Noted 'Star Wars' character actor dies at 66

Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

He infamously mocked Darth Vader's "sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion," but it is Star Wars fans who will be forever devoted to character actor Richard LeParmentier.

LeParmentier, who died at the age of 66 on Tuesday while visiting his children in Austin, was famous in geek circles for one small yet key scene in the original 1977 Star Wars movie. As Death Star commander Admiral Motti, LeParmentier became the first man to be forcibly Force-choked on screen by the fan-favorite Sith Lord who found Motti's "lack of faith disturbing."

According to Star Wars lore, LeParmentier read for the role of Han Solo (which, of course, ultimately went to Harrison Ford) but director George Lucas instead cast him as a bureaucrat in Mos Eisley on the planet Tattooine. The small part was cut just before production started, but a month later he was hired to do two scenes as the tortured Imperial officer. (LeParmentier finally received his own Star Wars action figure in 2000.)

In addition to Star Wars, the Pittsburgh-born actor, who spent much of his acting career in Great Britain, also had roles in the James Bond film Octopussy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Rollerball and Superman II, which also featured his wife from 1981-84, Sarah Douglas.

In a statement from his three children, they said he "is one with the Force" and thanked their father's fans and friends for their longtime support.

"Every time we find someone's lack of faith disturbing, we'll think of him."


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