Every now and then, we like to eulogize those who have made a significant impact in the world of knives and swords. While most people we honor were bladesmiths, the recent death of Bob Anderson at 89 is something we can’t ignore.
If you’re not familiar with the name Bob Anderson, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the work he’s done. Anderson was the man behind (and sometimes in) many of the most notable sword-fighting scenes in the movies for the past five decades. Examples of the movies he had a hand in include the original Star Wars trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Princess Bride, The Mask of Zorro, Highlander, The Moonraker and much more.
Before becoming involved in the movies, Anderson was actually an Olympic fencer before answering an ad to work as a fencing coach for a British film studio. Although he didn’t win any Olympic medals for his fencing prowess, he gained much more fame and exposure working in the movie industry.
A while back, I wrote a post on the most badass sword fighting scenes and Anderson’s work featured prominently in the list. His most notable role by far was in the original Star Wars trilogy. In A New Hope, he did some training behind the scenes to prepare the actors for sword fighting. However, in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Anderson actually donned the Darth Vader outfit and performed the stunts himself. While this went uncredited for a long time, Mark Hamill finally revealed the secret in an interview later.
Although Anderson may have recently passed away, you can still see some of his new work in the upcoming 2012 film The Hobbit. If you can’t wait, simply put on one of the biggest epics that featured sword fighting and you’ll see his skill translated through the big screen.