Menu

Dead at 81: ‘Star Wars’ Actress Who Starred in One of the Saga’s Most Controversial Scenes Has Passed Away

Image combining two scenes: one with a woman and another with a person, both overlaid with a sci-fi space battle involving TIE Fighters shooting green laser beams in a starry backdrop. The composition suggests a mix of human elements and intense space combat.
Credit: Disney Dining

A Star Wars actress who starred in one of the most controversial scenes in the “Skywalker Saga” has died. She was 81 years old.

Disney selling star wars

Credit: Lucasfilm

The Death of a ‘Star Wars’ Actress

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Canadian actress Maria De Aragon kicked off her career in the 1960s, though in small, uncredited roles in various films, including For Those Who Think Young (1964) and Nightmare in the Sun (1965). She landed her first credited role in the Italian cinema, appearing in the 1968 film Come l’amore.

From there, she went on to appear in other films in the early 1970s, including The Cremators (1972), Wonder Woman (1973), and Teenager (1974).

Close-up photograph of a person with dark hair. They have a serious expression, large eyes, and noticeable eyelashes. The background is out of focus, drawing attention to their face and features.

Credit: Lucasfilm

But her most iconic role came in 1977 as part of a brand-new saga created by George Lucas: Star Wars, now titled Star Wars: A New Hope, the fourth installment in the Skywalker Saga, starring Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill.

In the blockbuster film Star Wars: Episode IV, De Aragon donned a mask and played the role of Greedo, the bounty hunter shot by Harrison Ford’s Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina.

Three characters from a well-known science fiction film, dressed in space-themed attire, look up excitedly. One has shaggy hair and wears an orange jumpsuit, another with long hair and a white dress, and the third with a vest and light shirt. A yellow ladder is behind them.

“Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977)/Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Her management company, Coolwater Productions, announced her passing on June 1, saying in part:

Coolwaters Productions LLC is sad to report that our client, Ms. Maria de ‘Aragon, the actress who helped bring the character of Greedo to life in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” has passed away. Our hearts are saddened, and we wish her family the very best, and we thank all her “Star Wars” fans for years of support.

De Aragon reportedly died in late April of natural causes at a nursing home, though her death was not reported until this week.

An Uncredited ‘Star Wars’ Role That Lives in Infamy

De Aragon’s role as Greedo surprised some fans, as the actress is female, but she portrayed a male character, something that wasn’t as common in the 1970s. And because her face is never seen in the film, some fans never knew exactly who played the role of the bounty hunter in the film.

But per Star Wars.com, the character is one that didn’t hold much importance with his peers in the storyline:

Greedo was a Rodian bounty hunter with a tapir-like snout, bulbous eyes, pea-green skin, and a crest of spines atop his skull. He was overzealous and a bit slow on the take, not to mention a pretty poor shot with a blaster. Though he fancied himself a big time bounty hunter in the employ of no less an underworld figure than Jabba the Hutt, in truth, no one took him too seriously.

At first glance, the role of Greedo in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977) is a small one. The role was so small, in fact, that even some Star Wars enthusiasts might find it difficult to place the late actress, Maria De Aragon, in the role, but it’s not because of a shortcoming on De Aragon’s part. Rather, it’s because the actress’s involvement in the film was uncredited.

A close-up of an alien character with green, scaly skin and large, round, reflective eyes, wearing a textured, green headpiece. The background is slightly blurred, revealing another person in a white outfit. The setting appears to be dimly lit and indoors.

Greedo in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977)/Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Per De Aragon’s management company, Coolwater Productions, LLC, George Lucas wasn’t pleased with the original footage of one of the scenes in the film that features Greedo.

Maria shot her role as Greedo in Los Angeles, California, after the principal photography in London, UK, was finished, and George Lucas was not happy with the way the original footage turned out. The character needed to seem more animated. In the close-ups of Greedo speaking, Maria donned the creature mask, creating the memorable face to face confrontation with Han Solo. Maria has expressed during many Q&A panels that when asked, “What do you think of Harrison Ford?” she would respond, “He kills me” (with a laugh).

But that face-to-face confrontation with Han Solo is part of one of the Skywalker Saga‘s most controversial scenes, which is amusing as it’s also the film’s simplest scene–one in which two characters are seated at a table, taking it easy before attempting to take each other’s lives:

The scene occurs about 50 minutes into the film, shortly after we’re introduced to Harrison Ford’s cucumber-cool smuggler Han Solo. Han is pressed into a diner booth by the bounty hunter Greedo. Greedo points a gun at him, explaining that he’s here to collect on Han’s debts to local crime lord Jabba the Hutt.

Han stalls for time, all the while suavely unholstering his pistol. Then, like a coiled snake, he strikes, shooting dead his unsightly foe. The scene was everything you needed to know about Han Solo. He was no saint, no hero. This was a man who would shoot first and look cool doing it. At least, that’s how it looked if you were watching it in 1977.

A character dressed in a white shirt, black vest, and blue pants aims a blaster pistol while standing in an industrial or spaceship environment, evoking a tense and action-packed scene.

Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

But twenty years after the film’s release, the scene didn’t appear like that.

A George Lucas-Inspired Change Sends Fans Into Orbit

In 1997, George Lucas supervised a digital remastering of the original Star Wars trilogy. He also revised the re-release of the film. Most of the changes made by George Lucas were seen as fairly benign–though unnecessary–by fans. Among those changes were the restoration of a previously deleted scene that featured a CGI-rendered Jabba the Hutt and the addition of some added pizazz to exploding planets.
Light and Magic

George Lucas and members of his Industrial Light and Magic team/Credit: Lucasfilm

But, one of the changes made by Lucas didn’t sit well with fans:

The fateful meeting between Han and Greedo was changed to exonerate Han of all wrongdoing. Han no longer “shot first”. Instead, his alien foe somehow missed a shot from near-point-blank range, giving him the chance to rapidly fire in retaliation. Responses to the change ranged from diffident shrugs to incandescent rage: for some fans, this was a betrayal not just of the sanctity of the original film, but of Han’s very character.

The backlash ballooned into one of the biggest fan-vs-creator debates of all time. In the process, it laid the template for a new era of tortured battles between fans and creators, from “Ghostbusters” to “Justice League.”

Subsequent re-edits of the film have tinkered with the details. A 2004 DVD release saw the two gunmen shoot almost simultaneously; the 2019 version added in some incomprehensible dialogue in which Greedo can be heard saying a gibberish word that many fans heard as “maclunkey”. The whole matter of “who shot who first and how” has become so muddied, it’d take an expert Cluedo player to get to the bottom of it.

A woman with dark hair, smiling, wearing a light-colored turtleneck and a patterned scarf. The background is dark, and partially visible is a poster with some text.

Credit: Star Wars Underworld

As such, De Aragon’s biggest role, which was never credited to her, has become the center point of one of the Star Wars saga’s most controversial and divisive scenes.

De Aragon’s Cause of Death

De Aragon is said to have died from natural causes at a skilled nursing facility in her native Canada in late April 2024, though no specifics about her passing or what contributed to it have been noted.

We extend our condolences and deepest sympathy to Ms. De Aragon’s family, friends, and fans and wish them comfort in the coming days.

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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.