Michael Culver, “Star Wars” actor memorably dispatched by Darth Vader, dies at 85

The British actor and activist played Captain Needa in "The Empire Strikes Back," and learned the hard way what happens when you fail Vader.

Michael Culver, the British actor and antiwar activist who played a small but indelible role as an Imperial officer ruthlessly dispatched by Darth Vader in the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, died Feb. 27 at 85.

Alliance Agents announced the news Tuesday, paying tribute to a career "spanning over 50 years with notable roles in Sherlock Holmes, A Passage to India, Secret Army and of course one of the most memorable death scenes in the Star Wars franchise." A cause of death was not disclosed.

Culver portrayed Captain Needa in The Empire Strikes Back, who learns the hard way what happens when you fail Darth Vader. In a fan-favorite scene, Needa apologizes to Vader for losing track of a group of rebel soldiers and is promptly Force-choked to death.

"Apology accepted, Captain Needa," Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) says with casual cruelty.

<p>Lucasfilm</p> Michael Culver in 'The Empire Strikes Back'


Michael Culver in 'The Empire Strikes Back'

Born in Hampstead, north London, Culver grew up in a theater family. Per the Guardian, he was the first son of West End actor Roland Culver and casting director Daphne Rye, and trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

His extensive TV and film credits also included Thunderball, The Avengers, Goodbye Mr. Chips, From Russia With Love, The Adventures of Black Beauty, Squadron, Cadfel, and Wallander.

Alliance noted that Culver largely gave up acting in the early 2000s "to concentrate his efforts into his political activism."

The agency added, "It's been an honor to have represented Michael for the last decade and to have taken him to some of the best Star Wars events in the UK and Europe. 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."

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