Lawrence G. Paull, the art director and production designer behind iconic movies like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future, died Sunday per the Hollywood Reporter. According to a publicist’s announcement, he passed away in La Jolla, California, at the age of 81. No cause of death was cited, THR reported.
Though his career spanned decades, Paull’s Oscar-nominated work on the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner remains some of his most prolific, as the dystopian Los Angeles aesthetic he helped actualize continues to inspire and influence how creators tackle the genre today. In a 2015 interview THR’s report cites, Paull attributes this success in part to Ridley’s hands-off directing approach.
“What he would say, up in the art department: ‘If you build it, I’ll shoot it.’ And who could resist the temptation of that? Because we’ve all suffered, making films with gigantic sets, and beautiful sets, and all that is shown are talking heads. And that was disappointing. But because [Ridley] was an art director, he knew he could hook us with that bait. And he did it — if we built it, he shot it,” he told Inverse.
In a statement Scott provided THR, the director recalled he was “always struck by [Paull’s] staunch and faithful support of the strange plan for the unique world of Blade Runner. Between Syd [Means, visual futurist on the film] and myself and Larry, it was a challenging, monumental task for him and against all odds — the proof is in his work in the film. So I guess we won. My hat comes off for him.”
After retiring from the production side of the industry in the early 2000s, Paull went on to use his architectural degree and lifetime of showbiz experience to teach production design at Chapman University, according to the report. He also acted as a guest speaker at other universities like Harvard, USC, UCLA, Catholic University, and his architecture alma mater, the University of Arizona.
There will be no services, per THR, and the family has requested any donations made in his memory be submitted to a charity of your choice.