Richard Miller, who was the Industrial Light and Magic sculptor behind Princess Leia’s golden slave bikini in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, has passed. Per the Hollywood Reporter, he passed after an extended stay in hospice care. Miller was 80.
Fon H. Davis, a close friend of Miller’s, posted the sad news on Instagram.
“I am heartbroken to hear my friend, colleague and incredibly talented sculptor, Richard Miller has passed away,” he captioned. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work, laugh, and be grumpy, at times, with him. I really appreciate having this picture Marrianne Heath sent me last Christmas. That’s the smile I like to remember. I also miss Grant very much today. We would have gotten together to remember Richard. Hug your friends today.”
Having worked on 55 movies over the span of 30 years, Miller’s list of credits is vast. Films include Willow (1988), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Body Wars (1989), Back to the Future Part II (1989), Back to the Future Part III (1990), Backdraft (1991), Rocketeer (1991), Hook (1991) and Death Becomes Her (1992).
Other movies his work was featured in were The Flintstones (1994), Baby’s Day Out (1994), The Mask (1994), Casper (1995), Congo (1995), Jumanji (1995), Mission Impossible (1996), Spawn (1997), Flubber (1997).
Miller returned to the Star Wars universe when his sculptures were used in the three prequels of the saga. His credits also included films like The Mummy (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), Planet of the Apes (2001), Hulk (2003) and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003).
But best known is Miller’s work on Princess Leia’s outfit which inspired decades of “decadent and seductive” Halloween costumes and Cosplay. While he was working as a jeweler and sculptor and as an art teacher at a local university, Miller was hired by ILM in 1981 ahead of 1983’s Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Costume designer Aggie Guerard Rodgers built the costume along with costume designer Nilo Rodis-Jamero. Rodgers said that George Lucas gave her only general instructions about the scene in Jabba’s palace, but wanted a special costume.
Reflecting on Carrie Fisher’s costume, Miller took to Twitter to share a tidbit from the Princess Leia bikini saying, “I sculpted the Princess Leia bikini back in 1981 for Return of the Jedi. Fun fact: It was quite uncomfortable on Carrie so I glued leather to the interior so she could move around more freely.”
I sculpted the the Princess Leia bikini back in 1981 for Return of the Jedi. Fun fact: It was quite uncomfortable on Carrie so I glued leather to the interior so she could move around more freely. #StarWars #PrincessLeia #LeiaBikini pic.twitter.com/TmLigSdy11
— Richard Miller (@RichardMillerFX) December 14, 2021
All the numbers, when we were fitting the Princess Leia Bikini. We had to refit the bikini right before shooting because Carrie Fisher had lost so much weigh since we took these measurements. #Princessleia #NFT #NFTart #NFTauction #Starwars pic.twitter.com/dgF073G72l
— Richard Miller (@RichardMillerFX) January 30, 2022
To craft the dancing-girl costume, Miller utilized a wax casting technique used in bronze sculpting. He initially created the pieces using soft wax around bendable armature wire, placed them in an ice chest, and then actress Carrie Fisher wore them against her skin so that her body heat would warm and soften the wax as the armature was shaped to fit her.
Miller would then use the fitted wax pieces to mold and cast the costume components in a dense urethane rubber that was then painted gold.
He also created Emperor Palpatine’s cloak clasp, which was first sculpted and cast in resin and then finished with a high-gloss black lacquer.