Barrie Holland: Giving that bit extra
PUBLISHED: 15:18 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:55 20 February 2013
Movie stalwart Barrie Holland has spent the last three decades working with Hollywood's finest. Here he talks to Lucy Dixon
WHEN Barrie Holland landed a part in the 1989 Batman film, alongside Michael Keaton, he didn't have far to travel to work. The interior scenes were shot at Hatfield House, just a few steps away from Barrie's home in Old Hatfield. Originally from Luton, the actor has lived in this beautiful home for 23 years now and loves having Hatfield House on his doorstep. 'I have access to the grounds all year round so I can take long walks whenever I want,' he says. 'I used to enjoy long walks in the winter snow there, and also went tobogganing with my children when they were young. It really is a beautiful estate.'
The name Barrie Holland might not be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the 70-year-old actor has been in many of the biggest films of the last 30 years, appearing with some of the leading names in the industry, from Harrison Ford and Warren Beatty to Mel Gibson and James Cagney.
Although he'd always had dreams of appearing on the big screen, Barrie seemed to have got into acting almost by accident. 'At the age of 23, I was working in the publicity department at Vauxhall in Luton,' he explains. 'I organised photo shoots, booking models and photographers, and found I got on really well with the creative people.' Barrie got to know some of London's leading model agencies and it was only a matter of time until he was signed up as a model himself. 'I loved clothes and fashion and knew how the industry worked, which was a definite advantage,' he chuckles.
Barrie has appeared in films with some of the leading names in the industry, including Harrison Ford, Warren Beatty, Mel Gibson and James Cagney
A successful modelling career led to auditions for film work and Barrie landed his first movie appearance in 1977, a small part in a scene on a yacht in The Greek Tycoon, an Anthony Quinn film. 'I got the job because I turned up for the audition looking the part,' says Barrie with a smile. 'And my wife, also a model, got a part too!' By this time Barrie was married and had started a family, and the film work took off, allowing him to support his son and two daughters.
In 1982 Barrie won a part that is, still, the one everyone wants to talk about. 'I got the role of Lieutenant Renz in Return of the Jedi, an Imperial Officer who arrests the rebel forces ruled by Han Solo and Princess Leia.' The scene may only last a few minutes but it took a day and a half of filming to perfect, which Barrie remembers
fondly. 'All the actors involved were wonderful. Harrison Ford is very quiet, but a lovely man. And Carrie Fisher is very nice too.' In this scene, Barrie delivers the line that has gained cult status: 'You rebel scum!' It was this line that was declared the best moment in the film by Empire magazine.
Star Wars continues to play a major part in Barrie's life. Last year he took part in the 30th anniversary celebrations for the film series. 'I've had the time of my life travelling for Star Wars,' says Barrie. 'The anniversary was amazing. I went to the big party in Los Angeles, and there was also a show in London.'
The adoration for Star Wars doesn't seem to be waning and Barrie is loving every minute of it. Along with other actors who had small parts in the films, Barrie is in big demand to attend the many Star Wars events around the world and has attended more than 32 fan shows in the last three years.
Now the anniversary celebrations have finished, Barrie can concentrate on his life in Old Hatfield. One of Barrie's recent projects has been to repaint his hallway, a room that offers visitors a glimpse of the Hollywood magic he has enjoyed during the last three decades. The walls are lined with framed pictures of Barrie's favourite actors, many complete with autographs, and acts as his own wall of fame. Alongside the shots of actors Barrie has worked with are portraits of the Hollywood legends who starred in the films he queued to watch as a teenager. 'I've always loved American films, especially Westerns, and used to go to the Wellington Cinema in Luton. It was pure cinema escapism. I did meet James Cagney,' adds Barrie. 'He was my father's favourite actor and I met him on the set of Ragtime in 1980. He even sent me a picture to give to my dad.' There's a shot of Barrie smiling next to Harrison Ford hanging in the hallway, with the inscription: 'Barrie, YOU REBEL SCUM! Harrison Ford'. It seems a strange jump, from the Vauxhall company in Luton to personal notes from Hollywood's finest. 'It's certainly been a strange life,' laughs Barrie, who has clearly loved every minute of it.