Jeremy Bulloch has died. A British actor best known for his work in the Star Wars franchise—where he embodied iconic bounty hunter Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi—Bulloch was a prolific performer on the U.K.’s stage and screen. A noted collector of Star Wars memorabilia, and a regular on the convention scene, he died on Thursday following several years of living with Parkinson’s Disease. Bulloch was 75.
Bulloch originally came up through British children’s entertainment and soap operas, scoring an early win with The Newcomers in 1965 before popping up in small film roles, or with the occasional appearance on Doctor Who. (He played two different parts in the long-running franchise, a feat he’d repeat with the James Bond movies a few years later.) Bouncing between film, TV, and theater, Bulloch spent the 1970s living a fairly standard-seeming version of the working actor’s life—until, in 1979, a non-speaking performance in the sequel to an unlikely sci-fi blockbuster altered the trajectory of his life.
In Bulloch’s own words, he only even got the Boba Fett call on something of a fluke; his half-brother Robert Watts was an associate producer on the film, and suggested he put in for the part—and, wouldn’t you know it, the already-crafted suit fit. In fact, Bulloch wasn’t even the one who originated the character, who originally appeared, in animated form, in The Star Wars Holiday Special, while his voice in Empire was provided by prolific character actor Jason Wingreen. But his sinister, helmeted cool, and menacing, Western-inspired body language quickly made Fett a fan favorite—and when George Lucas’ Special Editions re-injected Star Wars fandom directly back into the public consciousness in the mid-1990s, Bulloch’s performance was front and center, elevating his profile significantly. Apparently bemused and delighted by his unexpected entry into the sci-fi cult canon, Bulloch embraced his newfound celebrity, becoming a fixture of fan conventions, traveling the world, and collecting the toys and pictures fans enjoyed gifting him.
In the meantime, he continued to work and act regularly—because, to be fair, it’s not like his most high-profile gig had given him an especially typecast face. Bulloch continued to appear in British shows like the 1984 Robin Hood series, 1994's Sloggers, and more, before finally getting to show his actual mien in a Star Wars movie in 2005's Revenge Of The Sith, where he played a starship pilot.
Bulloch stopped appearing at fan conventions in 2018, as the symptoms of his Parkinson’s Disease worsened. On his website, he wrote this at the time:
It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to stop attending conventions and hang up the Fett helmet. It has not been an easy decision to make. 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. It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to inspire so many generations of Star Wars fans. I have had over 20 years of travelling with my wife Maureen to some amazing countries and have met so many wonderful fans. Thank you all so much and we will miss you all.