Star Wars: That Time Grand Moff Tarkin Blew Up Alderaan While Wearing Slippers
Peter Cushing, unable to wear the unbearably small stock boots, chose to wear "carpet slippers" during the filming of Star Wars.
Almost as legendary as the saga itself are the behind-the-scenes stories of Star Wars. From Chewbacca speaking English during filming to the original villain of Return of the Jedi, the making of the Original Trilogy is a treasure trove of nerdy tidbits. Have you heard the one about the huge story leak that almost spoiled The Empire Strikes Back‘s biggest twist?
Then there’s the one about the late, great Peter Cushing and his time as Grand Moff Tarkin in A New Hope. We all remember this Hammer horror legend as the man holding Darth Vader’s leash on the Death Star as well as the mass murderer who ordered the destruction of Alderaan in one of the film’s most shocking sequences. But did you know Tarkin blew up Princess Leia’s homeworld while wearing slippers?
Indeed, Cushing, unable to wear the boots provided to him for the film, stalked around in slippers in all of the shots that didn’t show his feet. According to Cushing in an old interview (via Eyes on Cinema), which you can watch below, the costume department wasn’t prepared for the actor’s “big feet” and didn’t have time to make bigger boots for him. Instead, Cushing was forced to wear the ill-fitting boots in several scenes. As the story goes, the actor begged Lucas to shoot him from the waist up as much as possible so that he could enjoy the comfort of his “carpet slippers.”
To hear Cushing describe what dressing up as Tarkin was like is a real treat. It’s clear from the interview that Cushing, like many of his other fellow actors, enjoyed poking fun at George Lucas’ strange space fantasy, which was at one time more likely ridiculed than worshipped.
“I was dressed rather like an Edwardian chauffer,” said Cushing in the interview, with “tight-fitting” boots. “Incidentally, I often wonder what a ‘Grand Moff’ is. Sounds like something that came out of a clothes closet.”
Cushing continued: “They hadn’t got time to have my boots made for me, which is usually the case because of my large feet, so I had to do with a pair out of stock. There I was on the first day of shooting, [as] this very cross, unpleasant gentleman, Grand Moff Tarkin, stomping around and it was agony, it really was. So the next day, I say to dear George Lucas, the director, ‘George, I’m not asking for close-ups, but do you think you could shoot me from the waist up from now on?'”
Lucas agreed and introduced the legendary slippers to Tarkin’s costume.
“So for the rest of the film, I stomped around looking extremely angry and very cross with that dear little Carrie Fisher as Grand Moff Tarkin in carpet slippers.”
We can only assume Tarkin was wearing Crocs when he blew up Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic in Rogue One.
The Grand Moff is now the stuff of legend, of course, one of those villains we absolutely love to hate, and it’s a real shame he didn’t get off that Death Star when he had the chance. Perhaps he was too lazy to slip back into his boots?
John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek US. Find more of his work on his website. Or just follow him on Twitter.