Bob Anderson who has died, aged 89, was one of the foremost practitioners of the anonymous art of choreographing sword fights for movies. The job entails not just creating thrust, parry, riposte up and down staircases and over balconies and down cliff-faces but also training actors to fight as if they really know what they are doing. From Errol Flynn to Viggo Mortensen, Anderson trained them all.
Actually he didn't have to train Flynn much, as the Australian-born star was a gifted fencer. One of Anderson's earliest jobs was choreographing fights for Flynn's film "The Master of Ballantrae." Anderson was an Olympic fencer for Britain and doubled for the five actors who were seen fighting Flynn in one sequence, as Ronald Bergan's obit in The Guardian explains. ""I doubled five actors in that film and when it was cut together, one sequence showed me killing myself because I had doubled two actors who actually had a fight together."
But Anderson's most iconic fight was the one he staged for Star Wars. Mark Hamill, who played Luke Sky Walker, reminisced back in 1983, "Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting. It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George Lucas, I didn't think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It's ridiculous to preserve the myth that it's all done by one man."
Anderson worked well into his 80's. He trained Viggo Mortensen for his fights in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and called him the best swordsman he had ever trained.