- "I think directing Return of the Jedi is rather like being a famous conductor. You are given this fabulous orchestra, full of the most brilliant musicians that you could want in the world. The guy who wrote the music is listening, he is available for any problems you have, to say, 'Well if you play the third bar a little faster…' You didn't compose the music. Some other guy did and he's in the next room."
- ―Richard Marquand on directing Return of the Jedi with George Lucas as producer
Richard Marquand was born in Cardiff, Wales in 1937. While he is best known as the director of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, he is also known for his other works, including the World War II thriller Eye of the Needle, starring Donald Sutherland, and Jagged Edge. Marquand portrayed the AT-ST pilot Major Marquand in Return of the Jedi. He also voiced EV-9D9, Jabba's droid. His son is Jim Marquand.
Following the release of Return of the Jedi, Marquand expressed an interest in directing one of the prequel films. However, he died of a stroke on September 4, 1987, at the age of only 49. His final film, Hearts of Fire, was released later that year, and included Julian Glover in a role.
Return of the Jedi
Marquand was selected by George Lucas for the final film of the original trilogy, with Irvin Kershner unavailable to return as director. Shortly after Marquand was hired, Lucas offered him the choice of which type of creature would command the Rebel fleet. Marquand selected the creature that became Admiral Ackbar.
Many of the cast members and production staff reported various difficulties with Marquand as a director, although reports were sometimes contradictory. Marquand was relatively inexperienced with film, coming from a television background, and as a result Lucas was on hand at almost all times during shooting to ensure that the production went smoothly. According to Robert Watts, "George came and he never left; Richard couldn't grasp it and George was concerned, so he never left." Kit West said that "George was on his shoulder the whole time."
Marquand and his editor Sean Barton created the first cut of Return of the Jedi after principle photography finished. The cut was not well-received by Lucas, prompting him to take over editing for subsequent cuts. Howard Roffman reports that "George knew it wasn't going to be good" even before the first cut was screened. Barton admitted "We didn't get it right for George", and Steve Starkey remarked that "Richard had interpreted George incorrectly or his instincts were moving in a different direction." However, Lucas himself acknowledged that "The first cut on a film is never wonderful."
Relationship with cast and crew
Carrie Fisher complained about Marquand at length in interviews, reporting that the director didn't treat her or Mark Hamill well. She recounted one event where Marquand told her she was "f*cking up" a shot, causing her to cry. Fisher remarked that Marquand was "great to Harrison". Harrison Ford recalled getting along well with Marquand, but according to Sean Barton, "Harrison didn't take to Richard at all." Mark Hamill said "I liked Richard very much, he was very personable" and that "I was surprised that Carrie had problems".
Lucas expressed that "I actually had a great time working with Richard. We had a cooperative relationship."
- "Anthony Daniels: Remembering That Galaxy Far, Far Away"—The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine 1
- "Richard Marquand 1938-1987"—The Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine 2
- "Back on Set!"—Star Wars Insider 160
- Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga: The Official Collector's Edition