ShortList got a role in the new Star Wars film

If you don’t know that the latest film in the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars The Force Awakens, is coming out this weekend, or that part of it was filmed in Abu Dhabi, you must never go on the internet. Ever.

The crew caused UAE Star Wars fans to go into meltdown mode, as they held an open casting for extras. Of course, we were there elbowing people out of the way (if that was you, we’re sorry) and we bagged a role as a security guard in the Smugglers Market. Here’s the lowdown on how it went for us, and two other lucky UAE residents.

Mark Pickup
Day job: Sales Director at ShortList
Star Wars role: A security guard at Smugglers Market – I was one of only five extras who got to carry a weapon! The laser gun was 60cm long, strapped to my left leg and was security chipped. I had to check it in and out after every scene.
Scenes: On the very first morning, I was well out of camera shot, so as each take was recorded I kept edging myself closer to the camera. JJ Abrams noticed and came over to me and said, “Sir, I am envious of your height but please could you walk in that direction for 10 minutes!” and I spent day one and day two miles out of shot. Day three, though, I was in the thick of the action in the middle of a shoot-out with Stormtroopers in the Smugglers Market. One of the best days of my life!
Souvenirs: I’m from Liverpool, of course I did! I nabbed an oil can from the Smugglers Market.

Mel Pickup
Day job: Operations Manager at Topshop ME
Star Wars role: A creature which was called “bellows”, although all the names were changed to keep everything secret. It was a real challenge to play; not only are you in heavy clothing but I had a very large headmask on, which had to be attached to my body and was extremely heavy and hot. I couldn’t see or hear a thing and my mask had moving eyes which added to the challenge of walking and manoeuvring around the set.
Scenes: I was in various scenes, but the one I hope will be in the film is where Finn, played by John Boyega, bumps into me as he’s stumbling through the marketplace. I was in almost every scene in the Abu Dhabi filming so I’m hoping that you’ll see me.
Brushes with fame: My golden moment was when we finished a scene in the marketplace. I took my mask off and JJ Abrams looked in my direction and said, “I didn’t realise you were a girl!”

Lee Drinkwater
Night job: DJ
Star Wars role: I was the military consultant initially, training all the Stormtroopers. It was heaps of fun seeing those guys running round in those suits in the desert while I was shouting at them! I was also an extra as well – with a bionic arm!
Scenes: I’ve seen a clip where Daisy is kneeling down next to the new R2D2-type thing. I walk literally right next to her, looking angry. Apparently, JJ Abrams wanted me “there!” I was also scanned for green-screen stuff later.
Brushes with fame: I met JJ and we had a conversation about my silly boots and my robotic arm, to which he replied….”You’re Robo-Spice!” He was amazing with all the extras, film crew and staff.
Souvenirs: I really want a picture of me training the Stormtroopers. I was shown one by the PR lady with me in the middle of six of them without their helmets on, blasters pointing at the camera. I have to get that pic!

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