One of the most interesting and dynamic things about the Star Wars franchise is that it is an absolute reservoir of trivia and tidbits that its fans eat up and spit out in a rabid sense. It’s a virtual geek’s paradise of information. Like The Beatles, there aren’t many other pop cultural institutions that are so drawn and quartered to the last minute detail by its minions of followers.
So that said, we are sad to report that Richard LeParmentier, who appearing in the first Star Wars film, has died. LeParmentier is best known for playing Admiral Motti in the Star Wars: A New Hope and who was also the first character shown on screen being force-choked by Darth Vader for his defiant behavior towards him. Motti – who put his confidence behind the Empire’s new “technological terror,” the Death Star – was a character who actually had the balls and audacity to and stand up to the Darth Lord of the Sith’s authority, creating a sequence which made the iconic cinematic villain exclaim one of the most memorable lines of the franchise. When Motti tells Vader that his “sad devotion to that ancient religion” hasn’t help him retrieve the stolen Death Star plans, the Sith Lord responds by Force-choking the cocky Admiral, calmly stating, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
The ensuing sequence after Vader utters that chilling line, where Motti does some disturbing gymnastics via his neck muscles, showed audiences the full potential of just how sinister and powerful Darth Vader was and had the propensity to be, an act that while filming, LeParmentier had once explained that he did the choking effect “by flexing the muscles in his neck, which set off a chain of events.” It clearly stands as one of the most memorable moments in science-Ffiction history, when Vader demonstrates the “significant” power of The Force.
LeParmentier was an American, but was raised in Bath, Somerset. He also cut his teeth acting-wise in Rollerball, another science-fiction yarn, but done in a more realistic, apocalyptic setting, and the hybrid live-action and animated feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit, where he warbled the memorable line, “Now that’s what I call one seriously disturbed toon.”
But of course, it will be his appearance, albeit a short one, in that very first Star Wars film, that he will always be remembered for. Star Wars zealots have never forgotten him as he made many appearances at Star Wars Fan Conventions for years after the original film. Richard LeParmentier may not have been a household name, but he certainly was part of a household scene, and someone who transcended fifteen minutes of fame, with about five minutes of screen time, but some of the most iconic minutes the silver screen has ever seen.