"Star Wars" has lost one of its prominent figures. Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual designer who's responsible for creating the look of Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca, died this past Saturday, March 3 in his home in Berkeley, California after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. Director George Lucas was quick to pay a tribute.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man," the 67-year-old filmmaker wrote on the official Star Wars website. "Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy."
"When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this,' " he continued to remember McQuarrie. "Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists - all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed."
"Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry."
Lucas ended his statement by noting, "In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come." Still, he added some personal touch as writing, "Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator."
Also reacting to news of McQuarrie's passing was Anthony Daniels. The actor, who played C-3PO in all six "Star Wars" films, wrote on his Twitter, "Ralph McQuarrie is dead. Without his inspirational art I would not be C-3PO. I once said to him, 'This is all YOUR fault!' Then I thanked him."
Other Hollywood stars expressing their condolences included Simon Pegg, Will Smith and Elijah Wood. Pegg tweeted, "RIP Ralph McQuarrie, an extraordinary artist whose work fueled my dreams, fantasies and imagination. His paintings will live forever," Smith wrote, "RIP Ralph McQuarrie, the visionary behind Star Wars," and Wood said, "a disturbance in the force, Ralph McQuarrie has passed. may the force be with him."
In the wake of McQuarrie's passing, a statement was posted on his official site. "His influence on design will be felt forever," it partly read. "There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say...'that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted.' "
Aside from his collaboration with Lucas on "Star Wars", McQuarrie also helped to create concept designs for the original series of "Battlestar Galactica", and such movies as "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". He also won an Academy Award for visual effects for his work on the 1985 film, "Cocoon".