Unsung Heroes

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This page celebrates the behind-the-scenes people that made the Star Wars saga awesome. For the list of Patreon supporters that Pete reads each week on SWM:WE, see Roll Call of Heroes.
This list is obviously far from exhaustive, but it is meant to feature those highlighted on the show.

Leigh Brackett

Screenwriter extraordinaire, Leigh Brackett authored the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. Pete occasionally sprinkled in excerpts from it during their coverage of the movie with humorous results. Alex became so attached to these little vignettes that he brings her up whenever an early draft is mentioned, even for movies that were filmed after her death.

Ben Burtt

The "Savant of Sound Design"[1] is a nickname that we should probably start using when talking about Ben Burtt. On all the Star Wars Movies, up to an including The Force Awakens, Burtt always found the perfect sound to elevate the level of the production. He also appears on screen in Return of the Jedi (playing Colonel Dyer) and in The Phantom Menace (as EQ3, who has an extremely elaborate backstory written by Burtt himself). If only he could come up with a sound for the silent 't' at the end of his name.

Lawrence Kasdan

Another "force for good"[3] in the Star Wars Universe. Lawrence Kasdan completed the screenplay for The Empire Strikes Back after the sad death of Leigh Brackett and wrote the screenplay for Return of the Jedi. We can only assume that Lucas made Luke and Leia siblings while Kasdan was at lunch. He was also a writing consultant for Episode VII.

Irvin Kershner

As a director, Irvin "The Kersh" Kershner was the "fixer" who came in and made The Empire Strikes Back as great as it was. He was famous for letting his actors improvise (which Lucas was not generally a fan of). Like 'Colonel' Kurtz, he wasn't afraid to stand up to George in the name of artistic filmmaking. He granted us the honor of returning from the dead (joined by Sir Alec Guinness) to talk about James Bond on Never Say Never Again Minute.

Matt Gourley does an amazing Kershner impression, which was first (briefly) heard on the podcast during ROTJ 79, and heard in TPM 27 in its full glory.

Gary Kurtz

Behind every successful, visionary auteur, there is a man to say, "No, George, that's a bad idea." That man is Gary Kurtz. He was producer on Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Many cite the dissolution of the Lucas-Kurtz partnership as being responsible for a decrease in film quality starting with Return of the Jedi.

Marcia Lucas

Marcia was George Lucas's first wife (1969 to 1983) and an Editor (credited) on the trilogy movies. The SWM hosts believe that Marcia was another crucial person behind the scenes as:

  • She was able to keep George in check by saying "No" to some of his bad ideas.
  • Marcia was able to whip the movies into shape in her role as Editor.

Ralph McQuarrie

He was the visionary that brought Star Wars to life in visual images and concept design. Many fans can't think of iconic characters or locales in the Star Wars universe without seeing them as McQuarrie envisioned them.

McQuarrie also portrayed General Pharl McQuarrie in The Empire Strikes Back.

Joe Viskocil

If you needed something blown up, Joe Visckocil was the guy to make that happen. He was head pyrotechnics on the Star Wars movies, and engineered the explosions of Death Stars I and II. Next to Luke Skywalker, he was the greatest killer of innocent Imperial Officers. Sadly, he was taken from us too soon.

John Williams

Not a week goes by that one of the hosts or guests fails to compliment Mr. Williams. He is the Maestro behind all the music in Star Wars, and his choices helped transform Star Wars from a movie into a Saga.

Dennis Muren

As special effects and miniatures artisan, Dennis Muren taught us to dream. And they were good dreams.

Richard Marquand

Marquand is beloved for the character he played in Return of the Jedi, Major Marquand the AT-ST driver. Sadly his character only had a brief moment on screen before he was savagely devoured by those bloodthirsty monsters the Ewoks.
Wait, didn't he also direct a movie or something?

John Mollo

Military uniform history expert turned costume designer, Mollo is responsible for the crisp and consistent look of all the Imperial officers, much to Pete's delight. Sadly, we lost him in 2017.


  1. That's trademarked, buddy![2]
  2. Well, no, not actually. Somebody get on that.
  3. Known to some as "the Ashla" to Rick McCallum's "Bogan"

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