Playing Star Wars is, for true fans, something best done alone.
Whether you're a kid at home after school, making high-pitched laser noises, or a 30-year-old in your parents' bathroom, making low-pitched noises to the golden-bikinied image of Princess Leia, it's a deeply personal experience.
Actor Charlie Ross has been doing it alone for four years—on stage. The high-octane actor has honed his intergalactic childhood passion into the just-off Times Square, off-Broadway smash One-Man Star Wars Trilogy. Zooming back and forth across the stage with the swiftness of the Millennium Falcon, Ross "performs" all the necessary dialogue, sound and music for all three films—one guy, exuding the energy of a coked-up Ewok.
Much like Luke Skywalker, Ross grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere (British Columbia), and has harnessed power from within to create his newfound success, which includes another infamous turn, his One-Man Lord of the Rings. But it's with Star Wars that Ross makes his first stop in Portland on Tuesday, May 2.
Ross consented to a fanboy-to-fanboy interview and trivia quiz with WW in between shows in Minnesota. Though a cold inhibited his Chewbacca scream and his Liberace-tinged C-3PO, he rose to the occasion, proving that he's not exploiting nerdery. He's saluting it.
WW: Trivia Question #1:
What is the first line spoken in any Star Wars film?
Charlie Ross: [Instantly] "Did you hear that? They've shut down the main reactors."
Correct! How did you decide what lines to cut and what to keep for the show?
I went from my memory. I imagined myself trying to tell the story to a group of people who had never seen [the movies] before. I don't have a lot of Ewoks.
Trivia question #2: How many years did Yoda train?
I haven't the foggiest clue. Is this from the original films? Oh...how many years did he train Jedi? "For 800 years have I trained Jedi!" My Yoda voice is actually terrible.
Trivia question #3: Who was the first character to say "I have a bad feeling about this" in Return of the Jedi?
[Long pause] I guess it was C-3PO.
Which character do you identify with?
The Emperor. He's so wonderfully bad—I don't mean a bad actor—but he gives [me] so much to work with. I always wanted to see the villain win...the Emperor didn't win, but he really did well. He was a big gloater. Can you imagine what the Emperor would be like if he were a soccer dad? He'd gloat over the team: [in the eerily seductive voice of Emperor Palpatine] "You have done most well, my young apprentices."
Trivia question #4: What were the Emperor's last words?
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" [chuckles] It's: "Now, young Skywalker, you will die." I don't know how the hell I remember this. If I were doing any other job—if I was working in a place where I had to memorize manuals and protocols and shit, I couldn't do it. But since it's Star Wars, it's a pleasure.
, Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, 248-4355. 8 pm Tuesday-Friday, 6:30 and 9 pm Saturday-Sunday. Closes May 6. $20-$30.