?The name Deep Roy (for my money, the most awesome name in Hollywood) may not be immediately recognizable to everyone here, but if you call yourself a science fiction fan, odds are you’re familiar with his work, if not his name or face (which is oft buried under layers of SFX make-up). Born Mohinder Purba in Nairobi, Kenya, to Indian parents in 1957, the 4′ 4″ Roy started his career as a stand-up comedian in England before his big break in 1976, playing the role of the “Italian Assassin” in The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Since then, he has worked steadily as an actor, stunt man, and puppeteer–appearing in some of nerd-dom’s most popular films and franchises.
In fact, Deep Roy (occasionally credited as Gordeep Roy or Roy Deep) has achieved a status unique in nerd-dom — he is the only actor to have appeared in Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who! (Sorry, Simon Pegg, but you only did a voice in Clone Wars.) That’s right, the Nerd Sci-Fi Franchise Hat Trick!
As for what those roles were — well, read on.
8) Egyptian Guard, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
?Relax; there is nothing wrong with your computer; you are indeed seeing a reference to Revenge of the Fallen on a TR list that isn’t 100% negative. But hold your nerd rage for a moment, if you would. Please understand how deeply I hate this movie: I’m pretty sure that seeing it actually erased my memories of one or two good films, the way cancer turns healthy cells into malignant tumors. That’s why I was so happy when Mr. Roy appeared in a brief cameo as a diminutive Egyptian military officer… at that point I was seconds from chewing off my own foot to escape, like an animal in a trap. Deep Roy’s appearance reminded me that there was still good in the world… that there were things beyond the hell that was this movie… things worth living for.
His cameo didn’t allow me to enjoy ROTF, but it did help me survive it.
7) Mambino, Alien From L.A.
Known best for the marvelous MST3K episode it was made into, Alien From L.A. stars a squeaky voiced, pre-Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Kathy Ireland as a girl from Los Angeles who winds up at the center of the Earth in the lost city of Atlantis, which is populated entirely by mimes, new wave bands, and Australians. Roy plays a mobster/circus freak called “Mambino, Boss of Bosses.” Awful as the film is, for once, Roy got to speak and wasn’t hidden inside a costume, and he did the best he could with the laughably weak writing. If nothing else, he at least appeared to be having fun.
6) Teeny Weeny, The Neverending Story
?Though his lines were few (and overdubbed by Alan Oppenheimer) and his character only appeared in two scenes, anyone who has seen The Neverending Story remembers the top-hatted little man on the racing snail, called “Teeny Weeny” according to IMDB (fun fact: Roy’s production company is called “Teeny Weeny Productions”) . The character is best remembered for his journey to the Ivory Tower on his beloved snail with the Rock Biter, the Night Hob, and the stupid bat.
5) Fellini, Flash Gordon
Not a great deal to say about this character, I’m afraid: Fellini was the little red-faced man Princess Aura kept as a pet. What exactly Fellini is, how he came to be a pet, how well or poorly he’s treated… none of this is explained. He has no lines, and the closest he comes to communicating is when he jumps up and down in excitement as Flash uses his Football-Fu to whale the piss out of a bunch of Ming’s guards (30 years later and I still don’t understand that scene: What was he hoping to accomplish? Even if Zarkov hadn’t beaned him, Ming would just keep sending in guards until even Flash’s Jedi football tricks wouldn’t be enough to save him)… but I digress.
4) Keenser, Star Trek
?This was the role that granted Deep Roy the singular status of “Nerd Icon Cubed.” You all remember watching J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, wondering where the heck Scotty is, and then running into him on an abandoned outpost verbally abusing a horned toad in welding goggles, right? Well, that’s Keenser, and if you saw the movie, you know as much about him as I do. Seriously, I was shocked: I expected once I went online I’d find out not only the name of his species, but their home planet, history, language, mating habits, religious practices, etc. But nope — nada. Not one scrap of background information, not even on Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki. Nevertheless, I was not so desperate for info as to seek out fan fiction detailing just how Scotty and Keenser spent those lonely months together. If anyone wants to open that can of worms, be my fucking guest.
3) Mr. Sin, Doctor Who‘s “The Talons of Weng Chaing”
One of Deep Roy’s most well-known (if not most easily recognized) roles, Mr. Sin was a villain during the tenure of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, specifically in “The Talons Of Weng Chiang.” The character is a cyborg from the 51st Century with the cerebral cortex of a pig — he looks like an exhibit from the world’s most racist wax museum. Mr. Sin is in the service of Li H’sen Chang, a stage magician/tong boss who believes he’s doing the will of the god Weng Chiang when he’s actually the pawn of 51st century despot Magnus Greel. Designed as a toy and originally called the “Peking Homunculus,” Mr. Sin nearly started World War Six when his organic cerebral cortex gained control of his functions.
2) Droopy McCool, Return of the Jedi
Quick question: What do Deep Roy and James Earl Jones have in common? Give up? Both were (at least originally) uncredited for their roles in the Star Wars trilogy. Of course, Jones provided the unmistakable voice of one of history’s most iconic villains, while Roy played a shaved Shar Pei in boxer shorts that plays clarinet… but the principle’s the same. As was often the case, Roy was silent and unrecognizable in this role, but any Star Wars fan immediately knows Droopy McCool, woodwind player for the Max Rebo band, even if they don’t know who’s likely sweating to death under all that foam rubber. Droopy wasn’t the only character in ROTJ Mr. Roy helped bring to life; as a stuntman he also played an Ewok, and occasionally stood in for Kenny Baker as R2-D2.
1) 165 Different Oompa Loopas, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
There was no question which role would be at the top of this list. Whatever you may think of Tim Burton’s vision of the classic Roald Dahl novel, the technical wizardry and acting prowess that went into making Deep Roy into 165 separate Oompa Loompas is beyond impressive (another fun fact: between scenes on Star Trek, Roy would break into Oompa Loompa dances). This wasn’t the first time Roy worked with Burton; previously he’d played the clown “Mr. Soggybottom” in Big Fish and several apes in Planet of the Apes.