When Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker enter the Mos Eisley cantina for a transport to the Alderaan system, Han Solo was not the first pilot they talked to. A brief scene depicts Obi-Wan talking to someone else, seemingly asking for a ride to the planet. This man, for reasons unknown, turns down the job offer, and sets Kenobi up with Chewbacca. The rest, as they say, is galactic history; a fateful meeting between a Corellian smuggler and a Jedi in training that would shift the future of the universe, unbeknownst to them.
He’s on screen for less than a minute, but the pilot Obi-Wan first talks to, identified as BoShek, has still become a big part of Star Wars lore. Like so many other minor characters in a galaxy far, far away, he was turned into an action figure, allowing fans to play out the intriguing “what if” scenario where Obi-Wan and Luke never meet Han. Oddly enough, however, the actor who played BoShek in A New Hope has never been revealed. That piece of the Star Wars puzzle troubled true crime journalist Bill Jensen, who took it upon himself to uncover the name of the uncredited thespian.
In a post on his website, Jensen shared the story of how he became involved with this particular case. His interest was piqued while attending the “Secrets of Mos Eisley Cantina” panel at the Anaheim Convention Center during Star Wars Celebration 2015, hosted by Tom Spina and Pablo Hidalgo. The two presenters have very strong ties to the franchise. Spina rebuilt the cantina setup for a Volkswagon commercial, and Hidalgo is the creative executive at Lucasfilm and a member of the famed Lucasfilm story group that oversees Star Wars canon. Jensen was surprised to discover that neither man knew the actor behind BoShek.
According to Jensen, at that moment he found his “sense of purpose in the Star Wars universe” and embarked on a mission to find the actor. He began by contacting Spina, asking for clues, but they were hard to come by. The only lead available was a screenshot from the U.K. television series The New Avengers, where the BoShek actor played another uncredited role. Spina also sent Jensen some production notes, which included names of the actors involved with that particular episode, part one of “K is for Kill: The Tiger Awakens.” Jensen took this information and reached out to various casting directors, actors, and collectors he thought would know the answers. He started threads on message boards asking about BoShek, and even sent emails to relatives of the actors listed on the production notes. Nothing turned up, until February 8, 2016.
That morning, Jensen received an email from a man named Barry Gregory, who stated that his grandfather was the one who played BoShek. Quickly emailing Gregory back, Jensen was put in contact with Gregory’s mother, Sylvia Holt, who confirmed Gregory’s claim. Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin portrayed BoShek in the original Star Wars film, and was also a stormtrooper. After nearly 40 years, one of the biggest Star Wars mysteries has finally been solved thanks to the curiosity of one intrepid reporter.
Unfortunately, Tomlin passed away more than 11 years ago, so he’ll never know of the efforts Jensen went through to uncover his identity. However, the revelation is a nice moment for Tomlin’s family, who are trying to get his name put on the credits so Tomlin receives the recognition he deserves. Jensen has followed up with Spina and is working on a way to make sure Tomlin’s place in Star Wars history is honored. How that’s accomplished remains to be seen, but Jensen’s work should go a long way in making something happen in the not too distant future.
Star Wars: Episode 7 – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, and will be followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode 8 on December 15th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode 9 is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Bill Jensen