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Richard Marquand (22 September 1937 – 4 September 1987) was a Welsh film director,[1] best known for directing 1983's Return of the Jedi. He also directed the critically acclaimed 1981 drama film Eye of the Needle and the 1985 thriller Jagged Edge.

Richard Marquand
Born (1937-09-22)22 September 1937
Llanishen, Cardiff, Wales
Died 4 September 1987(1987-09-04) (aged 49)
Tunbridge Wells, England
Occupation Film director
Children James Marquand
Parent(s) Hilary Marquand (father)
Relatives David Marquand (brother)


Early lifeEdit

Marquand was born in Llanishen, Cardiff, Wales. He is the son of Rachel E. (née Rees) and Hilary Marquand, who was a Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) and Minister in the Post Second World War Labour Government.[2] He is the younger brother of David Marquand, who also served as a Labour Party MP.

Richard Marquand was educated at Emanuel School, London, the University of Aix (now Aix-Marseille University) in Aix-en-Provence, France and King's College, Cambridge. During National Service he studied Mandarin and was posted to Hong Kong where he also read the news on the English language Hong Kong Television.


By the late 1960s, Marquand had begun a career writing and directing television documentaries for the BBC, where he worked on projects such as the 1972 series Search for the Nile and an edition of One Pair of Eyes (1968),[3] about the novelist Margaret Drabble who had been a friend of his at Cambridge.[4] He collaborated with the celebrated foreign correspondent, James Cameron, (not to be confused with the director) on a long running series called Cameron Country for BBC television and also with John Pilger on a series of films for ITV. In 1979, Marquand incorporated many of his documentary techniques in his biographical television movie Birth of the Beatles. He directed several films specifically for children including the 1977 Emmy winning Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid.

On the strength of his direction of the 1981 feature, Eye of the Needle, Marquand was hired by producer George Lucas to direct Return of the Jedi.[5] In his commentary track on the DVD, Lucas explains that Marquand "had done some great suspense films and was really good with actors. Eye of the Needle was the film I'd seen that he had done that impressed me the most, it was really nicely done and had a lot of energy and suspense." Marquand was the only non-American to direct a Star Wars film until 2016, when Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was directed by Gareth Edwards.

Marquand subsequently directed the 1985 courtroom thriller Jagged Edge, starring Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close.

In 1987, Marquand died of a stroke eighteen days short of his 50th birthday. His last film, Hearts of Fire, starring Bob Dylan, was released posthumously.[5]

Marquand had four children; Hannah, Sam, Molly, and James, the last of whom is also a film director.


Year Title Contribution Roles Notes
1970 Edward II Director Television movie
1971 The Search for the Nile Director Television mini-series
Episodes "Conquest and Death" (1971)
"The Secret Fountains" (1971)
1975 The Puritan Experience: Making of a New World Director, writer Short film
The Puritan Experience: Forsaking England Director Short film
1976 NBC Special Treat Director, Writer (Luke Was There only) Television series
Episodes "Big Henry and the Polka Dot Kid" (1976)
"Luke Was There" (1976)
1978 The Legacy Director
1979 Birth of the Beatles Director
1981 Eye of the Needle Director
1983 Return of the Jedi Director Maj. Marquand (AT-ST Driver) / EV-9D9 (voice) Uncredited (voice role)
1984 Until September Director
1985 Jagged Edge Director
1987 Hearts of Fire Director Released posthumously
1993 Nowhere to Run Writer (Story)


  1. ^ "Welsh film facts". BBC. 5 March 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Richard Marquand Biography (1937–)
  3. ^ One Pair of Eyes: Margaret Drabble, BBC2, 9 March 1968, BBC Archive site
  4. ^ Margaret Drabble "Once upon a life: Margaret Drabble", The Guardian, 5 December 2010
  5. ^ a b Richard Marquand > Biography – AllMovie. Retrieved 25 September 2010.

External linksEdit