The man who memorably was schooled in the ways of the force by Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" has passed.
Character actor Richard LeParmentier, who played Admiral Motti in the original 1977 "Star Wars," died Tuesday morning in Austin, Texas while visiting family. He was 66 years old.
While Admiral Motti didn't play a recurring in the ongoing "Star Wars" series, he figured in one of the first film's best and most famous scenes. As Motti discusses the various strategic errors made by the Empire as they try to bring down rebel forces, he makes the mistake of questioning the importance of the Force, and condescendingly tells Darth Vader, "Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes!"
Vader then, using the power of the force, begins to strangle Motti from across the room, and as the admiral struggles to breathe or move, Vader replies, "I find your lack of faith disturbing." It's a great bit of dialogue, but the way LeParmentier convincingly sells his strangulation, as well as the dramatic flair with which he criticizes his superiors, is what makes this good scene great.
LeParmentier was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1946, and relocated to England in 1974. That year, he made his film debut in Michael Apted's rock 'n' roll drama "Stardust," and "Star Wars" was his fifth screen credit.
While LeParmentier was best remembered for his role in "Star Wars," he was a working actor for over thirty years, appearing in "Rollerball," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Octopussy," and in recurring roles on the British television series "Capital City" and "We'll Meet Again."
In 1980, while appearing in "Superman II," he met actress Sarah Dougless, who would become his wife from 1981 to 1984. In the late 1980s, LeParmentier began dividing his time between acting and writing; he wrote episodes for several popular UK TV shows, including "Love Hurts," "Boon," and "The Bill," and wrote the 1995 documentary "Castle Ghosts of England."
While LeParmentier took on occasional acting roles in the 21st Century, he was focusing on screenwriting in the last years of his life; he also appeared comic and sci-fi conventions, eagerly meeting fans who remembered his best-known role. LeParmentier once told a reporter, "I did the choking effect by flexing muscles in my neck. It set off a chain of events, that choking. I can't do it anymore because, oddly enough, I have had an operation on my neck and had some 21st century titanium joints put into it."
LeParmentier's three children -- Rhiannon, Stephanie, and Tyrone LeParmentier – released a statement remembering their father as "a warm, genuine person with an unparalleled joie de vivre."
"He absolutely loved traveling the world and meeting his friends and fellow 'Stars Wars' fans," it read in part. "Every time we find someone's lack of faith disturbing, we'll think of him … He has gone to the Stars, and he will be missed."
See Richard LeParmentier in 'Star Wars':