Today in Sad: Legendary Sword Master For ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Princess Bride’ Has Died
Chances are you don’t know his name or recognize his face but you’ve seen his work and sat in awe of its beauty. Bob Anderson is the man behind many of our favorite sword fights in movie history and sadly, he passed away yesterday at the age of 89.
To begin with, Anderson trained with legendary swashbuckler Errol Flynn and that in itself would give anyone some serious badass credentials, but for Anderson that was only the beginning. He was David Prowse‘s stunt double in The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi. Yes, there’s another name to add the the long list of men inside Darth Vader’s suit, and Anderson was the one responsible for the cool shit involving lightsabers.
Mark Hamill eventually revealed this in an 1983 interview, saying,
Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George I didn’t think it was fair any more. 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.
Anderson was also the fight choreographer for Highlander, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Princess Bride and he’s listed as “Sword Master” for The Mask of Zorro, The Legend of Zorro, Die Another Day, and The Phantom. He’s even credited with a role in a 1968 episode of Doctor Who, “The Enemy of the World” as “Fighting Guard” and he did uncredited stuntwork for Superman II.
Most recently, Anderson was the Sword Master for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as the upcoming Hobbit films. According to TheLordOfTheRings.net, Anderson, “developed sparring methods based on Tolkien’s descriptions of each culture.”
He appeared in the 2009 documentary, Reclaiming the Blade, which focused on the cinematic choreography of swordsmanship. The doc was narrated by John Rhys-Davies and in it Viggo Mortenson shares his experience of training with the master swordsman for his role of Aragorn for the LotR’s trilogy. Watch of clip of Anderson and Mortenson from Reclaiming the Blade below.
Anderson, who was also an Olympic fencer for Great Britain, will be fondly remembered for his mastery of swordplay and his uncanny ability to train actors to look like they too were masters of the sword. We nerds owe him a debt of gratitude for making our sci-fi and fantasy heroes appear like the badasses with blades we believed they were, and for that we’re so thankful.
He will truly be missed, but the wonderful thing about movies is your work is immortal, forever available for future generations. Below are some clips from famous fight scenes Anderson made possible.