Posts Tagged ‘In Memoriam’

The Clone Wars Crew Remembers Ian Ambercrombie

Pete Vilmur | January 30, 2012

Ian Ambercrombie, best known to Star Wars fans as the voice of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in The Clone Wars, sadly passed away on Friday. He will be deeply missed by The Clone Wars crew and the many Star Wars fans who have enjoyed his Clone Wars characterization of Palpatine and his alter-ego, Darth Sidious.

The Clone Wars supervising director and producer relayed their regrets on Friday to the Lucasfilm Animation crew and the many fans of Ambercrombie’s work on The Clone Wars:

Supervising Director Dave Filoni:

“Today is a very sad day for Star Wars fans, as we lost a dear friend in Ian Abercrombie. I cannot express how thankful I am to have had the opportunity to work with Ian. He was extremely passionate about his role on the series and he was brilliant at it. I always called him ‘Chancellor’ no matter where we were, in the studio or out at a restaurant. I think he enjoyed that a great deal. I learned so much from him about directing actors, and working with dialog. His advice and mentoring will be sorely missed by all of us. Though he played a villain on our show, you would be hard pressed to meet a kinder person. He loved to laugh and his sense of humor always lightened our record sessions. I will miss his stories, I will miss his performances, and I will miss his contribution to our show.

“My friend, the Force will be with you, always, and you will never be forgotten.”

Producer Cary Silver:

“Today is a sad day in the Star Wars galaxy. We lost not only an incredible actor but also a very dear man. Ian Abercrombie was an integral part of Clone Wars from the beginning and we will deeply miss not only his portrayal of the Supreme Chancellor, but also his professionalism and especially, his stories. We owe a great debt of gratitude for the time we did get to spend with Ian. May the force be with him.”

You can read more about the work of Ian Ambercrombie (who is also well known to Seinfeld fans as Mr. Pitt) at

Lucas Remembers Star Wars Sword Master Bob Anderson

Pete Vilmur | January 9, 2012

The world lost a key contributor to the Star Wars saga last week in sword master Bob Anderson, who coordinated the lightsaber duels of Episode IV: A New Hope, and even donned Darth Vader’s armor for the high-intensity dueling with Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

The man who established how “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age” should be wielded in the Star Wars universe passed away on January 1 in West Sussex, England. He was 89.

“Bob Anderson was essential in defining what a lightsaber duel would look like,” says George Lucas. “He was the Jedi Master of the original trilogy, training the actors to duel with a new kind of weapon. In Empire and Jedi, Bob donned Darth Vader’s cape and helmet to battle Luke Skywalker in all of the amazing lightsaber battles. It was pure movie magic that Bob became Vader.”

Fortunately for Star Wars fans, Bob Anderson’s legacy will forever survive through the signature fighting styles of Jedi and Sith alike. He will be deeply missed.

Celeb Fans Celebrate Director Irvin Kershner Team | November 29, 2010

(Actress Carrie Fisher & Director Irvin Kershner)

This week marks the sad passing of Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner. The beloved director not only inspired his former student filmmaker George Lucas, but also other future directors, actors, screenwriters and more, not to mention the millions of fans worldwide who still proudly comment that The Empire Strikes Back remains their favorite in the Star Wars film saga.

We asked some of our favorite celebrity fans what Kershner meant to them, as well as gathered the best celebs tweets that celebrated this one-of-a-kind director.

“He brought motion and maturity to the most grown up chapter of the Star Wars saga. His decisions are inextricably woven into its success.” – Simon Pegg, actor/author

“One of my earliest film memories is of The Empire Strikes back. Still one of my favorite movies. A truly sad day.” — Milo Ventimiglia, actor/director

“I heard just recently about Irvin Kersher’s passing. It’s hard to put into words how much the work he did on Empire meant to me. It’s not only my favorite film in the Star Wars universe hands down, but it’s one of my most favorite films of all time. The introductory shots of planet Hoth alone resonate so clearly in my mind, regardless of how long it’s been since I’ve seen TESB. In fact, there are so many iconic visuals in that movie it’s mind blowing. This was probably the darkest film of the original trilogy. It had crazy twists and finished with one of the best cliffhangers of any film I’ve ever seen. I know I will always remember and appreciate Kershner for making a film that shaped who I am today.” – Joe Trohman, Fallout Boy guitarist

“Since his passing I’ve been thinking what was the most masterful part of Empire Strikes Back? And it comes back to Yoda. He was funny then disturbing and scary and then wise. And it was a puppet. Irvin made less with more. He focused on the characters and less on the fact they were in space. Lawrence Kasdan and Frank Oz gave us Yoda but it was Kershner that made it so real, so frightening, so important. And again, it was just a puppet.” – mc chris, rapper

“Kersh was one of the lucky ones — he found his passion and followed it. He absolutely loved movies. He was an amazing mentor to my father, a great friend to our family, and an inspiration to fans all over the galaxy. I have absolute faith that his legacy will live on for centuries. He’ll be greatly missed.” – Katie Lucas, The Clone Wars writer

“Farewell to Irvin Kershner – a true cinema legend. With The Empire Strikes Back, Kersh took an absolute phenomenon and somehow made it even better, creating perhaps, the greatest film of all time. An incredible feat indeed… and one that we still feel the impact of today! His contributions to the Star Wars Saga will never be forgotten. May he be one with the Force!” – Kyle Newman, director of Fanboys

“Han shot FIRST, but Irvin shot BEST.” – Jane Wiedlin, The Go-Go’s guitarist/vocalist

“Firstly, most of us can only hope to live to the ripe age of 87. Irvin outlived most people in years. However, out living people is nothing compared to directing not only one of the greatest movies of all time, but in my opinion, the BEST Star Wars movie EVER made. Having experienced acting and being married to an actor, I know it is up to a director to coax emotions out of the cast. He did this splendidly, as we can all see (some of us over, and over and over!). Thank you Mr. Kershner, for helping deliver one of the greatest movies of all time for many generations to enjoy. gone, but never forgotten!” – Adrianne Curry, supermodel & reality TV star

“I had the honor of meeting Mr. Irvin Kershner at a few events we both attended. I was saddened to hear about his passing. Mr. Kershner helped bring to the screen one of the most beloved films of all times, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. He will be missed, but through his work he will continue to entertain many generations to come. My thoughts are with his family at this time.” – Daniel Logan, Star Wars & The Clone Wars actor

Empire Strikes Back is the first movie I ever saw in a theater. Nothing has quite lived up to the experience since. Irvin Kershner was a cinematic master and a huge reason why I do what I do for a living.” – Amy Berg, TV Writer/Exec Producer for Eureka

“Getting the ‘I love you / I know’ exchange out of those actors is one of the finest moments in the history of film direction, and Empire is still the most important movie in my life. Today I am going to make some tea, wrap myself up in a blanket, and revisit Robocop 2.” – MC Frontalot, rapper

Empire Strikes Back was when I first got really excited about Star Wars. Took what was already great and made it a masterpiece….A great director, sadly missed.” – Jonathan Ross, UK TV show host

“Irvin Kershner’s contribution to Star Wars cannot be measured. If the second film in the saga had failed, we might never have seen the future of the galaxy that has become an integral part of our ongoing pop culture dialog. Kersh added humanity to characters we loved and helped us all believe a puppet could move a starship. His talents will long be missed.” – Chris Gore, G4TV Film Expert & Nerdlebrity

“By far, my favorite movie in the entire Star Wars pantheon is Empire and one of the main reasons was the direction of Irvin Kershner. His vision beautifully captured the darkness of the story he was telling and some of the greatest scenes of all-time were created under his watch-the Hoth battle, Yoda and Luke training in Dagobah, Bespin.
My biggest complaint about Irvin was that he didn’t direct one of the new trilogy movies as well.
Rest in peace Commander.” – Chris Jericho, wrestler/actor

“It takes guts of steel to enter another man’s empire and demand improvement — Irvin Kreshner had those guts. He expanded George Lucas’s ground-breaking vision, navigated the rough waters of audience expectation, complicated production and financial strife and propelled a narrative that had already become the face of popular culture into a new order of artistic magnitude. Also, he loved ‘the puppet,’ and that makes him a hero in my book.” – Javier Grillo-Marxuach, writer/producer of The Middleman and Lost

“I’ll never forget and always be thankful to him for exploding my young mind for my first epic battle scene. The battle of Hoth will stay with me always.” – Ben Templesmith, comic book artist/writer

“My favorite thing about Empire are the performances. The actors inhabit that extraordinary story with a relatable subtlety that borders on naturalism. I attribute this to Kersh’s deft and confident directing on the set and imagine he must’ve held sway in the cutting room. Kersh + Kasdan+ Lucas = best Star Wars ever. ” – Jesse Alexander, TV writer/producer


We’ll Miss You, Ackmena

Bonnie Burton | April 25, 2009

When I first started working at Lucasfilm 6 years ago, one of my responsibilities was to admin the forums. Because I was an admin, I could choose any Star Wars character (including obscure EU folks) I wanted as my avatar. I didn’t have to think about it long. I instantly chose Ackmena — the night-time bartender of the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine played by none other than Bea Arthur in The Star Wars Holiday Special.

I had always a nostaglic love for that Thanksgiving television special which aired in 1978. It wasn’t because of the Boba Fett cartoon, or the discovery that Chewbacca was married and had a kid named Lumpy. Nope. It was all because of Bea. She was strong, smart, witty, and didn’t take any guff from anyone, including the Empire.

Every character Bea Arthur played — whether it be the sassy bartender Ackmena, Maude Findlay (on Maude), or Dorothy Zbornak (on Golden Girls) — had this inner strength and sarcasm that made her cynical yet lovable. She was liberal without being self-righteous. She was a feminist before I ever knew what that meant. Best of all, she danced with Greedo and sang to that wretched hive of scum and villainy as she threw them out of the cantina.


We’ll Miss You, Gormaanda

Bonnie Burton | May 30, 2008

(Harvey Korman as Chef Gormaanda)

When I think back on some of the first movies I saw with my dad, or hours spent at home as a latch-key kid watching comedy skit TV shows, it’s full of memories involving comedic actor Harvey Korman. I remember giggling at his klutzy Hedley Lamarr character in the movie Blazing Saddles. I recall my afterschool ritual of getting comfy on the living room couch, with Little Debbie oatmeal pies in hand, and snort-laughing at Korman’s crazy antics on “The Carol Burnett Show.”

I can still remember being on the edge of my seat in the movie theater watching Korman as Captain Blythe in Herbie Goes Bananas. Heck, I even liked him during my full-blown Goth days when he played Dr. Jack Seward in Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

So it really shouldn’t be a surprise when years later, I was brave enough to admit in a crowded Lucasfilm marketing meeting that I was a big fan of the “Star Wars Holiday Special.”