Since Disney+ launched first thing Tuesday, there’s been lots to talk about. The technical issues. The bad cropping of classic Simpsons episodes. The plethora of old, forgotten, thoroughly weird live-action Disney movies. But the biggest controversy so far is not Disney’s fault — it’s something they inherited: The version of Star Wars — aka A New Hope, aka the very first Star Wars movie that you should never call A New Hope — that streams on the service features a single second of never-before-seen footage, in which Greedo utters what sounds like “Maclunkey” before getting blasted by Han.
There’s actually a possible explanation for the word, a mystery potentially deciphered by one of the Internet’s many helpful nerds. But one person who was left mystified by the line, which was inserted a few years back by Gorge Lucas himself. That person is one Paul Blake, the actor who played Greedo (but who was not credited with the work).
Speaking to Empire, the actor — who was the one in the green lizard-y costume, but who did not record his dialogue, which was done by the late Larry Ward — confessed he had no idea what “Maclunkey” means, nor did he understand anything his character wound up saying in any cut. He did, however, have the original script laying around, and he explained how the scene as-shot, entirely in the English language, was quite different from the final cut.
My little bit in English was just a simple, straightforward cowboy scene. ‘Going somewhere? Give me the money. If you don’t give me the money, I’ll shoot you. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.’ That’s about it, as far as I can remember. I certainly don’t remember the word ‘Maclunkey’. Are you sure that’s not the noise he made when his very brittle green head hit the table? Or he was saying ‘ouch’ in Rodian just before he fired?
Blake also reveals that a lot of the Star Wars bit players and extras — who were profiled in the 2015 doc Elstree 1976 — still talk or at least text with each other, saying he learned about the “Maclunkey” mishegoss from Mike Carter, best known as Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi.
In any case, though his work went uncredited, his face unseen, Blake will go down in history as one of the most over-analyzed pieces of film this side of the Zapruder tape. On top of the “Maclunkey” business, the Disney+ version of Star Wars also has Greedo and Han shoot at the same time, not one after the other, which ought to keep the debate over this 42-year-old scene raging another 42 years.