Harold “Howie” Weed (born December 23, 1962) is an Industrial Light & Magic artist and occasional actor in the Star Wars saga. He played multiple background characters (Ketwol, Melas) and the Wampa ice creature for the 1997 Special Editions.
Weed began his career in the early 1980s as a production assistant for TV with Smarkus and Company (1982). Not satisfied with production roles, he began working as a model maker for Steven Spielberg’s production Gremlins (1984), where he became a part of the creature crew. On that movie, he worked under special-effects artist Chris Walas (the alligator maker for the 1984 film Romancing the Stone).
Weed began working for Chris Walas Inc. for the next years as a special-effects technician; or “creature technician,” as sometimes called. Weed began his successful work as one of the creature technicians of Wolfgang Petersen’s science-fiction movie Enemy Mine (1985), and then with David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986), this time with Jon Berg and Don Bies.
Furthermore, Howie Weed autographs then started a successful collaboration with Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) with George Miller’s The Witches of Eastwick (1987). He then combined his work for both ILM and Watt. (Backwood; never a successful firm and did not continue in the movie business.)
In 1989, two different movies featuring Weed’s work debuted. Weed had worked as one of the creature sculptors for Chris Walas’ debut as a director, The Fly II. Also one of the character performers ILM used for another sequel, Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters II.
Sequels were easily Weed’s fodder for the early 1990s. He began working again in Walas’ crew for Irvin Kershner’s Robocop 2 (1990) and as animatronics engineer in Amy Heckerling’s Look Who’s Talking Too (1990). He also worked in animatronics for David Cronenberg and William S. Burroughs’s Naked Lunch (1991).
The year 1997 one of the most prolific for Weed. He worked as digital artist for Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (sequel of the 1993 success) and for Barry Sonnenfeld’s sci-fi comedy Men In Black as model maker (more specifically; for the “saucer crash” miniature and the blue-screen unit). He also began working on the Special Editions of the Star Wars original trilogy.
Weed, the chief creature maker for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi; creating the new monsters for both these films.
Weed, as Rick Baker before him, acted as some of his creations. Particularly, on A New Hope; he can be seen in the cantina as Ketwol, the elephant-like creature, and also as Melas; a Saurian smoker who looks remarkably like the back of Ketwol’s head. In fact, the same puppet used for both characters.
During The Empire Strikes Back, Weed chosen to be inside his own Wampa Ice Creature costume; so new scenes could be added. Because this role no longer required a tall actor, Des Webb not re-called. Thus, the “gory Wampa” in the Special Edition is mainly played by Weed.
Weed continued working for the saga with Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, working as a construction artist and digital model development artist for ILM, as a part of a greater team. He did not act again, not being a professional actor.
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