Why Boba Fett's Sound Was a Mystery for Almost 20 Years

Boba Fett and Darth Vader, rocking some helmets in The Empire Strikes Back.
Boba Fett and Darth Vader, rocking some helmets in The Empire Strikes Back.
Photo: Lucasfilm

If I say “Bad Guy in Helmet from Star Wars” first you think of Darth Vader and then you think of Boba Fett. However, while everyone knows what Darth Vader sounds like when he walks around, what about Boba Fett?


Going into Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the plan was for the new character of Boba Fett to have his own behind-helmet sounds, just like the unforgettable breathing of Darth Vader. Work began when crafting Fett’s first appearance.

“[Boba Fett] first appeared in the cartoon made for the Star Wars Holiday Special,” legendary sound designer Ben Burtt told StarWars.Com. “At the time he was introduced, we were trying to give him a distinctive ambient sound that was always heard when he was around. We had done that previously, of course, with Vader’s breathing.”

Burtt and his team settled on “some telemetry and soft electronic noises as if there were scanners or sensors onboard within him.” There was a problem though. “Although we made those sounds, they were never heard because he never appeared in a quiet place,” he said of the locations Fett appears in The Empire Strikes Back. So, much like the rocket jet pack of Fett’s famous toy, another aspect of the character remained a mystery. At least until 1997.

According to the interview, Fett’s sounds can be heard during his quiet, controversial appearance in the Special Edition of Star Wars: A New Hope, which finally gave Fett his own distinctive sound. Before that though, in the time between Empire and the Special Edition, the sound could actually be heard in one other place. If Boba Fett made an officially licensed, costumed appearance at a convention or event, that specially built suit had the sound.

“We built a cassette recorder into his chest pack,” Burtt said. “The sounds played back on an endless loop cassette, just like they did for R2-D2 at that time, before digital technology. When Boba walked around, he always broadcast his customized sound.”


This story is just one of the dozens of incredible stories Burtt tells in Star Wars.com’s amazing interview with the legend. He talks about mynock sounds coming from horses, wampas coming from lions, AT-AT metal crushing, melting ice for carbon freeze, and an office full of wild chimpanzees. Read the whole thing at this link.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo. Formerly of Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and Slashfilm. AP Award-Winning Film Critic and CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.


I laugh EVERYTIME I see an article about Boba Fett, because none of it ever makes sense. HE as a character has a MASSIVE following of die hard fans, yet he has a total of 6 minutes of screen time and 4 lines in the entire OT.