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Norman Reynolds, who won Oscars in art direction for Star Wars Episode VI: A New Hope and Raiders of the Lost Ark has died, Lucasfilm confirmed. He was 89.
The U.K. native made important creative contributions to all three movies in the original Star Wars trilogy, as an art director on A New Hope and production designer on The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. According to a biography shared by Lucasfilm, Reynolds worked closely with John Barry, A New Hope‘s overall production designer, to help establish the core design philosophy behind Star Wars architecture and construction. They joined art director Leslie Dilley and set decorator Roger Christian as winners of the Academy Award for art direction in 1978. For The Empire Strikes Back, Reynolds was named production designer as Barry pursued directing.
For Raiders, Reynolds’ first collaboration with Spielberg, he sculpted the iconic golden idol that Indy attempts to procure during the film’s opening scene. Reynolds used an Incan fertility sculpture that he’d collected during his travels overseas.
His work also included the creation of the giant boulder from which Indy runs as it rolls down a temple passage. Reynolds was quoted as saying that it was Spielberg who kept asking for it to be bigger. Raiders delivered Reynolds his second Academy Award for art direction in 1982 alongside art director Dilley and set decorator Michael Ford.
In addition to Raiders, he worked with Spielberg as production designer on Empire of the Sun, for which he was also Oscar nominated.
“Norman was always smiling with enthusiasm, and there was nothing he couldn’t make work,” said Spielberg in a statement. “Joyful and friendly and a massive talent.”
“Frank and I were shattered at the news of Norman’s passing this weekend,” said Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy in a statement. “Norman was an exceptional person to work with. His contributions to the first entries of the Star Wars saga and Indiana Jones series helped set the standard for the look of these beloved stories that has inspired generations of film designers. Our thoughts are with his family.”
During his career Reynolds also production designed for directors including Brain dePalma (Mission Impossible) and David Fincher (Aliens 3). He art directed Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman.
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