- "This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it."
- ―Conan Antonio Motti
Conan Antonio Motti was a human male admiral in the Imperial Navy who served as a naval chief for much of the reign of the Galactic Empire. Born to an influential and wealthy family on the Outer Rim world of Seswenna, Motti became a highly decorated starship captain. He quickly rose through the ranks of flag officers and was serving as a naval chief by 14 BBY, representing the Navy on the Joint Chiefs.
By the early stages of the Galactic Civil War, he had been elevated to the position of Chief of the Imperial Navy, directing the operations of the starfleet. Motti was a staunch believer in the capabilities of the Death Star, viewing it as invulnerable and dismissive of the Rebel Alliance's purported threat to the station. His confidence led to confrontations with colleagues such as General Cassio Tagge and even Darth Vader; during a Joint Chiefs meeting, Motti's outbursts chastising the Dark Lord's failures led to him being force choked. Nevertheless, Motti bristled at the episode and formally protested Vader's actions.
Motti's ambitions that grew in the wake of the battle station's completion were short-lived. The Rebel Alliance—which had obtained a copy of the Death Star plans—discovered a weak spot in the station's defenses, and successfully exploited it, leading to the death of Admiral Motti and everyone else on the station.
Early life and career
- "Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebel's hidden fort…"
- ―Motti, before being Force choked by Darth Vader
Conan Antonio Motti was a human male who hailed from a wealthy and powerful family in the Outer Rim. A native of Seswenna, Motti was a naval officer in the Galactic Empire of Sheev Palpatine. He became one of the service's most highly decorated captains and a veteran naval commander, eventually rising to the rank of Rear Admiral with his flag on the Star Destroyer Steel Talon.
By 14 BBY, he was a prominent member of the Joint Chiefs, considered by the Emperor to be a potential candidate for the newly-created position of Grand Moff (which would eventually go to Moff Wilhuff Tarkin). Along with the rest of the Joint Chiefs on Imperial Center, Motti helped coordinate the Imperial response to the rebel campaign of Berch Teller, a disaffected analyst whose cell threatened various Imperial outposts in the Outer Rim Territories. Due to his involvement, as well as the discrediting of the head of Naval Intelligence, Vice Admiral Dodd Rancit, Motti would receive a promotion from the Emperor.
Death Star command
- "Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it."
By 0 BBY, Motti was a full Admiral and held the position of Chief of the Imperial Navy. Having escalated their operations to open warfare, the Alliance to Restore the Republic managed to steal the technical readouts of the Death Star, a planet-destroying battle station. Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, managed to capture the corvette, but was unable to recover the plans themselves. Motti was present at a meeting of the Joint Chiefs on the battlestation, where he argued with General Cassio Tagge of the Imperial Army over the effectiveness of the Death Star and the threat of the Rebellion. While Motti held that the superweapon was invincible, Tagge was conscious of the Alliance's military threat and argued the movement would continue to gain sympathy in the Imperial Senate. However, the two were interrupted by Grand Moff Tarkin, who informed the officers present that the Senate had been recently dissolved by the Emperor himself.
Though Darth Vader—who had recently arrived to interrogate Princess Leia Organa—admitted that the plans were in the hands of the Rebellion, he proclaimed that soon the Empire would have them. Motti then boasted of the Death Star's power, claiming that it was the ultimate power in the galaxy. However, Vader rebutted this claim, warning Motti not to underestimate the power of the Force. Arrogance clouding his judgment, Motti mocked Vader, insulting his devotion to the Force, alleging that it had not helped him recover the stolen Death Star plans or locate the Rebels' hidden base. In response, Vader simply Force choked him while rebuking him for his "lack of faith", relenting only at Tarkin's protest. Motti slumped across the conference table, gasping for breath and considerably unnerved. Nevertheless, he later submitted a sharply worded incident report criticizing what he characterized as Vader's attempt at religious proselytization, further stressing his confidence and his pride in the battle station.
The Admiral supervised the final checkout of the station, confirming to Tarkin that the station was fully operational. Shortly thereafter, Motti approached the Grand Moff in private, once again expressing the extraordinary capabilities of the station. This time, he noted that ultimate power in the universe now rested with Tarkin, in command of the Death Star. Motti pointed out that the Grand Moff could, if willing, assume a position of authority in the Empire second only to the Emperor—subtly suggesting that he himself could serve with Tarkin. For his part, Tarkin regarded Motti's words as near treasonous and rejected the overture, though the ambitious Motti was not deterred from the idea.
When the Death Star arrived near Organa's home planet of Alderaan, Motti informed Tarkin prior to Vader's return with the Princess in his possession. Tarkin threatened to destroy the planet if she did not reveal the location of the Alliance's base, and Organa informed them that the base was on Dantooine. Tarkin then ordered the Death Star's superlaser to fire when ready, shocking the princess. He felt that this would be a demonstration that would terrify the rest of the galaxy—fear would keep dissidents in line. A group of Rebels managed to make it aboard the Death Star, and succeeded in freeing Organa from her cell. They then fled in their ship, the Millennium Falcon. Imperial stormtroopers had placed a tracking device aboard the starship earlier, however, and the Empire was able to track the freighter to the Rebel base on a moon of the planet Yavin, which was located in in the Outer Rim.
A battle began between the Imperial and Rebel forces above the Death Star. When several X-wing fighters proved adept at evading the station's defenses, Vader manned his personal TIE fighter and attacked them. He began picking off the surviving fighters one by one, but some officers nevertheless began to worry that the Rebel attack posed a danger. However, the Alliance was aware of a flaw in the Death Star—a small, uncovered thermal exhaust port leading directly to the station's main reactor. Against all odds, and much to Tarkin's surprise, a Rebel X-wing piloted by Luke Skywalker succeeded in flying through the trench where the exhaust port was located, and successfully fired a pair of proton torpedoes into the shaft, causing the Death Star to explode, instantly killing all those on board, Motti included.
Personality and traits
- "Whatever conclusions you ultimately draw about the incident taking place between myself and Lord Vader during yesterday morning's briefing, he was wrong, and trying to crush someone else's windpipe doesn't make you any less wrong, if you're wrong to begin with. Which he was. I do not concede the argument."
- ―An unrepentant Motti after being telekinetically choked by Darth Vader
Motti was loyal to Grand Moff Tarkin and held a rivalry against Vader. His ambition at times overrode his loyalty to the Empire, as evidenced in his approaching Tarkin to use the Death Star in a bid for power—where Motti himself would be at Tarkin's right hand. This ambition was partially borne out of his faith in the Death Star as an instrument of ultimate power; he believed the battle station to be invulnerable and considered that any rebel attack against would be a useless gesture doomed to fail. In this sense, he was vocally critical of views such as those of General Tagge concerning a credible rebel threat, colorfully stating that "the dog nipping at [Tagge's] heels is no threat to my locked and guarded house"—referring to the Death Star. More generally, Motti was dismissive of the rebellion as a whole, viewing the Alliance's military capabilities as nothing more than a "patchwork of X- and Y-wing fighters".
According to Leia Organa, Motti enjoyed one of the largest egos in the galaxy. His arrogance was visible in his condescension towards other high-ranking officers, and in his submission of a lengthy and strongly-worded report on the strangulation incident between him and Darth Vader. Despite having been on the receiving end of the Sith Lord's displeasure, Motti remained unrepentant, insisting that Vader was the one at fault for using violence—a fact Motti interpreted as meaning he'd won the argument. He further insinuated that Vader and Tagge were disloyal to the Empire, the former for putting his faith in the Force over the Death Star and the latter for being overly-concerned with the strength of the Rebellion.
Although Motti himself was personally religious, he was also dismissive of the Force and doubted its very existence. He publicly regarded Darth Vader as a mere sorcerer with a "sad devotion" to an "ancient religion", later justifying his attitude as a response to alleged "workplace proselytization". This nearly resulted in his death when Vader Force-choked him for his insolence.
Behind the scenes
Motti first appeared in the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the first installment of the Star Wars original trilogy. He was played by Richard LeParmentier, who was credited as "General Motti." Motti was originally intended to be an admiral, but as LeParmentier proved to be too tall for the uniform that he was to wear, he was fitted in the uniform of a general and Motti's rank was changed.
Richard LeParmentier originally auditioned for the role of Han Solo, but lost out to Harrison Ford. He was then offered the role of a customs officer who would try to stop Solo from leaving Mos Eisley. A friend of LeParmentier took the part, but the role was ultimately cut from the film, yet LeParmentier was invited back one month later to read for Motti's part. An American actor, LeParmentier was one of the few non-English actors cast as Imperial officers who spoke without an English accent. During filming, LeParmentier proposed director George Lucas to do his Mid-Atlantic accent for Motti and Lucas accepted. To shoot the scene where Motti gets Force-choked by Darth Vader, LeParmentier spent days practicing choking in his dressing room to make it look convincing until he was able to control and induce spasms in his neck. While filming the scene, LeParmentier had his pants rolled up to his knees and took his boots off along with Don Henderson as it was really hot.
In retrospective, Richard LeParmentier liked to be remembered as Motti, considering that it was an honor to have been part of the Star Wars saga. In his opinion, A New Hope helped him to be offered more roles in some other big movies because it was the most memorable film he had been. LeParmentier was proud of the fact that Motti's Force choke was the first point in the saga that fans saw working the power of The Force, although back at that time, he had no idea if the film was to be as successful as it ultimately turned out. He greatly enjoyed his experience and cited the only inconvenience he faced on set was Motti's boots, as they caused him a considerable amount of foot perspiration. As such, the film's crewmembers would take the boots of the Imperials off and air-dry their feet between shots.
While portraying the character, Richard LeParmentier saw Motti as a trigger-happy military type who was aching to demonstrate the Death Star's power and was resentful to the people who disagreed with him. He played Motti as a sanctimonious and smug character, believing that it was necessary in the contrast with the calm and reasonable Cassio Tagge played by Don Henderson to prompt Darth Vader to use The Force on Motti. By the time of his death in 2013, LeParmentier was producing an animated fan film called Motti Now, in which Motti survives the Battle of Yavin and abandons the Empire. Unfortunately, it's likely that he didn't complete it before his death, as it hasn't been released as of today.
- "See, because Lucas is the supreme creator of the Star Wars universe, when he says something it becomes real. Oh yeah. I think you hear what I'm saying, party people: There is now officially a Star Wars character named after Conan!! HOW AWECELLET IS THAT?! The Star Wars wiki Wookieepedia has already incorporated the change into the Star Wars Mythology! Man! This week couldn't get any better!"
- ―Conan O'Brien's NBC blog
Motti's full name was revealed by Star Wars creator George Lucas on an episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien on May 1, 2007. When Lucas was challenged to a trivia question by a fan—Late Night Associate Producer Jordan Schlansky—as to the name of the officer who Darth Vader Force chokes in A New Hope, Lucas jokingly replied "Conan Antonio Motti", a tuckerization of Conan O'Brien's name. The next day after the episode's airing, Late Night posted a blog entry on the NBC website about their surprise at the quick response of Wookieepedia in adopting the new full name for Motti as well as their appreciation for Lucas' decision to name the character after O'Brien. The name was then confirmed in-universe by Star Wars Legends novels and eventually in the canon novel Tarkin.
- LEGO Star Wars: Droid Tales – "Mission to Mos Eisley" (In flashback(s))
- LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (In flashback(s))
Notes and references
- Ultimate Star Wars
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Dawn of Rebellion
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
- The events of Tarkin take place five years after the rise of the Galactic Empire, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY. Therefore, Tarkin must be set in 14 BBY.
- "An Incident Report"—From a Certain Point of View
- "Verge of Greatness"—From a Certain Point of View
- A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
- "In the Star Wars Universe" – Star Wars Insider 40
- Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi