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Interview with Andreas Petrides - Obi-Wan's Stunt Double for Episode I

TheForce.net's Joshua Griffin got a chance to speak to one of the men behind the stunt's of Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Phantom Menace. Read on for his thoughts on the prequels, and reliving fun experiences of the past and why he isn't in Episode II.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I've been in the entertainment business since a young age starting as an acrobat in the circus to being a professional breakdancer travelling Europe. I have been a professional stunt man for 13 years. I have worked on many productions all over the world. I was born in the UK, my mother is English and my father is Greek Cypriot. I have an older brother and a younger sister and I currently live just outside London.

How did you get into stunt work?
I always wanted to be stunt man in the movies from - well before I can remember. To become a stunt man in the UK you have to join the British Stunt Register. First I had to obtain the Equity union card which to get I needed to have forty weeks professional experience (which the circus and break dancing gave me) also I needed to be at county competitive level in six disciplines (sports), ie, gymnastics, fencing, martial arts, motorcycle racing, sky diving.Once I had the skills and union card I applied and was accepted onto the Stunt Register as a probationary (trainee) member where I had to learn the job through training seminars and on set experience. One things for sure in this business you never stop learning!

What is the most interesting film you have ever worked on and why?
I have worked on many productions which are interesting in different ways so I do not feel any one film stands out, what Is interesting is creating stunt and fight Sequences from different times like the past (Gladiator) to a possible future (Star Wars).

What were the differences between Gladiator and Episode 1?
Gladiator was a much bigger scale battle film so as a Fight Arranger, aiding my colleague Nick Powell, together we had to train the artists involved, 50 stunt men and 500 extras various fight sequences throughout the movie unlike Episode One I had to choreograph fights which were only to be taught to a few actors . But in Episode 1 stunt doubling Obi Wan was a much more involved job than doubling Commodus in Gladiator. Teaching Russell Crowe to fight was amusing though!

5. Were you involved in Episode 2 and are you interested in Episode 3?
No, sadly due to politics I was not in Episode 2. I was told an outline of the story in Episode 3 and as a Fight Arranger it would be a good project to work on but I don't think I'll be involved in it. I'm glad to hear that they appear to have used my suggestion of a 'two lightsaber' fight in Episode II though!

Can you explain your Starwars experience?
It was very exciting to be given the opportunity to work on Star Wars which I loved as a child. I enjoyed working with Ray Park, we worked well together and it was great to choreograph the fights and do stunts on such a cult movie, and you can imagine we had fun while shooting the movie. However it was extremely disappointing not be given the Fight Arranger /Swordmaster credit I was originally employed for.

Have you always been a fan?
Yes - as a child I was inspired by the Starwars trilogy, particularly the Jedi characters. I would dress up and play light sabre fights with my friends.

What countries did you visit during location shooting?
When shooting Episode 1 we shot most of the film at Leavesden Studios, England. I went to Tunisia to shot all the desert sequences. In Gladiator we shot the opening sequence in Farnham, England, then I went to Morocco and then Malta for all the Colosseum sequences.

What stunt are you most proud of in Episode 1?
Well I don't have a particular favourite stunt - I like it if an idea for a stunt is tricky.So if I make it go exactly as planned im a happy man.One stunts in Ep 1 like this was when OBi Wan and Maul clash light sabres and Maul uses the force shooting OBi Wan backwards down the generator core shaft.To do this I had to stand on an air-ram which is a nitrogen propellant system which shot me backwards about 15 feet then I slid on my back rolling backwards over the lip falling into a stunt boxrig 10 feet below which went exactly to plan..

Any funny moments you can recall from the set?
There were many I recall on numerous occasions our light sabres would always bend in half due to clashing them together rather abruptly several hundred times we would try to continue a fight with a weapon more like a boomerang than a light sabre. I'm not the tallest of guys at just under 5'8" so trying to do all the stunts in boots with 4 inch lifts doubling Ewan was a challenge, as you can imagine.

What are you doing currently?
At present I'm working on various productions - I've just finished Dido/Faithless new video - I had to teach Dido various fight moves which was fun.

What can fans expect to see at the Movie Fight Xperience?
What MFX will give the fans is a show involving fights never seen before in the style of five movies myself and Ray have worked on. The climatic fight being that of Star Wars which I'm sure the fans will love - I'll say no more!!

What future films/projects are you working on?
To be honest I've had to change my set-up and drop projects due to putting time into MFX we want the show to be great so it is our priority at the moment. As for the future who knows!!

Thanks and I hope I'll see you at the MFX!!

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