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British ‘Star Wars’ Actor With a More Than 50-Year Career Dead at 85

empire strikes back
Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm/Canva

A Star Wars actor who taught fans just how far Darth Vader was willing to go to punish those who failed him has died. He was 85.

British actor Michael Culver was born on June 16, 1938, and died on February 27 at the age of 85. While he had multiple acting credits to his name, having held roles on television, on the stage, and on the big screen for more than 50 years, one of Culver’s most memorable roles was one of his smaller ones.

michael culver as captain needa

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

One of Culver’s Most Memorable Roles

Culver, originally of Hampstead, North London, notoriously played the small but important role of Captain Lorth Needa in the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Captain Needa was an Imperial officer dispatched by Darth Vader in the film, and in perhaps his most memorable scene in the film, Needa apologizes to Darth Vader after he loses track of a team of rebel soldiers.

Vader instantly Force-chokes the Imperial officer to death before uttering the infamous words, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa,” with his signature casual approach to violence and punishment.

Culver’s Background and Filmography

According to The Guardian, Michael Culver grew up in a family that was well-versed in the theater. He was the first son of actor Roland Culver and casting director Daphne Rye. He was formally trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

His acting career spanned more than five decades. His TV and film credits are extensive and include ThunderballThe New AvengersGoodbye Mr. ChipsFrom Russia With LoveThe Adventures of Black BeautySquadronCadfel, and Wallander.

michael culver

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

News of his passing was announced this week by Alliance Agents, which noted some of Culver’s additional acting credits, including Sherlock HolmesA Passage to India, and Secret Army. His cause of death was not mentioned in the announcement.

The agency said, “It’s been an honor to have represented Michael for the last decade and to have taken him to some of the best Star Wars events in the UK and Europe. A real highlight was taking Michael to Celebration in Chicago in 2019. He was lost for words when he saw his queue line with nearly 200 people waiting to see him.”

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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