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Marjorie Eaton - The Original Emperor

Discussion in 'Classic Trilogy' started by SlashMan, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2012
    As iconic as McDiarmid's Emperor was, there was something very unsettling, and frankly scary about the original Emperor. A lot was about the mystery; Clive Revill did the voice, but for three decades, the actor was only known as an unknown woman with heavy prosthetics and superimposed chimpanzee eyes.

    [​IMG]
    It looked like we got an answer in The Making of The Empire Strikes back by J.W. Rinzler; Elaine Baker was named as the mystery actor. This however, turned out to be the result of faulty research. The book almost got it right; it made a brief mention of veteran actor Marjorie Eaton testing for the role, but ultimately being switched out with Baker.

    As it turns out, no one can back up the book's account... including Rick Baker. Though Baker, Jon Berg, and Jim Bloom have debunked the myth and correctly identified Eaton. This information has come to light thanks to Don Bies.

    So as it turns out, this is the face of the Emperor:
    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, Eaton passed away in 1986. She had already had a long career in film before being cast as the Emperor at the age of 79. In comparison to the young Elaine Baker, it's very easy to see Eaton's features, even beneath the makeup.
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0247856/
     
  2. thejeditraitor

    thejeditraitor Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 19, 2003
    is this proven?
     
  3. Hogarth Wrightson

    Hogarth Wrightson Jedi Knight star 4

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    Jul 2, 2015
    Wow! Outstanding! A decades-long mystery... solved! =D=
     
  4. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Rick Baker, Jon Berg, and Jim Bloom have all confirmed this. The following quote by Jim Bloom really puts an end to it:
    I'm more inclined to believe three important crew members who were there in person.

    Here's a picture posted by Don Bies. Eaton on the top vs. Baker on the bottom.
    [​IMG]
    Without a doubt, its clear the Emperor was played by an older woman, even with makeup. What I'm confused about is how Elaine Baker got thrown into the story, and how that myth wound up in the official 'Making of' book.
     
  5. Hogarth Wrightson

    Hogarth Wrightson Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 2, 2015
    I'm curious what Elaine Baker is doing in the Regan MacNeil/Exorcist make-up (above pic, bottom right). I know Rick Baker worked under Dick Smith on that film, but it was a stunt actress named Eileen Dietz who doubled for Linda Blair as Regan, not Elaine Baker! Very interesting set of pics, there.
     
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  6. SateleNovelist11

    SateleNovelist11 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jan 10, 2015

    Scared me as a kid.
     
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  7. Hogarth Wrightson

    Hogarth Wrightson Jedi Knight star 4

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    Jul 2, 2015
    Her mustache scares me as an adult.
     
  8. SateleNovelist11

    SateleNovelist11 Force Ghost star 6

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    Jan 10, 2015
    I'm glad we have electrolysis now. ;)
     
  9. Obi-John Kenobi

    Obi-John Kenobi Jedi Master star 3

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    Oct 30, 2012
    I always wondered why they chose to slap a half hearted prosthetic on an elderly actress instead of just casting the right actor. They had to know they'd be using the Emperor in the next movie. That's one of the things that used to drive me crazy as a kid. This Emperor looks & sounds nothing like the "real" one. I was so relieved when Ian got put in the SE.
     
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  10. Hogarth Wrightson

    Hogarth Wrightson Jedi Knight star 4

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    Jul 2, 2015
    Those of us who saw ESB first had the opposite reaction. I initially was disappointed that McDiarmid's Emperor looked/sounded nothing like the "real" one we saw in the previous film. Naturally, Ian's scenery-chewing performance grew on me.
     
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  11. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2012
    It is interesting that they chose a woman for the role originally. I guess they really wanted the Emperor to appear weak and vulnerable by using a slender old lady. The same way Luke underestimates Palpatine in Revenge of the Jedi as a defenseless old man. Lucas really stressed the power of the force over physical abilities at this point in the saga. In this state, Palpatine is easily comparable as the antithesis of Yoda:
    [​IMG]
    What I'd really want to know is the the specific reason for all the changes going into Jedi. The physical appearance is actually pretty much consistent when you look at it. Orange sunken eyes, the rift in the forehead, etc. The ESB makeup looks a bit rougher since it wasn't intended to be seen without the hologram effects and lighting. The prosthetic was tan-ish, but you can see in the finished film they managed to get it to a pale yellow-ish tone.

    I assume they intended to have the Emperor only make a few more occasional appearances at this point in the saga, which would suit the elderly Eaton. When plans were scrapped, and the Emperor became a major character by the next film, I'm guessing they decided to get one actor to do it all. Besides, with the Emperor moving around so much, the monkey eyes effect would be impossible to pull off.
     
  12. Admiral Volshe

    Admiral Volshe Force Ghost star 10

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012

    I was definitely confused by the change, but the chimpanzee eyes creeped me out so I was fine with it in the end.
     
  13. lovelikewinter

    lovelikewinter Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    May 28, 2014
    The Eaton Emperor looks a hell of a lot more like the ROTJ Emperor than the ROTS/SE Emperor did.
     
  14. PymParticles

    PymParticles Cruel but Fair Tyrant of New Films star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Oct 1, 2014
    This is something that absolutely baffles me. It never bothered me as a kid that the Emperor looks different; they look close enough that you can presume that things changed behind the scenes between films, and the overall portrayal is pretty consistent, too. SE Emperor, however, looks like RotS Emperor (which makes no sense given the time frame and how he appears in the next movie), and RotS Emperor looks like... I don't even know what. It just bugs the hell out of me, because it's a completely unnecessary change that's actually less effective than the original version of the scene.
     
  15. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    The ROTS Emperor doesn't look as good as the ROTJ Emperor imo but its 20 some odd years before ROTJ, some change is expected imo.
    ROTS Emperor during ESB? No. Just no.
     
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  16. DARTHLINK

    DARTHLINK Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 24, 2005
    I always wondered who they hired to play the Emperor in TESB. Guess we know the answer now. :D
     
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  17. JEDI-RISING

    JEDI-RISING Chosen One star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 15, 2005
    they did like a combination of her, makeup and chimpanzee's eyes superimposed on her supposedly. i don't think it looks so much different, and i was young enough when i saw ROTJ it didn't make a difference to me.
     
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  18. The_Phantom_Calamari

    The_Phantom_Calamari Force Ghost star 4

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    Nov 10, 2011

    LOL. Okay. A woman with chimp eyes superimposed over her face looks more like Ian McDiarmid in makeup than Ian McDiarmid in makeup. Gotcha.
     
  19. Darth Palpadious

    Darth Palpadious Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    May 31, 2013
    I loved Clive Revill's voice and found the look of that version of the Emperor very frightening. To be honest, I think it was actually a little too frightening for my 7-year-old self with those mad eyes and the weird uncanny valley quality.

    Ian McDiarmid is the Emperor through and through but I would happily have left the Eaton/Revill Emperor in ESB, it's a great interpretation.
     
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  20. Force Smuggler

    Force Smuggler Force Ghost star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 2, 2012
    The 04 ESB Emperor scene has an Emperor that looks more like ROTS Emperor than the ROTJ Emperor. Considering that ROTJ is closer to ESB than ROTS is, isn't that a problem?
     
  21. oierem

    oierem Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2009
    The thing is... different make-up or not, it's the same guy playing the Emperor! You can't objectively say that Ian McDiarmid looks less than Ian McDiarmid and more like a different actress/chimpanzee.
    Yes, the make-up is a bit different, but even still, it's much closer to the ROTJ Emperor than a totally different face with a totally different voice.
    Besides, the problem isn't there if you're watching the Saga in chronological order: when you watch Empire your last reference of the Emperor is Revenge of the Sith. And he looks exactly like in that movie, so it doesn't "take you out of the movie".
    When you get to Return of the Jedi, yes, he looks SLIGHTLY different, but it's the same characters, the same acting, and during the first scenes you don't even see his face! I don't think it's so distracting, in reality.
    It's one of those things that can drive you mad when you over-analyze it out of context, but that doesn't really affect the experience.
     
  22. The_Phantom_Calamari

    The_Phantom_Calamari Force Ghost star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 10, 2011

    So, according to you, the average audience member's response in both cases:

    [​IMG]

    "Hmm, yeah. Definitely the same dude. Same exact voice even. I see no problems here. Nothing here is taking me out of the movie."

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    "What the hell? Wh-wh....? What's going on here? Are these even supposed to be the same character? I'm so confused. Nothing makes sense anymore. I can't live like this, I just can't!" *sound of gunshot going off*
     
  23. wmu'14

    wmu'14 Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Sep 8, 2012
    I think people aren't used to the hood revealing much of his face in the 2004 DVD release, as it's hidden in most other scenes he's in Episodes 1-VI.
     
  24. SlashMan

    SlashMan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2012
    I actually applaud the effort with the 2004 Emperor, but there are some minor changes that could've been done to make it even better.

    The most mentioned is the appearance simply being that of the ROTS Emperor. Granted, they are extremely close, but with the skill of the makeup artists we're dealing with here, it could've been spot on to the '83 look with some minor tweaks (the cheeks sag a bit more). I think what makes makes it not sit right with those who don't like the change is the lighting. The original was extremely dim and only lit up parts of the face. The 2004 version shows us a little too much with lighting that covers Palpatine's entire face. Even the neck area is clearly lit up, where it was black before.

    Finally, something that hasn't been brought up is that Palpatine is now looking straight at Vader, whereas before, he was looking down at him. Small details like that mean a lot in context.

    Also, it amazes me that this has been documented, but the chimp who lent his eyes to the Emperor has been photographed in the act:
    [​IMG]
    Kinda funny to think the whole idea behind "Sith eyes" actually started with a monkey.
     
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  25. miasma

    miasma Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 29, 2013
    I remember not liking the "new" Emperor when I first saw ROTJ on its opening day. I thought the original Emperor sounded menacing, authoritative, and looked downright creepy. Then, ROTJ came out, and all of that was replaced by a cackling old man that I couldn't take seriously (well, not until he unleashed the lightening on Luke!)
     
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