‘Star Wars’ actor Richard LeParmentier, 66, dies

April 17, 2013 | 12:00 p.m.
Actor Richard LeParmentier, who as a young Death Star commander learned the hard way that Darth Vader brooks no disrespect, died Tuesday. He was 66. (AP Photo/Coolwaters Prods.)

Actor Richard LeParmentier, who as a young Death Star commander learned the hard way that Darth Vader brooks no disrespect, died Tuesday. He was 66. (Coolwaters Prods.)

Richard LeParmentier, who played Admiral Motti in “Star Wars,” died Tuesday. He was 66.

The Pittsburgh-born character actor appeared in more than 50 films and television shows, including Norman Jewison’s 1975 film “Rollerball,” Warren Beatty’s 1981 drama “Reds,” the 1983 James Bond movie “Octopussy” and Richard Lester’s 1980 superhero sequel “Superman II,” in which he played a reporter.

But it was his turn in George Lucas’ landmark space opera that perhaps was his greatest claim to fame. In one of the many memorable scenes aboard the Death Star, Motti takes a haughty tone with Darth Vader, suggesting he not try to frighten the commanders with his “sorcerer’s ways.” He then launches into a derisive speech criticizing Vader’s inability to conjure up the stolen data tapes with the plans for the space station or the location of the rebels’ secret stronghold.

At which point, Vader demonstrates the power of the force — by strangling Motti while standing several feet away.

“I find your lack of faith disturbing,” Vader observes.

According to StarWars.com, LeParmentier was one of the many actors who read for the part of Han Solo, but he was originally hired to play a Mos Eisley bureaucrat named Montross. Just before the start of production that part was cut from the film, and he won the role of Motti instead.

There are few film franchises that can claim to have affected pop culture as profoundly as "Star Wars," the brainchild of George Lucas. A new "Star Wars" trilogy is destined for theaters, but here's a look back at the franchise's big-screen offerings over the years. Click through the gallery. (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (1977)
On the day "Star Wars" thundered into theaters on May 25, 1977, the film's producer Gary Kurtz appeared on a radio call-in show. Kurtz recalled: "This guy, this caller, was really enthusiastic and talking about the movie in really deep detail. ... I said, 'You know a lot abut the film.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've seen it four times already.' And that was opening day. I knew something was happening." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)
The second "Star Wars" film, the most critically revered film in the franchise, was directed by Irvin Kershner. "I really knocked myself out," Kershner said. "I was able to go deeper into the characterization. I was doing the second act of a three-act play, or the second movement of a symphony. That's always the slower movement. I could not have a grand climax, I had to leave things ambiguous. My big climax came at the beginning of the film, with the battle in the snow, then I told the story of the people." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983)
The original series came to a close with "Return of the Jedi" -- a welcome ending for Lucas, who said at the time, "There hasn't really been one day in the last 10 years that I haven't had to wake up in the morning and say, 'God, I've got to worry about this movie. ... If I had to do it all over again, I'd have to think about it, especially if I knew what I was going to have to give up in order to get it."

"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)
Sixteen years after the original trilogy wrapped up, "The Phantom Menace" began a new prequel trilogy based on Darth Vader's origin story. "Phantom Menace," which introduced new characters like Darth Maul (above right) and the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks, marked the first time a fully digital movie was shown to the public. It was the only "Star Wars" film to earn more than $1 billion at the box office. (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002)
Anakin Skywalker's transformation from a precocious, pod-racing kid to the ultimate villain Darth Vader continued in "Attack of the Clones," in which Hayden Christensen portrayed the sullen young Jedi, and Natalie Portman played his lady-love, Padme. (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005)
"Revenge of the Sith" opened 28 years after the original "Star Wars" and was the first to receive a PG-13 rating, due to several violent scenes as Anakin turns to the Dark Side. "I had to turn him into a monster," Lucas said at the time. "It's a tough story. You can't make a guy evil without having him do evil things." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (2008)
The Star Wars universe found its way to the big screen again in 2008, albeit in animated form. "The Clone Wars" centered on the wartime tales of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi and featured Padme Amidala, Mace Windu, Count Dooku and other characters from the prequel trilogy. The film paved the way for the award-winning cartoon series of the same name. "I am amazed at how it continues," Lucas said at the time. "It’s not something I expected to happen, and not something we spend a lot of time thinking about trying to expand. This was created because I wanted to stimulate kids' imaginations, inspire them to be creative and to think outside the box." (Lucasfilm)

StarWars.com also noted that Admiral Motti received his full name, “Conan Antonio Motti,” when Lucas provided an off-the-cuff answer to a trivia question asked of him by talk show host Conan O’Brien in 2007.

“He absolutely loved traveling the world and meeting his friends and fellow Stars Wars fans…,” LeParmentier’s family said in a statement.

– Gina McIntyre

Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex

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There are few film franchises that can claim to have affected pop culture as profoundly as "Star Wars," the brainchild of George Lucas. A new "Star Wars" trilogy is destined for theaters, but here's a look back at the franchise's big-screen offerings over the years. Click through the gallery. (Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)

"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (1977)
On the day "Star Wars" thundered into theaters on May 25, 1977, the film's producer Gary Kurtz appeared on a radio call-in show. Kurtz recalled: "This guy, this caller, was really enthusiastic and talking about the movie in really deep detail. ... I said, 'You know a lot abut the film.' He said, 'Yeah, yeah, I've seen it four times already.' And that was opening day. I knew something was happening." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980)
The second "Star Wars" film, the most critically revered film in the franchise, was directed by Irvin Kershner. "I really knocked myself out," Kershner said. "I was able to go deeper into the characterization. I was doing the second act of a three-act play, or the second movement of a symphony. That's always the slower movement. I could not have a grand climax, I had to leave things ambiguous. My big climax came at the beginning of the film, with the battle in the snow, then I told the story of the people." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983)
The original series came to a close with "Return of the Jedi" -- a welcome ending for Lucas, who said at the time, "There hasn't really been one day in the last 10 years that I haven't had to wake up in the morning and say, 'God, I've got to worry about this movie. ... If I had to do it all over again, I'd have to think about it, especially if I knew what I was going to have to give up in order to get it."

"Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)
Sixteen years after the original trilogy wrapped up, "The Phantom Menace" began a new prequel trilogy based on Darth Vader's origin story. "Phantom Menace," which introduced new characters like Darth Maul (above right) and the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks, marked the first time a fully digital movie was shown to the public. It was the only "Star Wars" film to earn more than $1 billion at the box office. (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" (2002)
Anakin Skywalker's transformation from a precocious, pod-racing kid to the ultimate villain Darth Vader continued in "Attack of the Clones," in which Hayden Christensen portrayed the sullen young Jedi, and Natalie Portman played his lady-love, Padme. (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005)
"Revenge of the Sith" opened 28 years after the original "Star Wars" and was the first to receive a PG-13 rating, due to several violent scenes as Anakin turns to the Dark Side. "I had to turn him into a monster," Lucas said at the time. "It's a tough story. You can't make a guy evil without having him do evil things." (Lucasfilm)

"Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (2008)
The Star Wars universe found its way to the big screen again in 2008, albeit in animated form. "The Clone Wars" centered on the wartime tales of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi and featured Padme Amidala, Mace Windu, Count Dooku and other characters from the prequel trilogy. The film paved the way for the award-winning cartoon series of the same name. "I am amazed at how it continues," Lucas said at the time. "It’s not something I expected to happen, and not something we spend a lot of time thinking about trying to expand. This was created because I wanted to stimulate kids' imaginations, inspire them to be creative and to think outside the box." (Lucasfilm)

Comments


4 Responses to ‘Star Wars’ actor Richard LeParmentier, 66, dies

  1. thomas wente says:

    Star Wars without George Lucas? Get real.
    I suppose that next we will be having disney running the show

    • Stating the Obvious says:

      Star Wars with George Lucas in charge gave us Episodes 1-3 which were terrible, your point is moot. He didn't have the reins over everything for Episodes 4-6, people shutting down his terrible ideas are what made those movies good.

      • John W. says:

        Yes, to a point, but without George Lucas there never would have been ANY Star Wars. Maybe with your harsh criticism, you could show a little respect where a lot is due?

  2. G.F. says:

    You both have valid points… Personally EP3 was good and lead well into EP4… And Yes George Lucas was the man behind it ALL , like it or not…

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