The Star Wars universe is full of questions about Rey's parents, Palpatine's responsibility for the birth of Anakin, and who shot first in the Mos Eisley Cantina, but one mystery still stands above all others: Just who in the heck played that blundering stormtrooper who bumped his head on the door in Episiode IV - A New Hope??? One YouTube documentary, titled The Empire Strikes Door, is looking to answer that question once and for all.
Helmed by Jamie Stangroom, the project came about from the director's penchant for tracking down and interviewing actors who played roles like Greedo, Oola, and even the dude who was hired to portray Jabba the Hutt's tail. Most of these performers spend a lot of time at Star Wars conventions (making them easier to find and talk to), but for some reason, the person behind the concussed stormtrooper was harder to unearth. On his quest to find the genuine article, Stangroom came into contact with several individuals clamoring for the coveted title.
"I was also surprised by how much the 'suspects' I met believed it was them," the filmmaker tells SYFY WIRE. "I'm sure there was a lot of head-banging going on, but these guys were adamant it happened to them in that particular scene ... to the point where I have two of them sitting on a hotel bed arguing about it. Of course, I'm having fun with it, but they are taking it all, understandably, so seriously."
First announced in 2017, the movie was described as an expansion of a short film from Stangroom that wasn't able to find a concrete answer to the central investigation. An Indiegogo campaign was launched, and more than two years later, the finished product will finally get to see the light of day next week.
Featuring interviews and testimonials from the likes of Kevin Smith, Chris Jericho, Greg Grunberg, Noel Gallagher (yes, of Oasis fame), Ahmed Best, and even the late producer of Empire Strikes Back, Gary Kurtz, the documentary also explores the unwieldy nature of the stormtrooper costumes that made it easy for actors wearing them to be more unaware of their surroundings.
"I went to the factory where they made the original outfits and got to wear one myself; I was surprised by how hard they are to see out of and even move around in," Stangroom explains. "You hear it all the time, but until you wear one, you can't appreciate how hard they must have been to perform in. I also spoke to some stormtroopers from the sequel trilogy, and it sounds like the newer outfits were no better, although they were given military training by someone from the British army. By all accounts the original guys got no training and barely had to audition."
In the end, it's up to the audience to decide who the real head-banging trooper was played by. Smith, Best, Grunberg, and Jericho help in that regard by serving as a panel of jurists. Stangroom reveals that all of them came to a unanimous decision, but wouldn't give up what it is.
"To be honest, I'm not sure that I really believed I could come close to solving this, I felt like it was resigned to being listed with the likes of Loch Ness Monster, the Yeti, and Bigfoot. But I now genuinely believe that the conclusion we've come to is the correct one," he concludes.
The Empire Strikes Door premieres on Strangroom's YouTube Channel next Wednesday, Sept. 25.