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Kenneth Colley (born 7 December 1937) is an English veteran film and television actor whose career spans 50 years. He came to wider prominence through his role as Admiral Piett in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.

Kenneth Colley
Kenneth Colley Gen SW 2010 2.jpg
Born (1937-12-07) 7 December 1937 (age 81)
Years active1961–present



Unlike the other ill-fated Imperial officers who appeared alongside him in The Empire Strikes Back, Colley was the only actor to play an Imperial officer in more than one Star Wars film.[1] Colley reprised his role as Piett in the Cartoon Network animated special Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out in September 2012.[2] Coincidentally, Colley and David Prowse had a part in the 1977 fantasy film Jabberwocky.[3]

Colley was born in Manchester, Lancashire. He played Jesus in The Life of Brian, having also appeared in the earlier Monty Python-related production Ripping Yarns episode "The Testing of Eric Olthwaite" alongside Michael Palin. As a Shakespearean actor he played the Duke of Vienna in the BBC Television Shakespeare production of Measure for Measure in 1979.[4]

Colley also played an important role in the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Firefox, where he played a Soviet colonel tasked with the protection of the Firefox and its secrets.

Colley went on to play SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel in the Second World War drama War and Remembrance. He has directed one film to date, Greetings, a 2007 horror film starring Kirsty Cox, Henry Dunn and Ben Shockley. According to comments which Terry Gilliam (who directed him in Jabberwocky and acted with him in Life of Brian) made in the DVD audio commentaries for both films, Colley has a terrible stammer in real life. When he had a role in a film, however, he could recite the lines perfectly. Stuttering is a character trait, however, in his role as the Accordion Man in the 1978 BBC television drama, Pennies from Heaven.[5]

Colley worked extensively with British director Ken Russell from the early 1970s to the early 1990s as part of a repertory of actors who appeared across Russell's television and film work (others included Murray Melvin, Brian Murphy , Oliver Reed, Max Adrian and Georgina Hale). He played the role of Modest Tchaikovsky in the 1971 film The Music Lovers. He went on to play the role of LeGrand in Russell's controversial masterpiece The Devils; he played the journalist Krenek in the biopic Mahler in 1974; the composer Frédéric Chopin in Lisztomania; Mr Brunt in Russell's adaptation of The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence. His last role for Russell was as Captain Dreyfus in the film Prisoner of Honor, which dealt with the Dreyfus affair.

Personal lifeEdit

Colley lives in Hythe, Kent.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1964 Seventy Deadly Pills Covent Garden porter
1967 The Jokers De Winter
How I Won the War 2nd Replacement
1968 The Blood Beast Terror James
1970 Performance Tony Farrell
The Music Lovers Modeste Tchaikovsky
1971 The Devils Legrand
1972 The Triple Echo Provo Corporal
1973 Hitler: The Last Ten Days Boldt Uncredited
1974 Fall of Eagles Father Gapon
Mahler Krenek
Juggernaut Detective Brown
1975 Slade in Flame Tony Devlin
Lisztomania Frédéric Chopin
1977 Jabberwocky 1st Fanatic
1979 Measure For Measure 'Duke of Vienna'
Monty Python's Life of Brian Jesus
1980 The Empire Strikes Back Admiral Piett
1981 Peter and Paul Theodotus
1982 Firefox Colonel Kontarsky
Giro City Martin
1983 The Scarlet and the Black Captain Hirsch
Return of the Jedi Admiral Piett
1984 Return to Waterloo The Traveller
1987 The Whistle Blower Bill Pickett
1988 A Summer Story Jim
1989 The Rainbow Mr. Brunt
1990 The Plot to Kill Hitler Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
I Hired a Contract Killer 'The Killer'
The Last Island Nick
1992 La Vie de Bohème Balayeur de rues
1996 El último viaje de Robert Rylands Archdale
Brassed Off Greasley
1997 Shadow Run Larcombe
1999 Hold Back the Night Uncle Bob
Holding On Phil
2007 Greetings Ken
2013 Scar Tissue Weaver


Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Nine Tailors Potty Peake TV mini-series, Series 1 Episode 3, Lord Peter Wimsey
1977 Ripping Yarns Arthur the Robber 1 episode, The Testing of Eric Outhwaite
1978 Les Misérables Police Prefect TV film
1978 Pennies from Heaven The Accordion Man 6 episodes, TV mini-series
1979 Measure for Measure Duke BBC Shakespeare series
1985 Wallenberg: A Hero's Story Adolf Eichmann TV film
Mussolini: The Untold Story King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy TV mini-series
1982 I Remember Nelson Admiral Lord Nelson
1986 Return to Treasure Island Ben Gunn 10 episodes, credited as Ken Colley
1988 War and Remembrance SS-Standartenführer Paul Blobel 2 episodes, TV mini-series
1990 Agatha Christie's Poirot Mathew Davenheim 1 episode, "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim"
1991 Inspector Morse DCI Patrick Dawson Episode 16 Second Time Around
Prisoner of Honour Captain Alfred Dreyfus TV film
1993 Unnatural Causes Inspector Gerry Reckless TV film
1994-5 Moving Story Ken Uttley 13 episodes
1995 Solomon & Sheba Nathan TV film
2001 Midsomer Murders Lloyd Kirby 1 episode, The Electric Vendetta
2002 Relic Hunter Professor Lamenza 1 episode, Faux Fox
2003 EastEnders Brian 3 episodes
2005 Like Father Like Son Rawsthorne 2 episodes
2006 Foyle's War Brian Jones 1 episode, Bad Blood
2009 Casualty 1909 Dr. Frederick Smith 3 episodes
2012 Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out Admiral Piett TV film
2013 Vera Ronald Devreux Series 3, Episode 3 Young Gods
Misfits Old Rudy Series 5, Episode 4
2016 Peaky Blinders Vicente Changretta Series 3, Episodes 2 & 3


  1. ^ Daniel Mumby. "10 Actors Who Weren't Able to Let Star Wars Go - Page 2". What Culture. Retrieved 8 December 2015. ...since his character is the only Imperial officer to last more than one Star Wars film
  2. ^ Milton, Luke (18 September 2012). "Interview: Writer Michael Price Reveals LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out!". Fruitless Pursuits. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Jabberwocky (1977)". BFI. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  4. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Measure For Measure (1979)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  5. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Pennies From Heaven (1978)". BFI Screenonline. Retrieved 8 December 2015.
  6. ^ Leclere, Matt (29 October 2015). "Sir Ian McKellen lends a touch of magic to Folkestone's Leas Pavilion campaign". Kent Online. Retrieved 8 December 2015. Ken Colley, from Hythe

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