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Rare Star Wars production items head to auction

The Elstree Studios, where Star Wars was filmed, pictured at an earlier era in 1966

Entertainment

Rare Star Wars production items head to auction

Excalibur Auctions, a renowned name in the world of Toys and Collectables is excited to offer a never-before-seen part of Star Wars history the company has announced.

The original draft script used by Hollywood actor Harrison Ford when he was in the UK in 1976, to play Han Solo in the first-ever Star Wars film, is set to go to auction.

The script, which has come to light after nearly 50 years, was discarded by Ford in the London flat he was renting, after he took part in filming at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire, UK. The owners of the property he rented held onto it for posterity for all these years, having come to know Ford during his time as a tenant and it will now be offered for sale to the public by the family in Excalibur Auctions’ Collectors’ Cavern Auction on February 17, 2024.

Filming for the epic space fantasy written by George Lucas and originally titled The Adventures of Luke Starkiller, took place at the Borehamwood facilities in Hertfordshire, UK in 1976, with the film being released the following year. The studio lot Star Wars was filmed in was demolished in the 1990s and a Tesco Extra now resides on that part of the historic site.

However, Star Wars remains popular and the role of Han Solo would skyrocket Ford’s acting career and led to his reprising of the role in four Star Wars sequels released over the next four decades. Ford was given a budget by the film studio and chose a flat to rent in London’s famous Notting Hill in West London, to travel easily to the Elstree Studios for filming. It was here he formed a friendship with the family who are now offering the script and several other items relating to Ford, for sale.

The family told the auction house that in 1976 their grandmother put an advertisement in The Sunday Times for a ‘Flat to Let’, as she and her husband were looking for a lodger in their home. Harrison Ford was the person that came to view it and on meeting them he decided to accept the rental.

The owners lived on the bottom floors of the house in Elgin Crescent in Notting Hill in West London, while Ford occupied the top two floors. Oblivious to the celebrity world, the couple had no idea who he was and that a Hollywood actor was staying in their home. The property owner’s comment about Ford was simply:

“He was an excellent tenant, very tidy”.

With no idea who their guest was, the owners simply mentioned to their cleaner that they had ‘a lodger’ staying. She subsequently fainted on encountering the actor and realising who ‘the lodger’ was! During Ford’s stay, there were many celebrity visits to the house, with Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia and Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, visiting frequently. The owners had no idea who they were either and didn’t even know Mark Hamill’s name, referring to him simply as ‘the boy’, as that was how Harrison referred to him.

Some of the items left behind by Harrison Ford

As they got to know their famous tenant, we are told the owners struck up a genuine rapport with Ford, spending time in the garden having drinks and relaxing after filming. One particularly touching story the owner recalls is Ford giving them money to purchase new plants for their garden, as they all spent so much time there. She recalled: “Summer 1976 was a great time”, Ford even attended her son’s first birthday party in said garden! She summarises: “He was an ideal tenant! It really was a fun time.”

On leaving the flat Ford left the script behind. It was a revised fourth draft of Star Wars Episode IV:  A New Hope, originally titled as it is here, The Adventures of Luke Star Killer as taken from the Journal of the Whills by George Lucas (Saga I) Star Wars (March 15, 1976).

The script is incomplete (most pages up to page 88 including the famous “Chasm scene”) and unbound with differing-coloured pages indicating revisions. In the current copy we see page 56, a pivotal scene, in the film, which is the first time we are introduced to the character of Han Solo, played by Ford. There were five drafts of the first script and this 4th revised edition gives an interesting insight into the making of one of the most important blockbuster movies ever made, including scenes and characters that were cut from the final edit. It carries an estimate of £8,000-£12,000.

Alongside the script, Ford left other items, including a typed letter from his agent, Patricia McQueeney. It is dated April 16, 1976 and discusses his contracts and future film prospects. The letter also tells how Pat has spoken to Ford’s first wife Mary Marquardt, whom the actor was married to between 1964 and 1979. She mentions that she hasn’t heard from Ford, for which Pat scolds him! The jovial nature of the correspondence demonstrates the strong relationship that Ford had with his long-time agent, who represented him for over 35 years. It carries an estimate of £60-£80.

Also left in the flat was a pair of shooting schedules, a call sheet and a collection of notes. The call sheet is number 28 dated April 28th, 1976 for the ‘Death Star Hallway to Core Shaft’ scene numbers A110 and B110, featuring Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. The reverse of the call sheet has a hand-written note: ‘Browns Hotel, Dover St. Sunday 8th Robert Watts, Roast Beef’, which appears to refer to a meeting between Harrison Ford and the film producer Robert Watts, who worked with Ford on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series.

Star Wars Shooting Schedule no. 1 is dated 8th March 1976, one page is annotated with circles and there is writing on the back that reads ‘1st Tony Wayne 2nd Gerry and 3rd Terry’, who all worked as Assistant Directors on the film. Shooting Schedule no. 2 is dated April 23rd, 1976 and is annotated on two pages, scene 58 ‘Group arrived at grid, Montross leaving’ B58 – ‘Good bye to Montross’ and scene 50 ‘Han intro in cantina’ written in pencil. Other assorted notes including timings for parties and telephone numbers include one to the back of a card reading ‘For the good time – Her’. These will be sold as a group lot with an estimate of £800-£1,200.

Commenting on this extraordinarily personal insight into one of the key figures in the Star Wars franchise, Excalibur Auctions’ auctioneer Jonathan Torode:

“Although other copies of this script have come to market previously, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to offer a version with such wonderful provenance and attribution to Harrison Ford. The touching backstory to these items adds even more appeal for avid Star Wars fans and we anticipate huge interest from around the globe.”

The catalogue for this sale is published online from February 5th. For more information about the auction, including registration and bidding details, please visit the official Excalibur Auctions’ website at www.excaliburauctions.com

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