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The secret story behind Admiral Ackbar's "It's a trap!" line

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Thirty odd years ago, radio dramatist Erik Bauersfeld recorded the voices of Admiral Ackbar and Bib Fortuna for Return of the Jedi, saw the movie, and promptly forgot about the whole experience.

It wasn't until decades later that he began receiving fan mail from Star Wars lovers wanting an autograph from the guy who knew how to properly articulate a trap.


Despite a long and fruitful dramatic career, the ninety-year-old Bauersfeld has achieved pop cultural immortality thanks to an entirely off-the-cuff recording session. Explained the actor to the San Francisco Chronicle:

Bauersfeld says he was at Lucasfilm, working on a radio project with [sound designer Randy] Thom, when sound designer Ben Burtt asked him to read for Ackbar, a character with about a dozen lines in the film. The actor says he was offered no direction.

"I went over, he showed me the picture of Admiral Ackbar, and I did it," Bauersfeld says. "I saw the face, and I knew what he must sound like."

He was done in an hour, then spent 30 more minutes reading for Fortuna, who speaks entirely in the fictitious language of Hutt. ("Die wanna wanga!") His parts were added late, and he didn't receive a screen credit for either reading.


Mind you, Bauersfeld never watched A New Hope (and still has yet to). Bauersfeld is happy that his performance left fans enthused, but he admits that he hasn't seen Jedi since 1983, so the Ackbar voice doesn't come as naturally as he'd like. Watch the charming actor describe his time as a Mon Calamari above. Hat tip to Maven!