Jeremy Bulloch, the British actor who played the role of bounty hunter Boba Fett in the original Star Wars trilogy, died Thursday at the age of 75.
Bulloch’s family wrote on the actor’s website, “Jeremy died peacefully on 17th December 2020 following health complications, including several years living with Parkinson’s disease. He spent his final weeks in the wonderful care of staff at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, close to the house where he and his wife Maureen had lived together for more than fifty years. Maureen and two of his sons, Jamie and Robbie, were with him during his final days.”
“Jeremy Bulloch, whose unforgettable performance as notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett has captivated audiences since he first appeared in 1980’s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, has sadly passed away,” Star Wars tweeted Thursday. “He will be remembered not only for his iconic portrayal of the legendary character, but also for his warmth and generous spirit which have become an enduring part of his rich legacy.”
“Jeremy Bulloch was the quintessential English gentleman,” Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, tweeted Thursday. “A fine actor, delightful company & so kind to everyone lucky enough to meet or work with him. I will deeply miss him & am so grateful to have known him.”
Jeremy Bulloch was the quintessential English gentleman. A fine actor, delightful company & so kind to everyone lucky enough to meet or work with him. I will deeply miss him & am so grateful to have known him. 💔 #RIP_DearJeremy pic.twitter.com/SMvjtQsSwZ
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) December 17, 2020
Bulloch portrayed Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back — the character’s big-screen debut, following its animated premiere in 1978’s Star Wars Holiday Special — as well as The Return of the Jedi. Bulloch played the helmeted Mandalorian in appearance only; the character’s few lines of dialogue was first recorded by Jason Wingreen (who died in 2016) and then, on the rereleased version of the original trilogy, actor Temuera Morrison, who now plays Boba Fett on The Mandalorian.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Bulloch fell into the fan-favorite role: His half-brother was Star Wars producer Robert Watts, who was tasked with finding someone to fit the pre-made suit. Bulloch said in a 2015 AMA interview, “I remember George Lucas saying, ‘Welcome aboard. It’s not a big role, but I think you’ll have some fun.’”
Not unlike Darth Vader actor David Prowse — who died November 29th at the age of 85 — Bulloch provided Boba Fett with his distinct physicality, with the actor admitting he patterned his movements after Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti Western gunslingers; decades later, The Mandalorian would itself draw inspiration from the Western genre.
In the ensuing decades, Bulloch became a mainstay at Star Wars fan conventions until retiring from the circuit in 2018. “In 1979 I was called onto the set of Empire Strikes Back to play Boba Fett, and since that day it has changed the entire direction of my life in such a wonderful way,” Bulloch wrote at the time. “It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to inspire so many generations of Star Wars fans.”
In addition to donning Boba Fett’s “beskar” armor, Bulloch also had roles in the Eighties-era James Bond films For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, Doctor Who and, in an unmasked role, Captain Colton in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith; during the making of the prior film — 2002’s Star Wars: Attack of the Clones — he befriended actor Daniel Logan, who played the young Boba Fett in the prequel.
“It brings me to tears to announce Jeremy Bulloch has [passed] away,” Logan wrote on Instagram. “RIP Legend. I’ll never forget all you’ve taught me. I’ll love you forever. Conventions won’t be the same without you. May the force be with you always.”
Bulloch added of Boba Fett’s appeal in the 2015 interview, “I think the main reason is there’s something about the costume. I remember the very first day I put the costume on and looked in the mirror [and said], ‘Yes that looks good!’ There’s just something about it you don’t know what’s going to happen. He has all these gadgets, he has jetpacks, and knee pads. It’s not just me, it’s the character Boba Fett. There’s something serious about him.”