Oscar-Winning Director, Designer in “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” Dead at 89

Indiana Jones running from boulder
Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

Oscar-winning art director and production designer for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Norman Reynolds, has died, Lucasfilm confirms. He was 89.

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Reynolds was a native of the United Kingdom and made monumental contributions to all three of the Star Wars trilogy films. He worked as an art director on Star Wars: A New Hope and worked as a production designer on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Reynolds also worked closely with John Barry, the overall production designer for Star Wars: A New Hope, and helped to create the “core design philosophy” used in Star Wars architecture and construction, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Reynolds and Barry then joined Leslie Dilley, an art director on the Star Wars projects, and set decorator Roger Christian as Academy Award winners in 1978 in the category of Art Direction. For The Empire Strikes Back, John Barry worked on directing, while Norman Reynolds was named production designer.

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“The Empire Strikes Back”/Credit: Disney/Lucasfilm

“His contributions to the first entries of the ‘Star Wars’ saga and ‘Indiana Jones’ series helped set the standard for the look of these beloved stories that has inspired generations of film designers,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Reynolds was the brains behind one of the most iconic scenes from the initial Indiana Jones film:

“[Reynolds’] work also included the creation of the giant boulder from which Indy runs as it rolls down a temple passage. Reynolds was quoted as saying that it was Spielberg who kept asking for it to be bigger. Raiders delivered Reynolds his second Academy Award for art direction in 1982 alongside art director Dilley and set decorator Michael Ford.

In addition to ‘Raiders,’ he worked with Spielberg as production designer on ‘Empire of the Sun,’ for which he was also Oscar-nominated.”

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Credit: Disney

“Norman was always smiling with enthusiasm, and there was nothing he couldn’t make work,” said Steven Spielberg in a statement. “Joyful and friendly and a massive talent.”

“Frank and I were shattered at the news of Norman’s passing this weekend,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. “Norman was an exceptional person to work with. Our thoughts are with his family.”

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!