Richard Miller, a sculptor at Industrial Light & Magic, died earlier in the week at the age of 80, a handful of days after his birthday. Per the Hollywood Reporter, he passed after an extended stay in hospice care. Fon H. Davis, one of Miller’s colleagues, later confirmed the news on Instagram, writing that he was “ grateful to have had the opportunity to work, laugh, and be grumpy, at times, with him. […] Hug your friends today.”
“With his artistic skill in evidence, an agreeable demeanour and a wry sense of humour, Richard fit right in from the start and became a fixture at ILM,” wrote ILM in a statement to the Reporter. “Richard will be dearly missed by the entire ILM family, but his artistic contribution lives on in each of the films he contributed to and in the fond memories of all who knew him.”
Richard Miller, ILMer, sculptor extraordinaire, and super nice guy, has left us. He sculpted Leila’s bikini, and Davy Jone’s beard, and a thousand amazing things in between. Rest in peace Richard. pic.twitter.com/jxdUwnAAg6
— Hal Hickel (@halhickel) December 10, 2022
Miller first joined ILM in 1981 ahead of 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and his most famous contribution to that film was Princess Leia’s gold bikini. Following that film, he would contribute to 55 movies over the span of 30 years, and his credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the original Jumanji, and Willow. He even had a hand in Ang Lee’s Hulk movie from 2003. Since the 2000s, Miller had been a teacher at ILM, serving a sculpting teacher for aspiring prop makers.
During his time with ILM, Miller had contributed to several franchises; he worked on all three Star Wars prequels, both Star Trek: First Contact and Generations, and the original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. During the Pirates franchise, he created the tentacled beard for Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones, with Dead Man’s Chest winning an Academy Award for its visual effects. His final film as a sculptor, according to IMDB, was 2007’s Evan Almighty, and he contributed to prop design for the 2021 short film Mila.
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