From Fandom to Phantom: When Star Wars Dreams Become Reality

Luke Skywalker in the wampa's cave

For those who don’t know me (probably almost everyone reading this except my Mum — hello Mum!), this is Christian J. Simpson reporting in. I am first and foremost a huge Star Wars fan, and it is from that perspective I am going to be writing a rather unique series of blogs, as I want to take you, my fellow fans, on an interesting little journey with me.

It’s now that I want to ask you a question. Since the age of seven after my father took me to see The Empire Strikes Back, I have always had Star Wars dreams. Have you?

Bear with me while I tell you about a few such dreams, as I believe you’ll find the payoff worth it. There’s method to my madness, just like Yoda after years alone on Dagobah. The first dream I can still remember must have been when I was still around 10. I was “in” the wampa’s lair on the ice planet Hoth. I could reach out and touch the icicles the imagery was so real.

And I quickly had to find a way to use the Force to pull my lightsaber hilt out of the packed snow. I must assume that I managed, because I lived to write this. But I considered that because Star Wars injects itself so deeply into our subconscious mind and our id, that this may be why Star Wars dreams are that much more vivid than regular earthbound ones. Because the dreams stem from a different part of the mind, or soul.

In one particularly vivid dream in the late ’90s, I received an imaginary phone call here on Earth from a lovely lady who called herself Laura, I think, and who offered me a ticket and a transport to a planet called Naboo. Then I was there! On Naboo. And this time I wasn’t in an ice lair, I was a starfighter pilot! Can you imagine the feeling? Warmer, for a start. Well that’s the journey I want to take you on, fan to fan. As I donned what was suddenly a pilot’s uniform, and buckled up, it was time to assist the beautiful Queen fight off attackers, and before I knew it I was running to my gleaming silver and yellow starfighter, explosions rocking the hanger floor, Artoo units dropping at my feet, and laser blasts hitting my sturdy pilot’s hat. My own astromech was the very yellow R2-C4, and covering me, he led me to my ship. I ran up the ladder, he buzzed up behind me in the ship, I jumped in narrowly avoiding another blaster hit, swiped the canopy back, hit the cockpit switches like second nature, and prepared for to take off into battle!

Naboo from Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

Then I woke up. It was over. Agh. I was back home, and I had no idea what would happen next. Until a year later, when I had another vivid dream. I was in the midst of the battle itself! That was a slow takeoff! But whatever. I was heading for the enemy Neimoidian ship! None of Bravo squadron could penetrate the ship’s shields, but in my dream, I had a unique idea. I headed for the main shield reactor, and pelted the same spot with my N-1’s ion cannons. It worked! As the shields dropped, I saw another N-1 fly into the enemy ship’s hangar bay doors, then shortly afterwards fly out again as the enemy craft began to blow up from the inside. Then in a flash we had already landed, though it was a different week (such is the strange way dreams work), and we crowded round that ship. Out came a small boy, who we learned was Anakin Skywalker, and somehow through the Force he had sensed my dropping the shields, seen the opportunity and done what was needed. In another dreamy flash I was standing at the steps of the Theed Palace, receiving the applause with my fellow pilots and dignitaries, from the thousands of Naboo citizens we had all saved. Even more surreal, in the crowd were friends of mine from Earth, like Mike, Dean, Dennis, Kes… Then randomly, given how the subconscious works, I was friends with Oola (Femi Taylor), Nalini Krishan, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch, and more! Such was our fame that in our dreams, some of us even made the cover of a magazine. Here’s a render of how mine looked in my imagination!

Star Wars: The Official Starships and Vehicles Collection #62

But suddenly my dream turned to a nightmare when I realized that the nine-year-old boy pilot had just killed hundreds of Neimoidians — enemies or not. And that this would start him on his journey down the path to the dark side, to become none other than the murderous Darth Vader himself. In my nightmares, I was thus partly responsible for creating Darth Vader! I woke up in a cold sweat, for once thankful that it was surely just a dream…

Now the plot thickens! Years passed before my next vivid Star Wars dream, but suddenly — such was the power of that nightmare combined with the power of the scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Luke goes into the cave on Dagobah, a place always strong with the dark side — that suddenly I was Darth Vader! In this dream, some lovely people called Kate, Ilenka, and Robert had in fact arranged for me to be a sort of understudy for Anakin Skywalker, as if in theater, to firsthand watch him — sometimes me — turn into Lord Vader in front of my very own eyes.

Anakin Skywalker with Sith eyes

Suddenly I was there on Mustafar…and in Emperor Palpatine’s office…and in Padmé’s apartment…watching it all go down, and interchanging with him. And it was all my fault that the little nine-year-old kid had become this twisted figure. I was being made to pay. If in my prior dream I hadn’t destroyed that shield, none of this would now be transpiring! As Vader began slaughtering Jedi younglings with a lightsaber that I had just handed to him in the dream — Luke’s very own lightsaber — I knew my nightmare soon had to be over. And in a flash, it was.

And the funny thing is, I started to miss those Star Wars nightmares of being right there in that galaxy…

In time the good Star Wars dreams returned. Peace was returned to the galaxy. Because we are hearing about yet more Star Wars films being made, again! Which I am sure will soon turn into many more Star Wars dreams for me and for us all.

But there’s one thing I haven’t told you. One small detail I omitted. Because in a way I still can’t quite believe it myself, even if I pinch myself. You see…none of the events since the 1990s were dreams. Not in the literal, sleepy sense. It all really happened.

So please allow me to introduce myself a little more. My name is Christian J. Simpson, a Star Wars follower and admirer who — on Earth — portrayed Lieutenant Gavyn Sykes (Bravo 6) in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace.

Christian J. Simpson in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace

I am so very proud that my character and likeness also featured in Star Wars: Galaxies, and Star Wars: Battle for Naboo, and in a few of the official magazines — including one of which Lucasfilm’s very own Leland Chee confirmed that Sykes is the canon reason Anakin was able to bypass the shields and destroy the enemy ship in Episode I.

I am, however, less proud that my character therefore allowed lil’ Anakin Skywalker to start down the path to the dark side. But my pride is slightly redeemed from being called back by the amazingly talented and kind producer Rick McCallum to be Anakin Skywalker’s very own stand-in on the UK set of Star Wars: Episode III, no less, and of even being at the premiere in Berlin.

And that magazine cover? It wasn’t so imaginary after all.

What a dream.

Christian J. Simpson on the set of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith with George Lucas

Just as it is to you, there is something in the fabric of it that makes Star Wars deeply special to me. It has always been about continuity, patterns, repeating themes, familiarity, and ever evolving circles. The Force binds the galaxy, and all its characters together. Perhaps that explains the above connections, and more even more intriguing (nay, creepy) ones that I will reveal in future articles right here.

Christian J. Simpson on the set of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

So there you have it. If you dream big enough, and sow many seeds, dreams really can come true — even Star Wars dreams.

Christian J. Simpson with Yoda on the set of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith

Which brings me full circle. I would love to hear below about your most magical Star Wars dream in the comments section below. Or even dream-turned-reality.

And for future blogs by me, I would like to continue to share what I feel is a fairly unique experience of being such a true devotee to Star Wars, and then to end up actually a very small part of that galaxy far, far away, working with the real Star Wars sets, props, and actors. So also to that end, if there are any types of stories you would like to hear, or any of the actors you would like to know some behind-the-scenes salacious (B. Crumb) tidbits about (within reason of course), just send me a message through the Force.

Or better still, use the comments system installed below this post!

Until next time, may the Force be with you, and long may all of our Star Wars dreams continue…

Christian J. Simpson in Star Wars: The Official Starships and Vehicles Collection #62

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