Dickie Beer has been in a lot of movies that you have seen, only you probably don’t recognize him. He is a near legendary stuntman that has performed in some of the biggest series in movie history, most notably in the last two Indiana Jones movies and the Return of the Jedi. The most recognizable of his role was as the stunt double for Boba Fett, but he has been in many other films including several James Bond, Total Recall and the second Transformers movie.
The question period started out with some technical difficulties with the microphone, so Dickie told a story while people waited.
Dickie Beer: While we figure out these technical problems, I can tell a funny anecdote. One day my daughter came home from school, and I could see that she is very excited. She almost screamed to me “I didn’t know that you are so famous! You are Boba Fett!” And I asked “Who is that?” because I played so many characters in the Star Wars movies and forgot who they all were. [microphone is fixed]
Question From the Floor: What is the most dangerous stunt that you have done?
DB: When I was filming Return of the Jedi I was playing a Gamorrean guard. We were filming in the Yuma Desert, which was very hot, and the costume was so hot and so heavy that I had to take it off every few minutes just to breathe and so that I would not overheat. At one point there was a scene where Carrie Fisher had to knock me down, and every time that I fell down I needed three people to help me back up, because the suit was too cumbersome to stand up on my own. During one scene, they called for lunch, and the three people that were supposed to pick me up ran off to lunch without remembering that I had fallen. When everyone got to the food hall, Carrie noticed that I was not there and she ran back to help me up. It might sound funny compared to other dangerous stunts, but when she came back, it really saved my life.
QFF: What is your favourite Star Wars movie?
DB: It may sound funny but I don’t like watching movies all that much. I don’t enjoy them as much because I don’t look at a movie as a story being told, I look at it as a job. I am the worst movie watcher ever because I always see where people make mistakes or when they have done something wrong. So I am afraid that I haven’t seen any of them all the way through. Don’t tell anybody.
QFF: Do you have any directors over the course of your career that were easier to work with or harder to work with?
DB: There are always good people and bad people and I prefer to talk about the good people. There are three actors that I like to work with – Harrison Ford, Angelina Jolie and Geena Davis. They are my three favourite actors because of who they are. They don’t behave like stars, they treat you like a human being, with respect. You treat people how you want to be treated and they are these kind of people. I like to work with some directors, my favourite is Spielberg. I like the way that Spielberg operates. One of the things that I learned from Stephen Spielberg is to not ask him what is next because he will say “you have the call sheet, you have the script, and that’s about it. That should be enough information so don’t come to me asking what is next because you should know if you’ve done your homework.” He has always been good to me and what I like about him is that he remembers each and everyone’s name, and I am very bad at names.
QFF: What do you think about the new Star Wars movies?
DB: I haven’t seen them (laughs). You mean the new ones coming out? I hear all kinds of stories, but I don’t know. Lucas is still involved but it is not produced by Lucas anymore it is Disney.
QFF: Have you heard anything about them?
DB: The only thing that I know is that Harrison is in it, Mark Hamill is in it, Carrie Fisher is in it, Peter Mayhew is in it and C3P-0, Anthony Daniels.
QFF: What is the biggest freefall that you have done?
DB: The highest one was 150 feet, and I didn’t know that it was 150. It was for a movie called Double Impact, with Jean-Claude Van Damme which was shot in Hong Kong. There was a fall off of one of the cranes which picks up the containers off of the ships. I estimated that it was around 110. We set the air bag up and got everything set and then at night we had to shoot it. What happened was that there were two lights, really bright lights, to the side of the air bag which were shining straight up into my face. I looked down and couldn’t see the air bag because of the light were blinding me. I asked the director “Do we need those lights?” and he said “Of course we need them otherwise I can’t see you.” So I said “OK, can you turn them off for a split second to let me get in my position. You say action and then I will do the fall.” They turned off the lights and I spotted the air bag so I knew where it was and I knew exactly what I had to do. Then I told them to turn the lights back on and when they turned them on I closed my eyes and kept them shut until they said action. I did the fall with my eyes closed and counted off two seconds and knew that I should be through the beam of light. That is when I opened my eyes Because my eyes were closed I had pushed off too hard and I went over the center of the airbag, which is the ideal place to hit the air bag. What happens when you are too far forward is that the back side is shot into the air, and I was thrown off into the ground
QFF: Have you ever looked at a stunt and said “this one is not for me”?
DB: Not really because when it comes to doing something that looks like it is impossible, I always say “nothing is impossible as long as you give me enough time and money to figure it out.” I always say that I can do it, but that it will cost a certain amount and will take a certain amount of time, and if they are willing to pay for that, then I can make it happen. So far I have never said no, but other have turned me down and said that it is too expensive. I figured out a system where I can crash an airplane for real and walk away from it but nobody has come up with the money to do it yet.
QFF: Have you ever been injured in a stunt?
DB: The only injuries that I have had is a torn ligament in my collarbone and a twisted ankle. That’s it.
QFF: Were you involved with the bridge scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?
DB: Yes, I was one of the idiots that fall off of there. Actually, remember when they end up against the wall when they are climbing the broken bridge? Every time that you see someone fall it was me, because I was the only one for some reason that was capable of staying close to the actors instead of … when falling you travel both out and down.
QFF: Harrison was there too?
DB: Yes, he was there hanging on, and so was the actor that played the bad guy. If Harrison was not an actor, he would be a stuntman. The stunt coordinator sometimes had to tell Harrison not to take part in stunts because they were too dangerous or too tricky for him.
QFF: What is the stunt that took the longest preparation on your part?
DB: The longest that I had was about two to three months. A lot of rehearsals. A lot of crashing of cars to get that it was going to happen the right way. That was for Terminator 3. That scene where the crane is operated by the T-X. That took months and months of rehearsals and trying thing out.
QFF: How many movies have you made?
DB: On IMDB I have about 110 listed, but in reality I have done about 150. Some of the movies that were on IMDB, I had to take them off because they were so bad and I didn’t want my name associated with them.