While Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to break box office records, an actor whose minor part turned into a major contribution in the Star Wars franchise’s original series has passed away: Jason Wingreen, who provided the voice for bounty hunter Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back, died Christmas Day at his Los Angeles home, the actor’s son confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 95.
Wingreen, who also auditioned for the voice role of Yoda, recorded only four lines of dialogue for the Empire Strikes Back part, but the masked, mysterious Boba Fett became a favorite of Star Wars fans over the ensuing decades; much of George Lucas’ prequels are devoted to the character’s backstory and genealogy.
“I think the actual work, aside from the hellos and goodbyes and all that, could have been no more than 10 minutes,” Wingreen once said of the role. Wingreen did not garner an onscreen credit for the role– it wasn’t until around 2000 that he was even acknowledged with providing Fett’s voice – and THR writes that Wingreen received no residuals from the part, even though some of the early Boba Fett action figures used his voice. A rare Boba Fett figurine recently sold for nearly $7,000 at auction.
Boba Fett also landed at Number Three on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 50 Best Star Wars Characters, ahead of franchise cornerstones like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2 and Yoda, the role Wingreen lost out on.
When Lucas rereleased the original Star Wars films with added footage – like the controversial “Greedo shot first” sequence – he replaced Wingreen’s dialogue with newly recorded lines by actor Temuera Morrison, who played Boba’s father Jango Fett in the prequels.
In addition to his small but notable work on Star Wars, Wingreen’s career also featured a long guest turn as bartender Harry Snowden on All in the Family, plus one-off roles on shows like Seinfeld, Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.