We made it through the week! Time for more fun scifi stuff – today we’ll pay tribute to an undersung hero of Star Wars: All Hail Gonk! Gonk droids, according to StarWars.Fandom were GNK power droids, an Industrial Automaton knockoff of the successful EG-6 power droid. The GNK power droid derives its name from the “gonk” sound it makes in Episode IV. The droid was originally called simply a “power droid,” but a newsgroup posting in 1993 led to the now-official name becoming quickly popular.
That’s the lore, but here’s the reality. Gonk was nothing more than two storage bins and some human legs hidden by dryer vent hose. The costume is so low-tech that you can build a Gonk with materials lying around the house. In real life, Gonk was played by two actors. Rusty Goffe is an English actor who played several characters in A New Hope, including Kabe, a Jawa, and a gonk droid. Before Star Wars, he was an Oompa Loompa in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. After Star Wars, he appeared as a Dwarf in Flash Gordon. He also later worked with George Lucas on the 1988 film Willow, in which he had an uncredited role as a Nelwyn villager.
Gonk’s other actor was Jack Purvis, the only actor to be credited in all three of the original Star Wars films as a different character each time: In Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), he played the Chief Jawa; in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), he played Chief Ugnaught; and in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), he played Teebo. When he wasn’t acting in Star Wars movies, Purvis was in movies like Willow, Labyrinth, and Brazil.
I hope you enjoy this Sci-Friday and dive down the rabbit hole of every other Sci-Friday I’ve published in the past couple years. Have a great weekend!