Erik Bauersfeld, the actor who provided the voice to the beloved Star Wars character Admiral Ackbar in a pair of films, died Sunday at his Berkeley, California home. He was 93. Bauersfeld’s manager confirmed the actor’s death to The Hollywood Reporter.
Although best remembered for voicing Ackbar – his exclamation “It’s a trap!” in Return of the Jedi has been reborn as a popular meme – Bauersfeld also voiced the character of Bib Fortuna in Jedi. Bauersfeld later lent his vocal talents to Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. In 2015, he reprised his vocal turn as Ackbar for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“The fans who write say they’ll never forget ‘It’s a trap!’ I don’t even remember how I said it,” Bauersfeld, a longtime Bay Area radio dramatist, told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2011. At that time, the actor revealed he’d never seen the original Star Wars and hadn’t watched Return of the Jedi since 1983. “It’s not that I don’t like it or don’t respect it. I just don’t have time to be a fan and see it 10 times or 20 times.”
Despite the small role, Bauersfeld said he still received weekly fan mail from diehard Star Wars fans asking for autographs. For the role of Ackbar, Bauersfeld said he received no direction from sound technician Ben Burtt and simply based his voice on the character’s odd, crustacean-like appearance. “I went over, he showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it,” Bauersfeld said. “I saw the face, and I knew what he must sound like.” The whole Ackbar role took him less than an hour to record.