celebration when it was resolved with Lucasfilm stepping in to say all was good. I believe the only thing that was called into question was the music in the specific situation. It’s simple though, as long as you aren’t making money off the films or discrediting the franchise or acting as if its official affiliation of the owners, you’re good to go. That’s why there are so many that pop up in a quick YouTube search. Also, they really do help the franchises stay alive! Fans love it when they see other fans celebrating what they love.
Malu Barroso: We’ve recently had a Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. I know you attended a Celebration around the time you were doing A Smuggler’s Trade, so how has the Star Wars community been treating you? When people see you in events like that, do they recognise you? Are they really receptive and excited as you’d expect them to be?
Jamie Costa: They are some coolest nicest people I know. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging, it’s so cool, man. They do and of course, it’s so fun to geek out with each other!
Malu Barroso: One of the things I enjoyed the most about A Smuggler’s Trade is that it’s not an origin story. You didn’t try to justify or expose anything about the character’s past, it’s just Han Solo in a little adventure being the Han Solo we all know and love. Is that the same approach you and your team are taking with KENOBI?
Jamie Costa: A very different character and a very different story for sure. KENOBI will have much more purpose and imagined closure to his arc following the events of Episode 3. Though we will strive to maintain high production quality and continuity to the cinematic feel of Star Wars.
Malu Barroso: I remember there was some buzz a while ago about you auditioning for Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018). If you did an audition, how was that process? And what did you think of the finished film and Alden Ehrenreich’s embodiment of the character?
Jamie Costa: I can neither deny nor confirm officially auditioning for Solo. It was a decent movie but as a fan and one who has studied up on the character, I have some Jamie notes on how I would’ve done it. I personally would’ve been interested in seeing it as highly produced miniseries, maybe even on the new Disney+. I got to shake Alden’s hand at the premiere and congratulate him. He got the part and that’s an accomplishment. Any critique on him as the character would not be fair for me to say.
Malu Barroso: I saw you were doing a workout routine the other day and you got an Obi-Wan haircut recently, so I assume that’s all part of your preparation for the film. Besides the physical aspect of it, how are you approaching the role? Do you read books and comic books? And whose Obi-Wan would you say you’re channelling more, Alec Guinness’ or Ewan McGregor’s?
Jamie Costa: Oh, that was just for fun to help spread awareness to the campaign and give some smiles. My preparation consists primarily of soaking up all the relevant understanding of Obi-Wan Kenobi (digesting books, comics, and of course the films), so I know exactly how he would be in any situation and get an accurate grasp on his thoughts and feelings towards everyone. And of course, pushing myself in acting class and in other projects so I can be the best I can be when I arrive on set. The beard is fun to groom into character as well.
Malu Barroso: I did a bit of research on you and I learnt you come from a military background, is that correct? Do you think having attended a military school is gonna give the advantage to portray the focus, the strength and the persistence of a Jedi Knight?
Jamie Costa: I did attend and graduate a military boarding school. I learned many things there that I have been able to carry over into almost every area of my life since. So yes, most certainly.
Malu Barroso: The crowdfunding campaign for KENOBI on Indiegogo is doing great, the project has been almost 30% funded by now. Congratulations! So tell us a little bit about the shooting; when you guys will start, where will it take place, how long will it be and when is the film scheduled to come out?
Jamie Costa: Yes, we are very pleased with the amount of support we’ve had so far! And not just financial. People like yourself taking an interest in seeing this character explored further and acknowledging our attempt to do that is so encouraging. It constantly refuels the hope tank! We have such an incredible team is built to carry out this ambitious project. I am partnering with Jadon Gauthier again to help with producing and since then we have had so many team members join in and will continue as we get closer to filming. We are aiming to film late summer/early fall but ultimately the goal is to get it completed and out before Episode 9. As for the rest, you’ll just have to keep an eye out for the behind the scenes on the KENOBI Facebook page and my YouTube channel!
Malu Barroso: I know you do a lot of impressions and they’re all equally fantastic and accurate, but the one that always gets to me is your Harrison Ford impression. It’s just uncanny! So after the success of A Smuggler’s Trade, have you considered doing another project based on a Ford character? I’m sure an Indiana Jones fan film would drive your fans insane, or maybe even a Blade Runner one?
Jamie Costa: Ya never know! Oh, do I love the Blade Runner films.
Malu Barroso: Since it’s May the 4th, do you mind sharing with us a little bit about how your passion for Star Wars started, how it has affected you life and, of course, some of predictions for The Rise of Skywalker?
Jamie Costa: I love Star Wars. The setting, music and themes of the first two trilogies especially. I grew up pretending I was Jedi (and a Sith from time to time). The hero’s journey is life to me. The redemption of Vader is hope fulfilled. Good vs Evil seems like an easy choice but oh, do we know it’s much more complicated than that… yet isn’t. I relate it to my life as a man of faith too. But as I’ve mentioned before, that’s another beautiful thing about Star Wars, it brings people together from all walks of life. As for the new instalment… I just hope it’s good and that it builds upon what made me initially fall in love with Star Wars!
KENOBI – A Star Wars Fan Film is scheduled to start filming this summer/early fall.
To help Costa and his crew raise to make their project come to life, make sure you go to their campaign page on Indiegogo.