It’s not a little known fact that to one generation he’ll always be known as Cliff Clavin from Cheers. To another he’ll be the Pig from the Toy Story Trilogy. John does have the distinction of being in two Superman Movies and The Empire Strikes Back. You’ll see John as the 1st Controller in Superman when the nuclear missiles launch. He then pops up on Hoth as Major Bren Derlin. Then, finally, in Superman 2 he appears as Controller 1 (yeah, big switch from the first film) at NASA monitoring the Astronauts.
This one took awhile but our favorite Kryptonian General and all around badass, General Zod, eventually appeared in a Star Wars movie. Stamp would make a brief and tragic appearance as Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars Episode 1. Night and day characters but, like Ratzenberger, he appears in three films from both franchises.
He never makes an appearance in either of the two franchises, but his presence is felt nonetheless. I challenge you to find a better composer of soundtracks with a more recognizable body of work. To this day his music either lifts us up (Superman Theme) or brings a sense of dread to our hearts (the Imperial March). Williams would do all six Star Wars scores (as if anyone else could) but only the first Superman Movie. His Superman Theme was used nonetheless with subsequent sequels and relaunches. Warner Brothers has to use it again for Man of Steel. Because, no matter what, it’s Williams’ theme that makes us believe a man can fly.
There are thousands of actors out there with blink-and-you’ll-miss-them performances. John Morton appears in both franchises and twice suffers a tragic death. As Dack Ratler, you would think he would have had the force on his side as Luke Skywalker’s rear gunner. Nope. Dack buys the moisture farm pretty quick. In Superman 2, where we actually see his full face, he gets crushed on the moon before he can ever scream out, “Superman, help me”.
Here is an actor that anyone with a keen eye or a good ear picked up. LeParmentier is the first guy Darth Vader uses the force to choke. Unlike many of those poor Imperial slobs that followed, Conan Antonio Motti (aka Admiral Motti) actually gets to live. Only to die when the Death Star gets blown up by Vader’s kid. So where is he in Superman 2? LeParmentier is first on the scene in Texas reporting on General Zod’s arrival. He announces to the world that these beings have powers similar to Superman.
This was the one that started it all (for the article). Brown does give that great look that perhaps there is more to the story of Luke’s father before he gets turned into Dewback bacon. This brief performance does add a lot of weight to Luke Skywalker’s angst against the Empire. In Superman he actually appears in the same scene with Ratzenberger’s 1st Controller as a State Senator. Look for the old man in the Coke Bottle Glasses and you just found Uncle Owen.
I always had a special place in my heart for Lobot. As my second Empire Strikes Back figure (behind Boba Fett) ever, I always took notice of that face when it appeared on screen. Much later I spotted him in Superman 2 and thought that guy looked familiar. Yep, that Kryptonian Elder is Lobot. Yet, his Superman appearances are not limited to The Movie and Superman 2. Hollis also appears as a Russian General in Superman 4: the Quest for Peace.
I looked into why these actors were in these classic films. There was no similar head casting agent nor were they all friends with John Williams. Fate simply aligned for many of these actors. I always felt a connection to these films through Williams’ music. Now I’ll see these actors, as well.