Reports have emerged from the “Star Wars” community that Jeremy Bulloch, the actor who originated the iconic “Star Wars” bounty hunter Boba Fett in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” has died. The retired English actor was 75. The news was first announced on fan site Fantha Tracks following a Facebook post by U.K.-based convention organizer Jason Griffiths, a friend of Bulloch’s.
While Bulloch remains best known as the actor behind the suit in the second two films of the original trilogy, he also cameoed in other “Star Wars” properties, including in “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” as Captain Colton, a Clone Wars era pilot with a long record of service in the Royal House of Alderaan. The actor got his start on TV shows, such as “Billy Bunter of Greyfriars School” and “The Newcomers,” and though he wore the original Boba Fett costume — giving the bounty hunter an eerie stillness that implied more menace than was ever actually demonstrated on screen — his role was voiced by Jason Wingreen originally. Fett was the first Mandalorian character introduced in the saga, and the idea that you might not often see under his helmet comes from him. (In the updated versions of the original films, Wingreen was dubbed over by Temuera Morrison, who now plays Boba Fett on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian” series.)
Bulloch, in his only non-masked appearance in the original films, was also cast as an Imperial officer (identified eventually as Lieutenant Sheckil) in “The Empire Strikes Back.” To play the mostly silent Boba Fett, Bulloch drew inspiration from Clint Eastwood’s stoic Man with No Name, the antihero from Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy.” It is a performance of remarkable physicality despite the character’s limited screentime — his slow gait (enhanced with the sound of spurs via foley) and deliberate turns of his helmet, gave the effect of a villain who’s remarkably controlled. You don’t need to see the violence he could mete out. Simply knowing he’s capable of it is good enough.
Bulloch also had roles in James Bond classics, such as “For Your Eyes Only,” “Octopussy,” and “The Spy Who Loved Me.” His last onscreen appearance was in the 2015 documentary “Elstree 1976” about the making of the 1977 “Star Wars.”
The news comes less than three weeks after the death of David Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” movies. Bulloch and Prowse were indicative of what a phenomenon “Star Wars” became that unknown British actors called upon for roles that required them to be completely covered under a mask and armor ended up as fan convention superstars, commanding autograph fees.
Bulloch’s death follows the introduction of Fett as a force to be reckoned with on “The Mandalorian” two weeks ago. Played by Morrison, who also portrayed Jango Fett in “Attack of the Clones,” he finally unleashed the explosive violence that had only been left to viewers’ imaginations since Bulloch’s tantalizing first appearance as the character 40 years earlier. Without Bulloch and Prowse showing how expressive an actor can be behind a mask, it’s doubtful “The Mandalorian” would be possible.
Mark Newbold at Fantha Tracks helped confirm the news to IndieWire.
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. pic.twitter.com/Wekhv3rxqN
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 17, 2020
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.
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 17, 2020
— Boba Fett Fan Club (@bobafettfanclub) December 17, 2020
RIP to Jeremy Bulloch who not only played Boba Fett in Empire and Jedi but who was also the Imperial Officer that Lando sabotages on Bespin, as well as Captain Colton in ROTS. No one has ever made a single nod look so cool. pic.twitter.com/ETQx0q15IY
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) December 17, 2020
Jeremy Bulloch made a huge impression in a very short time as Bobba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back. The cult that sprung up around the iconic movie villain lead to The Mandalorian. A fine actor elsewhere including in Dr Who & For Your Eyes Only. RIP #JeremyBulloch #BobbaFett pic.twitter.com/jkBDwdiVQi
— JONATHAN SOTHCOTT (@sothcott) December 17, 2020