'Lord of the Rings' & 'Star Wars' Swordsman Bob Anderson Has Died

January 2, 2012

Bob Anderson

At some point in their lives, pretty much everyone on the planet has pretended to wield a sword, lightsaber or some kind of deadly blade in an epic battle to the death. However, Olympic fencer Bob Anderson actually handled swords in real-life as an Olympic fencer and one of the foremost sword-fighting trainers and choreographers in cinema. Sadly, we must report a tragic loss at the beginning of 2012 as reports that Anderson, who has worked on such iconic films as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the original Star Wars trilogy, passed away early this morning at a hospital in the UK.

Anderson's career started nearly 60 years ago when he staged fights for the 1952 Errol Flynn film The Master Of Ballantrae. However, he would go on to choreograph fight scenes in films like From Russia With Love and Die Another Day, The Legend Of Zorro, and The Princess Bride. In his work on Lord of the Rings, it has been said that Anderson crafted several different fighting styles for the various cultures in Tolkien's Middle-Earth, working from the author's descriptions of the characters in the novels. Here's some cut footage from a documentary called Reclaiming the Blade (which you can actually watch on Netflix Instant), in which Viggo Mortensen speaks of the swordsman with the utmost respect:

But perhaps the most honorable achievement in Anderson's career on film is his work on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Not only did Anderson choreograph the iconic lightsaber battles in George Lucas' sci-fi saga, but Mark Hamill finally revealed it was Anderson behind the mask of Darth Vader during those key fight scenes. The actor said, "Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told [George Lucas] I didn't think it was fair anymore. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It's ridiculous to preserve the myth that it's all done by one man." So the next time you watch those two sequels, know that there's an amazing swordsman coming down on Luke Skywalker, and he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.

Find more posts: Movie News, Obituaries



...where's the tragedy? He was old, it was his time to die. There's no reason to make out like this was a life filled with the potential for greatness that went unrealized; this guy established a niche and made his mark very clearly in his field. It's unnecessary to try to sensationalize his death.

Ben Roth on Jan 2, 2012


Recognizing someone's achievements in life is not saying his potential went unrealized, and nor is it sensationalizing his death.   

Chazzy on Jan 2, 2012


wow, you are a sad individual. are you really upset someone used the word tragedy. you will be remembered as someone without a life that felt it necessary to argue with articles on this website.

gordy on Jan 2, 2012


Sensationalizing his death? Try celebrating his life and contributions to cinema in some of the most iconic and popular films ever made. It's sad when anyone passes away, let alone someone whose work helped define the things that you love.

Ethan Anderton on Jan 2, 2012


Rip,that's some CV. 

tir na nog on Jan 2, 2012


Thank you for recognizing his life, FS.

Kylegallagher on Jan 2, 2012


RIP - What a career!

dom on Jan 2, 2012


R.I.P-passion personified!

esophus on Jan 2, 2012


He created swordplay for Star Wars and LotR.  Even I would die happy if I accomplished that.  No need to mourn here, this is actually a happy passing 🙂

LW on Jan 2, 2012

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