Victor Botha: From soldier to Star Wars trooper

2016-12-18 10:00

Johannesburg - You may not see his face but Victor Botha’s cameo role in the acclaimed Star Wars movie stands out from the other minor parts.

He left South Africa after finishing high school in Ficksburg in 2001 with a dream to make it big one day. After living in the UK for 16 years and serving in the British army for 12, he finally secured a role in the Star Wars movie and found himself working alongside big actors such as Forest Whitaker and Alan Tudyk.

He plays the role of a Death Trooper – an elite variant of the Galactic Empire’s storm trooper that was a part of the Empire’s Imperial Intelligence which focused on the navy.

“When I left the army I decided to join an agency for ex-forces. They specialise in getting roles for ex-forces in movies where they require military experience.

“I got a call asking if I want to go for this open audition. They were not allowed to tell us what movie it was, because it was all top secret. I was just told to go to Pinewood Studios at this day and time.

“When I arrived there it was obvious that this was not just any movie. There was Star Wars costumes, props and all sorts of strange things there,” said Botha.

He said the director wanted to see the participants in the costume, which took about an hour to get on. They had to run and go down into firing positions to make sure they “look all natural in the costumes” made of very thick plastic black suits of armour.

“About two days later, I got the call saying I was one of the six who was picked (from 20 people who auditioned) to play the role. I have never seen a Star Wars movie or been on a movie set before this so didn’t know what to expect,” he said.

Botha said he did not anticipate the level of hard work required to just make a two-minute take in the move. It took them about four hours to shoot, and “it was boiling hot in those costumes,” he said.

“It was hard work, but I would do anything to be in that movie and this part because this character hasn’t been in any other Star Wars movie,” he said.

He added that he was surprised that it all came naturally because there was a lot of formation and drills in the army which were required in the movie.

“We had to follow orders and do a lot of battle scenes against other forces and the battle scenes were shot over a period of two weeks at a time ... for a normal person doing that same thing over and over again would be hard work, but for me it just came natural, it was what I trained for,” he said.

Botha admitted that he was star struck and had to constantly tell himself to “look natural and don’t stare”.

“At least I had a mask on so I could stare without them knowing,” he said.

(Photo: Supplied by City Press)

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