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Star Wars’ unknown actors are celebrated in theaters next month

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The people behind the rubber masks and metal helmets

Elstree 1976, the documentary that tells the story of the unknown actors who played the original Star Wars' bit-part characters, now has a release date. The movie will be showing at US theaters from May 6th, two years after director Jon Spira wrapped up a successful Kickstarter to secure funding. A new trailer gives us a quick look at the story of 10 people who appeared on screen as stormtroopers, bounty hunters, Rebel pilots, and other background roles in 1977's A New Hope.

Many of these minor characters were originally little more than set dressings for Star Wars' galaxy far far away, but gained names, stories, and fans over time as the expanded universe grew, with books and comics telling of their exploits. Star Wars fans came to know masked characters like Boba Fett and Greedo as legendary figures, but as detailed in Elstree 1976's latest trailer, Lucas' sci-fi blockbuster also had a lasting impact on the people under the helmets and prosthetics — from their chance to work with generational talents like Alec Guinness, to their experience with adoring fans.

The movie talks to Greedo and the man under Darth Vader's armor

Not all of those interviewed had minor roles in the series, including David Prowse, whose six-foot-eight bulk filled out Darth Vader's suit. But even Prowse, who provided the menacing movements of film's most iconic villain, wouldn't be recognized on the street by all but the most ardent Star Wars fans — that's because in the final cut of the movie, his face and voice were replaced by Sebastian Shaw and James Earl Jones, respectively. Others got to work on what would become the biggest movie of all time, but saw their characters cut entirely from the finished film.

A preview screening of Elstree 1976 will take place, fittingly, at the London studio itself, on an actual sound stage used during the filming of Star Wars. In the US, the movie opens at select theaters in several cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York City next month. For the full list of theaters and ticket information, check distribution company Film Rise's site.