Richard Bonehill, an expert fencer, horseman, stunt double and actor who appeared in several roles in the original Star Wars trilogy, passed away Wednesday in England. He was 67.
The Truro Fencing Club in Cornwall, where Bonehill worked as a head coach until 2007 and as president of the club until his death, announced his passing via their Twitter page. No details were given, but the club noted that his death was "sudden." Bonehill made quite a mark on the fencing world, including working with Truro to groom three world-class fencers for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, but he also made a mark in film during a 30-year career as character actor, stunt double and sword master.
According to IMDB, Bonehill's film debut was in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, in which he's credited with multiple roles, including a stormtrooper, a snowtrooper and a rebel soldier. In a 2006 interview, he called playing a stormtrooper his favorite part of working on Star Wars.
"Over the years I have become very attached and proud to have been a snowtrooper and stormtrooper," Bonehill said. "The stormtrooper really has become an iconic symbol of the Empire, so I would pick him as my favorite character."
Bonehill returned to the Star Wars universe for 1983's Return of the Jedi and again played multiple roles, including a stormtrooper, a Mon Calamari alien and, of course, Nien Nunb, the Sullustan smuggler who co-piloted the Millennium Falcon alongside Lando Calrissian in the film's climactic space battle. His other credits as an actor include Highlander, Rob Roy and 11 episodes of Doctor Who.
Bonehill also used his talents as a fencer and horseman to work as a sword master, fight double and riding double on a number of productions. His credits in those areas include films like Robinson Crusoe, Highlander, The Man in the Iron Mask, Prince Valiant and 1998's The Avengers. He was never a blockbuster star, but he left his mark on movie history, and we'll always remember him for helping bring down the second Death Star.