General Veers from Star Wars Episode V, is again one of the characters who might not have been worth noticing at all if it hadn’t been for the actor, in this case Julian Glover, taking care to get some insight into their psychology before portraying them. General Veers is the man ultimately leading the iconic Imperial assault on the icy planet of Hoth, but he is present from the beginning in all the other scenes which include Darth Vader and the rest of Imperial officers. And he leads in one significant way – he is actually the one to have the most, one would say, peer-to-peer conversations with Darth Vader.
Of course, that would be a bit of an exaggeration. Veers is still Vader’s subordinate and he acts exactly like that. But, unlike admirals Ozzel or Piett or captain Needa, he does so without trembling whenever the Dark Lord looks in his direction. When he reports to Vader that the fleet has arrived to the Hoth system, he does so with professionalism and soldier’s precision. Despite the fact that he just happened to intrude upon Vader’s privacy in his meditation sphere, he does his duty and delivers the report without unnecessary flinching. He even dares to speak up on behalf of admiral Ozzel who just blundered, a thing most people would not even contemplate (knowing all too well what can happen if you make Vader angry). But Veers has courage. We can see it also later on Hoth when he is sending a message to Vader that he may start his landing: his tone is confident; he is speaking to his superior, but this is also his field and he, after all, is the general.
That is, in fact, what Julian Glover said when he discussed the role with George Lucas before filming. “This man is a general. You don’t get to be a general if you’re a wimp.” They had agreed to portray Veers so that he obviously respects Vader, but “is not a wimp” and is not even afraid to gainsay – within reasonable limits, of course.
Veers is understandably a relatively small role and in the filmography of someone like Julian Glover, it would be but one of many; however it is of course significant, if only for the worldwide fame of Star Wars. Mr. Glover has appeared in more sci-fi and fantasy films and series, including his villain role in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, appearances in Doctor Who or from the more recent ones, his portrayal of Grand Maester Pycelle in Game of Thrones.
Mr. Glover has certainly not been shying away from the fandom and has always attended conventions, being, like his colleagues, somewhat overwhelmed by the attention such small role like General Veers could get him from the Star Wars fans. He has always had a high appreciation for the saga, even though he has said on more than one occasion that – and here he would find the support of many old-school fans – he prefers the original trilogy and The Phantom Menace, thinking that the focus of the latter films shifted too much on the cinematic tricks at the expense of story.
Julian Glover could have repeated his role in Return of the Jedi, had he not been busy with other projects. The idea did not in the end even get through into the script. (After all, one has to see that there was enough to do in the sixth film even without an extra Imperial officer taking up screen time.) That, incidentally, touches one more relevant point regarding General Veers – where exactly does he leave the story? Some film-viewers could easily assume that he died during the assault on Hoth (since we see so many destroyed AT-ATs and Veers simply disappears afterwards). If one pays closer attention to which of the Imperial walkers are actually destroyed, it turns out that Veers didn’t die at least on-screen. That was why his return in the third film was possible to contemplate in the first place. However, the scene of his walker being destroyed by a Rebel pilot and Veers’ death being shown, was planned in the original script; it did not make it into the final version, though. Just for completion’s sake, let’s remark that the expanded universe actually did continue Veers’ story; after being badly wounded in his AT-AT’s collapse, he would became paralysed and, refusing cybernetic replacements, continue his life in a hoverchair. That is actually a fairly interesting development, with the new trilogy coming out, however, the tales about General Veers have been confined to non-canon. Even without them, however, he is an interesting character giving once again some more personal feel to the grey bunch of evil soldiers.