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The past few years have been very kind to Star Wars fans. Once Disney acquired Lucasfilm, there's been a variety of new and exciting projects hitting theaters, expanding the galaxy far, far away in the process. Standalone films and the upcoming Mandalorian TV series broke new ground for the property, although the main focus on the generations of fans is on the main franchise.
J.J. Abrams' kickstarted the story back up with The Force Awakens, which saw plenty of familiar faces return to the big screen. This includes the always meme-worthy Admiral Ackbar. But the iconic rebel met a swift end in The Last Jedi, and that's a decision that seriously upset the puppeteer who brought him to life over the years. Tim Rose is the man behind Ackbar, and recently expressed his disappointment about the character's handling in the sequel trilogy. He said:
After The Force Awakens -- for whatever reason, length of picture, whatever -- it all got cut out. So after waiting 30 years to reprise Ackbar I was a little disappointed with Ackbar's role in that picture. So in The Last Jedi, I was quite looking forward to maybe them giving him something more juicy. We were only given the script on the day when we were shooting that piece of script, so each day I would come to work going, ‘Is today the day when Ackbar gets something a bit more involving?’ And I looked at my script and I went, ‘Oh, Ackbar's going out of the window. Well, that's that then!’ I wasn’t quite dead yet.
Yikes. It turns out that Admiral Ackbar had a larger role in The Force Awakens, but it ultimately landed on the cutting room floor. There was a decent amount of world building to get through in Episode VII, so Tim Rose understood. At least, until he was killed off in The Last Jedi's opening sequence.
Admiral Ackbar might not have been as popular as franchise favorites like Han Solo or General Leia, but his role in the Star Wars franchise goes back to 1983's Return of the Jedi. As such, Tim Rose was hoping he'd have a meaty role once the sequel trilogy finally happened. Unfortunately, Ackbar's presence was mostly tertiary, and he got an unceremonious death scene.
Ackbar was killed along with the rest of The Resistance Leaders when the First Order attacked the fleet, and a TIE fighter blew up the commanding ship's bridge. Leia was able to use her dormant Force Abilities to save herself, but the rest of the leadership wasn't so lucky.
In his same conversation with Jamie Stangroom, Tim Rose described how salt was rubbed in his wound on the set of The Last Jedi, saying:
We finished all of our bits and they asked me to come down to camera. And I thought, ‘Oh well, maybe they’re going to say thank you for being one of the heritage characters and giving 30 years and all that.’ But what they did was, they gave me a Millennium Falcon sign that had the day and the date on it, the scene number, and they said, ‘Can you look at camera and say "It's a wrap?" Because that would be really funny.’ … I was actually in tears in the suit because I thought - after everything, after hoping there’d be something, after knowing there wasn't going to be anything else, Ackbar's final moment before he went in to the box was a big joke about ‘It's a wrap.’ They just thought ‘Wouldn’t it be funny?’ And that was the sum total of my life as Ackbar.
Ouch. While the Resistance Leaders were killed off in The Last Jedi in order to move the story forward, Tim Rose's feelings were hurt in the process. And when he was asked to film some B-roll for special features/sizzle reels, there was an extra level of betrayal for the puppeteer.
As a reminder, you can check out the scene below. Ackbar isn't featured, but can be seen behind Leia before the bridge is destroyed.
Aside from his onscreen appearances, Admiral Ackbar has had a life on the page and small screen. Plus, his iconic "It's a trap!" line from Return of The Jedi has been meme-d more times than one can count. So while Tim Rose might have been disappointed with his tenure as the character, Ackbar will still live on forever with the generations of Star Wars fans.