Improv Everywhere

Star Wars Subway Car

Produced by Charlie Todd and Matt Adams / music by Gustav Holst, arranged by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, we staged a reenactment of the first Princess Leia / Darth Vader scene from Star Wars on a New York City subway car. The white walls and sliding doors on the train reminded us of the rebel ship from the movie, and we thought it would be fun to see how people would react to a surprise appearance by the iconic characters. We spread out the actors along the train line, staging it so they would enter the right car at the right time. Enjoy the video first and then go behind-the-scenes with the photos and report below.

Shot by: Matt Adams, Jason Eppink, Erik Martin
Photography: Katie Sokoler (photo credit for all photos on this page.)
– Princess Leia – Cody Lindquist
– Stormtroopers – Patrick Cassels, Brian Murphy, Josh Ruben
– Darth Vader – Alex Scordelis

Soaked Stormtroopers: Agents Cassels, Murphy, and Ruben

This mission took place on an incredibly rainy day. Fortunately we were going to be underground for most of it, but our intrepid Stormtroopers got a little bit wet on the way to the mission. The Stormtroopers were played by some of our friends at College Humor. They had bought the costumes for a couple of great videos they produced, and were nice enough to loan them (along with the Vader costume) to us for the mission.

The Vader costume was really awesome. It had like ten different components and included a remote control voice box that made the breathing sound effect. It was a bit of a puzzle getting Agent Scordelis dressed, but we finally figured it out.

We used our beloved 6-train stop at Brooklyn Bridge for the start of the mission. We staggered our agents, sending Darth and the Stormtroopers ahead on one train to meet up with Leia later in a second train. We planned to stage the mission several times over the course of a couple of hours. If you’ve got all those awesome costumes together, you better do it more than once!

Agent Lindquist waits for the first train to depart

Stormtroopers and Vader riding the staging car to their assigned stops

The mission started when Leia entered her train. She had two full stops by herself before the other actors entered.

I created a book for Leia to read using a template I found online. I printed out the fake cover and attached it to one of my favorite prank books, which just so happened to be the right size and color.

Agent Lindquist got a few funny looks from the passengers around her. She was unmistakably Princess Leia with her hair buns and white robe. Yet seeing one person in a costume on the subway isn’t all that strange. Maybe she’s going to a party? Unless you took the time to notice the book she was reading, you might not think too much of it.

The Stormtroopers got a nice reaction when they entered. The car wasn’t very crowded the first time we did it, but those who were there were laughing, particularly when the Stormtroopers grabbed Leia.

At the next stop, Vader’s entrance got a great reaction. Agent Scordelis entered the car with force and authority, but unfortunately didn’t account for the height of his helmet. He knocked his head on the door when he entered! It was hysterical, and we should have video of it in an upcoming “outtakes” video.

The people on the train went crazy for Vader. I think they thought the joke was over once the Stormtroopers got on, but Vader just topped it so well. One thing we learned is that almost every human will immediately take out their camera when they see Darth Vader. We’ve done lots of crazy missions on the subway over the years, but I have never seen so many people taking photographs of our performance. How can you not take a photo of Darth Vader? It’s impossible to resist!

Leia being taken away, after her intense scene with Vader

A guy snaps one last photo of our cast

After the agents exited, we reset to stage the mission again. We were now closer to midtown, so we knew we’d have a larger audience for the next run.

Leia about to enter her train for the 2nd run

This guy was completely perplexed (as seen in the video)

Stormtroopers wait for the passengers to exit the train before entering. Proper protocol!

My job during the mission was to act as Vader’s handler, making sure Agent Scordelis was where he needed to be. He didn’t have great visibility out of his mask, so someone needed to be there in case he needed help. It felt like the two of us were on our own mini-mission. It was hilarious to see Darth Vader standing all by himself at the end of a subway platform, patiently waiting on the train.

Vader got all kinds of funny looks from people as they passed by or gawked at him from across the tracks. At one point, a young guy came up to him and said, “Sith Lord, would it be OK if I took your photo?”

Vader’s entrance the second time went much more smoothly (he remembered to duck!) and the crowd roared when he appeared.

A guy takes a self-portrait with our Stormtroopers

We staged the mission around four times in total, heading uptown as far as 125th Street, and then back down to Union Square.

It was fun watching the reactions of the passengers, young and old. We encountered a few kids throughout the day, and not surprisingly they seemed to be the most excited by the mission. Some seemed flat out amazed.

Watching the characters walk away

Stormtrooper Graveyard

We finally made it down to Union Square and the actors got out of their costumes, helmets littering the station floor. It was a really fun afternoon. It’s always satisfying to see a subway car full of strangers come to life when something hilarious unexpectedly happens. Folks were laughing and chatting with other passengers while they snapped away on their camera phones. A good time was had by all.

Mission Accomplished


Watch other Movies In Real Life episodes:

– Episode 1: Rocky In Real Life
– Episode 2: Indiana Jones In Real Life
– Episode 3: Lord of the Rings In Real Life
– Episode 4: The Matrix In Real Life
– Episode 5: Back to the Future In Real Life
– Episode 6: Jurassic Park In Real Life
– Episode 7: When Harry Met Sally In Real Life
– Episode 8: Harry Potter In Real Life
– Episode 9: Spartacus In Real Life
– Episode 10: A Christmas Story In Real Life

Agent Sokoler’s Flickr Set

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