Peter Sumner, who played Lieutenant Pol Treidum, a security officer on the Death Star in the original Star Wars, has died after a long illness, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. He was 74.
The lone Australian to appear in the George Lucas film, Sumner earned £60 a day for two days’ work, or about $825 total today.
In the 1977 movie, Treidum notices that two stormtroopers are not at their assigned stations and says into an intercom: “TK-421, why aren’t you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?” Later, he’s punched by Chewbacca and driven backward.
That alone made him a favorite at sci-fi conventions and the recipient of thousands of letters from fans over the years.
According to the Herald, Sumner was in England after traveling with his family when Star Wars was being cast. His agent in London told him that “this strange little American sci-fi movie” was looking for an actor to work for a couple of days, so Sumner reported to Elstree Studios.
“I was absolutely amazed at the sets that had been built,” Sumner told the newspaper in December. “On the first day, when the second or third assistant took me up to the control room set that I was working in, I was standing on the back wall when this man suddenly appeared at my side.
“His glasses were crooked and he had an old white shirt and grey pants on. I thought he was an accountant of some sort.
“We got talking — being Australian always interests people — and just as I was about to say, ‘And who are you?’ [a crewmember] came over and said, ‘Mr. Lucas, we’re ready.’ That was my meeting with George Lucas.”
Sumner returned as Treidum in the 1999 Star Wars fan film The Dark Redemption. He’s the only actor from the original to reprise his role.
During his busy five-decade career, Sumner also appeared in Tony Richardson’s Ned Kelly (1970), starring Mick Jagger; worked on the kids show Play School; and had regular roles on such series as Spyforce, Neighbours, Cluedo and Heartbreak High.
Survivors include his wife Lynda and children Luke, Kate and Joanna.