Hello fellow Geeks-
Unfortunately, I have sad news. Drewe Henley, the gentleman who played Garven Dreis, aka Red Leader, passed away last month.
Now, sure, you might be saying “Oh…ok…never knew his name, but yeah…uh…bummer?” Which is understandable. Red Leader was probably the most widely known role he played, as he was primarily a British Television actor. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything else he’s been in, but still, it matters to me. He’s the man behind one of my favorite underdog Star Wars characters.
I mean, c’mon, he’s in charge of Red Squadron! The dude who commands Wedge, Biggs, and Porkins, as well as being entrusted to save the entire Rebel Alliance, had to have been a bad ass. I always used to imagine how the remnants of the Yavin fighter squadrons scrambled to rebuild at the loss of both Garven and Dutch (Gold Leader, though some claim his name is “Hutch”). The intricacy of the art on his helmet and astromech droid also made me wonder if his character had done something exceptionally brave or dangerous to earn something so unique.
Speaking of droids, he’s got the coolest astromech droid ever. R2-D2 is pretty cool, but checkout R5-K6!
If you look closely in the film, you can see him peeping out from behind Red Leader’s head, but this production still shows him in all his glory.
They made an action figure out of him, though, good luck finding him for less that $50…
Sigh…maybe one day. In lieu of having the action figure, my lovely girlfriend made me an awesome pillow, which I’m sure was unpleasant to make (look at all those individual panels to stitch). But, after all the hard work, is pretty much the best pillow ever.
Have you guys ever heard of Nina Kinert? yeah, probably not. She’s a Swedish singer/musician and I stumbled across her jams back in the Grooveshark days. Yeah…Grooveshark was the shit…anyway, this is her getting excited about a new album.
Anyway, She’s great and has this album entitled “Red Leader Dream.” When she was younger, she had a very intensive operation on her spine and spent a ton of time in the hospital. As a consequence, she watched Star Wars over and over again. Fast forward to her adulthood and musical career, Red Leader Dream takes the impact Star Wars made on her and mixes it with her distinctive folk/whimsical style. She describes it as her version of Episode VII (before it was even announced, mind you).
It’s a little “out-there” but I think it’s pretty awesome, regardless. She’s definitely got a set of pipes on her. There’s a particular jam, Tiger You, (yeah, the link says Moonwalker, but trust me, it’s Tiger You) that I’m way into. If Nina Kinert, Lana Del Rey, and Taylor Swift came to my birthday, I think I would perish and immediately die. But, you know, in a good way.
So that was a bit of a tangent, but I think it’s relevant. She chose to name her album after Drewe Henley’s character, which goes to show he made an impact on her. Personally, it made me go back and revisit his character, imagining more to his character. Did he have a wife? Children? How did he become such a grizzled veteran, yet still end up with the Rebellion? How did he know Anakin Skywalker? Listening to her music while creating a narrative about him in my head really made me appreciate the character.
Whenever I hear about any of these older actors passing, I always feel a twinge of regret. I know a lot about most of the Rebel pilots and how these characters influenced enough people to expand their backstories and adventures through comics, novels, game, and the rest of the (now Disney decommissioned) Expanded Universe. Though, I wonder if the actual men who played the characters are/were aware. I have most of their likenesses sitting on the top level of my “shelf” you’ve all seen if you watch any of my X-Wing videos, but I ultimately know very little about them.
Mr, Henley, I hope you all know the impact you made on a child who never fully grew out of his imagination. Thank you for being you.
Here is his IMDB
Here is the Wookieepedia entry for his character