Michael Culver, ‘Star Wars’ Actor With Iconic Death Scene, Dies at 85

Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty
Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty

Actor Michael Culver, who suffered one of the most iconic on-screen deaths in the Star Wars franchise, died at the age of 85. Culver passed away on Feb. 27, according to a statement from his agency.

Culver’s career spanned more than five decades, but he was perhaps best known for his role as Captain Needa in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

In the 1980 classic, Culver’s character flies to villain Darth Vader, ready to apologize and take responsibility for losing track of the rebels. The scene cuts, and we see Culver doubled over gasping for breath before collapsing on the floor, a victim of Vader’s Force-choking. “Apology accepted, Captain Needa,” the villain drawls.

The iconic scene has become a fixture in the film series, and the character of Captain Needa has remained a fan favorite.

The British actor was born in London in 1938. He began acting on television in 1961, with notable appearances in the BBC’s 1970s drama series Secret Army and mystery series Cadfael in the 1990s. He also appeared in several films, including Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969) and A Passage to India (1984).

During the Iraq War, Culver began supporting anti-war protester Brian Haw, who camped out in demonstration of the conflict in Parliament Square. In 2023, Culver helped campaign for a statue of Haw to be erected in south London.

His agency, Alliance Agents, said in a statement that it had been an “honour” to represent Culver and connect him with Star Wars fans around the world.

“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,” the agency said.

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