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Ronny Cush – A true Jedi

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Sunday, July 01, 2018

IN the climactic battle in Return of The Jedi, the Galactic Empire and Rebel Alliance's aerial forces go at it in one of the epic movie's memorable scenes. One of the Alliance's pilots was Grizz Fitz, played by Jamaican Ronny Cush.

The St Mary-born actor's part in the film (he is killed) is less than one minute. He takes pride, however, that he had a role in one of the most lucrative franchises in film history.

Return of The Jedi celebrated its 35th anniversary in May with the release of memorabilia and a reunion of main cast members. The movie, with a screenplay co-written by George Lucas, had a production budget of US$32.5 million, and made a resounding US$475.1 million at the box office.

Cush, who is from the town of Annotto Bay, was a journeyman actor living in the United Kingdom where Return of The Jedi was filmed. He had appeared in the Thames Television series, The Bill, and several theatre productions across the country.

In 1982, he got a call from his agent who pitched him the potential role of Grizz Fitz.

“My agent said this guy name George Lucas is doing a film, here's the address and date. Just show up,” Cush recalled. “I didn't even audition because in England once you established a body of work and people know what you can do, they call and ask if you want this part or say they have a part for you.”

He had little knowledge of Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back, the previous films in the Lucas series which starred Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia and Billy Dee Williams in the role of Lando Calrrisian. Their nemesis was the sinister Darth Vader, a leader of the Galactic Empire.

Filming took place mainly at Elstree Studios in England. Having spent his career on small stages, Cush was struck by the “huge set with green screens” and the buzz of a major budget production.

“We did quite a bit of shooting but my role was significantly reduced in editing, which is not strange,” he said.

Cush never saw Return of The Jedi when it was released in May 1983, and has only watched it on television.

“At the time it was just another day's work, but as time went on I realise what a blockbuster it is,” he said.

The lanky Cush has called South Florida home for the past 30 years. He has acted in series for the Latin-owned Telemundo and Univision networks, but works as a videographer producing music videos for artistes and commercials for Jamaican businesses in the city of Lauderhill.

His second book, African Roots: Abridged Black History, was released last year.