Star Wars is insanely popular. I’m sure that’s the most shocking statement you’ve heard all day, right? It’s one of those rare properties that everything that appears on screen, no matter how minor, has an extensive backstory and in-depth history. One of these bit players is a character named BoShek, who is only glimpsed for a few moments early in A New Hope. While damn near every actor, no matter how small their part, has hit up the convention circuit and played up their momentary dalliance in that far, far away galaxy, the uncredited actor who played BoShek has been a mystery, at least until now.
The identity of BoShek has become, well, maybe not the greatest mystery in Star Wars lore, but certainly an area of fascination for many hardcore devotees. Especially in a universe where everything has a story, such a blank spot is rare. But investigative journalist Billy Jensen uncovered the truth, and the identity of the actor who played BoShek is Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin.
If you’re not familiar with BoShek, he shows up in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. He’s a Corellian smuggler and pilot that Obi-Wan Kenobi chats up, hoping to hire to take him and Luke Skywalker off of Tatooine. He doesn’t take the job, but sends him to a couple rogues that might, a guy named Han Solo and his fuzzy sidekick/BFF Chewbacca. And the rest is history. Just imagine how different Star War would be if Obi-Wan and Luke hitched a ride with BoShek?
The journey of how the identity of Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin was unearthed after nearly 40 years is almost as epic at the movie itself. When Billy Jensen saw a panel at Star Wars Celebration, he was shocked to learn that no one knew BoShek’s real identity, and enlisted Pablo Hidalgo and Tom Spina, who had hosted the panel on the Mos Eisley cantina scene, and set about to track him down.
Billy Jensen is an investigative journalist by trade, writing true crime stories for the likes of Rolling Stone and more, so he has the skill set necessary for such an undertaking. After months of searching and numerous dead ends, he finally received an email from a man named Barry Gregory, who claimed his grandfather played BoShek. He put Jensen in touch with his mother, who confirmed what he said, and sent a photo as proof.
It was well known in his family that Frances Alfred Basil Tomlin, known to his friends as Tom, played BoShek. He unfortunately passed away more than eleven years ago, but now, thanks to the efforts of one intrepid Star Wars fan, there’s a new bit of trivia from that far, far away galaxy, and Tomlin can be recognized for his contributions.