Star Wars actor Michael Culver dies aged 85

13 March 2024, 14:08 | Updated: 13 March 2024, 14:18

Michael Culver played Captain Needa
Michael Culver played Captain Needa. Picture: Lucasfilm/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Star Wars actor Michael Culver has died aged 85.

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Culver was best known for playing Captain Needa in Empire Strikes Back, who was force choked to death by Darth Vader after failing to locate Han Solo's Millennium Falcon.

He was also known for appearing in a Sherlock Holmes TV series, a film adaption of E M Forster's A Passage to India and the 1970s version of Persuasion, based on Jane Austen's novel.

The British actor's agency said that he died on February 27 at home.

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Actor Michael Culver in a scene from TV series Secret Army
Actor Michael Culver in a scene from TV series Secret Army. Picture: Getty

"We are very sad to confirm the passing of our friend and client Michael Culver," Alliance Agents said.

"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.

"Michael largely gave up acting in the early 2000's to concentrate his efforts into his political activism.

"It's been an honour to have represented Michael for 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.

"We worked with Michael just 3 weeks ago at his last home signing with our friends at Elite Signatures.

"Michael died on Tuesday 27th February at the age of 85. We miss him."

Culver gave up acting to concentrate his efforts on political activism.
Culver gave up acting to concentrate his efforts on political activism. Picture: Getty

Culver began his career in theatre before taking on his first uncredited film role in 1963 - a brief appearance in James Bond film From Russia With Love.

He also played a Vulcan bomber crewman in Thunderball.

Following his acting career, Culver's campaigning included working with Wolf Hall actor Sir Mark Rylance to honour the late peace campaigner Brian Haw.

Mr Haw, who died in 2011 aged 62 of lung cancer, spent nearly 10 years camped outside Parliament fighting off attempts to force him to move while protesting against British military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sir Mark and Culver began, along with friends, a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money to have a small statue of Mr Haw facing the Imperial War Museum in London.