“It’s a trap!”
These words spoken by Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi made Erik Bauersfeld immortal. Once merely referring to the grim circumstances of the fleet, the line has now been featured in meme after meme and in various parodies. It was even the name of one of the Family Guy hourlong Star Wars spoofs, and Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken parodied the character with its “Admiral Ackbar Cereal” sketch. There’s even a smartphone app that allows users to press a button and hear the phrase any time of day. It’s these words fans will always think of fondly now that Bauersfeld has passed away.
The actor died Sunday morning at his home in Berkeley, California, at the age of 93, his manager, Derek Maki, confirmed to THR.
Bauersfeld reprised his famous role in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, though the actor also lent his voice talents to the character of Bib Fortuna, a member of Jabba the Hutt’s staff in Return of the Jedi. Two other non-Star Wars voice work of his include Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence in 2001 and and Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak last year.
Though his resume was brief, he’ll live on through his character. It’s unclear whether Ackbar will return for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII and beyond, but if not, we’ll have some favored spoofs to remember him by.
Bauersfeld, also a radio drama producer who led KPFA’s drama and literature department for many years, spoke with the San Francisco Chronicle about his famous words. As he recalled, Return of the Jedi sound designer Ben Burtt asked him if he wanted to try out for voice roles in the film, knowing of his radio experience. “He showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar and I did it. I just did it…Well, I saw the face and I knew what he must sound like.”
Watch the full interview below:
Our deepest condolences go out to his friends and family.