George Roubicek

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"I wouldn't say this was just another job—there's no such thing as just another job—but I didn't realize how special it was going to be at the time."
―George Roubicek on Star Wars[src]

George Roubicek is an actor, as well as a dialogue director and script adaptor for English-language versions of foreign films and television shows. Roubicek portrayed Nahdonnis Praji in A New Hope, although his voice was dubbed by a different actor. Prior to that, the Austria-born actor appeared in small film roles throughout the 1950s, '60s and '70s, including parts in The Dirty Dozen (1967) and two James Bond films: You Only Live Twice (1967) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). He appeared in The Tomb of the Cybermen, a four-part Doctor Who serial, as well as two episodes of The Avengers, playing different roles each time.

Although he continued acting in small parts well into the 1990s, Roubicek's later career was more focused on dubbing foreign films and television shows into English-language productions. He directed the dubbing of previously unaired episodes of the cult Japanese series Monkey, as well as such films as Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight (1985), Asterix and the Big Fight (1989), X (1996), Roujin Z (2006) and Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest (2008).


Early acting careerEdit

George Roubicek was born May 25 1935 in Vienna, Austria.[1] In 1958, he appeared in the original cast of the Agatha Christie play Verdict, where he played the role of Lester Cole, the student of a professor who has fled from prosecution in his home country.[11] The play was first staged at the Strand Theatre in London on May 22, 1958.[12] Roubicek's first film roles were bit parts in the late 1950s, and included such parts as a German prisoner in the 1957 British World War II film The One That Got Away[13] and a police constable in the 1963 murder mystery Blind Date.[14] Roubicek continued performing in small roles in the early 1960s. Among them were a cleaning service man in the 1962 British horror film Burn, Witch, Burn!,[15] a Russian sentry in the 1963 British war film The Victors,[16] and the character Lieutenant Berger in the 1965 American Cold War film The Bedford Incident.[17] In 1967, he played Private Arthur James Gardner in the American war film The Dirty Dozen.[18] That year, Roubicek also appeared in the British espionage film Billion Dollar Brain, where he played the small part of Edgar,[19] and as an astronaut in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.[5]


George Roubicek as Captain Hopper in the Doctor Who television serial, The Tomb of the Cybermen (1967)

Roubicek appeared in The Tomb of the Cybermen, a four-part Doctor Who serial that aired in September 1967.[4] He portrayed Captain Hopper, the commander of a rocket that brings an archaeological expedition to the planet Telos to study the Cybermen, a race of cyborgs. Andrew Cartmel, a science fiction writer who served as a Doctor Who script editor in later episodes, strongly criticized Hopper's dialogue in his book, Through Time: An Unauthorised and Unofficial History of Doctor Who. Hopper, who is supposed to be an American, frequently uses the word guy and what Cartmel called "odd fake American idioms" like "It's not exactly peaches." Although Cartmel did not address Roubicek's performance, he asserted that the dialogue was written "in a way that suggests the English writers have never traveled across the Atlantic and have paid precious little attention to the films or books that have flowed the other way."[20] Nicholas J. Cull, a historian who has written about television and culture, wrote that Roubicek's character embraces a common Doctor Who stereotype of American soldiers who act gruff but provide very little actual support. Cull pointed to the fact that Hopper talks tough and repeatedly offers to help but plays little part in the action and declines to follow the Doctor into danger at the end.[21]

Roubicek appeared in two separate episodes of the spy fiction television series The Avengers, playing different characters both times. In "The White Dwarf," an episode that first aired February 9, 1963, he played Luke Richter, the son of a prominent astronomer who was murdered shortly after discovering that a star was going to collide with and destroy the Earth.[7] Roubicek appeared in "Invasion of the Earthmen," which was first broadcast on January 15, 1969. In that episode he played Bernard Grant, a secret agent who is killed by a giant Boa constrictor while investigating a mysterious school called the Alpha Academy.[22] Roubicek made guest appearances in several other television shows in 1968, including The Troubleshooters,[23] The Champions,[24] Detective,[25] and The Wednesday Play.[26]

In 1969, Roubicek appeared in the war film Submarine X-1, where he played the flag officer to a vice admiral played by Rupert Davies,[27] and Battle of Britain, where he played a sergeant pilot.[28] The next year, Roubicek played the supporting role of Karkov in Foreign Exchange, a television film based on a spy mystery novel of the same name by Jimmy Sangster.[29] In 1971, he appeared as a German radio operator in Dad's Army, a film remake of the BBC sitcom of the same name.[30] Roubicek continued performing in supporting roles in various television shows during the late 1970s, including Shades of Greene[31] and Monkey, a cult Japanese action/fantasy television series that ran from 1978 to 1980. He performed a few of the voice acting parts in the English-language dubbing of Monkey, and had a minor role in the technical dubbing aspects.[2]

Star WarsEdit

"I don't think anyone knew [what Star Wars was], except maybe George Lucas, and I'm not sure he knew all the time! We certainly didn't know."
―George Roubicek about Star Wars[src]

George Roubicek as Nahdonnis Praji in A New Hope (1977)

In 1976, Roubicek was cast in Star Wars, the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy, where he played the small role of a commander in the Galactic Empire, who was later given the name Nahdonnis Praji. He appeared early in the film, after the Imperial forces seize the Rebel Alliance starship Tantive IV and capture Princess Leia Organa. However, his lines were dubbed by an American actor, so the character's voice did not at all resemble that of Roubicek.[32] He appears in only seventeen seconds of the film,[33] and his role consists of three sentences of dialogue spoken to Darth Vader. Identified in the script only as "Second Officer,"[34] the character was not given the name Praji until nearly two decades later with the 1995 release of the Premiere Limited set of Decipher, Inc.'s Star Wars Customizable Card Game.[35] The character's first name, Nahdonnis, was not identified until September 2007, when it was featured in the Star Wars Insider article "The Empire's Finest: Who's Who in the Imperial Military."[36]

Roubicek's scene was filmed over a three-day period in July 1976, around the final days of principal photography. Roubicek did not anticipate at the time that Star Wars would become such a cultural phenomenon—his first impression of the franchise was wondering what it was "all about." During a 2007 interview, Roubicek indicated that he had had no idea of the cultural impact the Star Wars film would eventually have, nor had he believed anyone else involved quite understood it either.[3] In 2007, three decades after the first theatrical release of Star Wars (later renamed A New Hope) in 1977, Roubicek's image was used for a Commander Praji 12-inch action figure issued by Sideshow Collectibles. In a review of the figure, the designer toy website Plastic and Plush noted the sculpt mostly resembled the actor, but that it was difficult to capture his likeness because he did not have a very distinctive look.[37] Roubicek has participated in and signed autographs at several Star Wars conventions, including Celebration IV in Los Angeles, California in 2007,[38][39] and Celebration V in Orlando, Florida in 2010.[40][41]

Later careerEdit

"It's not a translation, it's an adaptation. It always has to be an adaptation for a whole lot of reasons. The sense of humor, for example, in the country of origin may not be the same sense of humor of the target audience. References which are perfectly obvious to the audience in the country of origin are not at all obvious to the target audience. So it's not a translation, it's always an adaptation."
―George Roubicek[src]
Roubicek spy who loved me

George Roubicek in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

In 1977, Roubicek appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me, his second James Bond film. He played a submarine captain working for Karl Stromberg, the villain character played by Curd Jürgens.[6] Roubicek continued some acting throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including small roles in such films as Bad Timing, a 1980 melodrama about a psychology professor seduced into a wild sexual affair,[42] and The Infiltrator, a 1995 film about a Jewish freelance journalist who travels to Germany for a story about Neo-Nazism.[43] However, most of his later career focused on the script adaptation and dubbing of foreign films into English. He wrote the English adaptation of the 1985 Japanese anime Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight, a science fiction film about a spaceship crew embarking on an interstellar test flight.[44] Roubicek followed that film up with several English-language adaptations of anime works, including Project A-Ko (1986), Junk Boy (1987), Demon City Shinjuku (1988), Dominion Tank Police (1988), Lupin III: Bye Bye Liberty Crisis (1989) and Venus Wars (1989).[45]

Roubicek served as the dialogue director for the English-language screenplay of Asterix and the Big Fight, a 1989 French/West German animated film based on the French Asterix comic book series.[46] British motion picture historian Leslie Halliwell was critical of the adaptation, which she called a "dull adaptation of a far wittier comic-book original."[47] He directed the adaptations of Patlabor: The Movie (1989) and Patlabor 2: The Movie (1993), two anime films inspired by the Patlabor franchise about giant robots in a near-future setting.[48] Between those films, he adapted the anime films A.D. Police Files (1990), A Wind Named Amnesia (1990), Tokyo Babylon (1992), and Tokyo Babylon 2 (1993).[45] In 1996, Roubicek handled the English script adaptation of the 1991 comedy science-fiction film Roujin Z. The Japanese anime film by Katushiro Otomo focuses on an elderly invalid man and a futuristic computerized hospital bed, which takes on a life of its own.[9] That year, he also adapted X, a film based on the manga series about a young man who must determine humanity's fate at the turn of the millennium.[8]

In 2004, Roubicek was asked to work again on Monkey, on which he had done some peripheral dubbing work in the late 1970s. He was hired as the director of the English-language dubbing for thirteen previously untelevised episodes of Monkey, which were to be released on DVD that year. The episodes had been included as a bonus feature on past DVD releases, but were only subtitled and had never before been dubbed into English. Roubicek was tasked with adapting the original Japanese scripts into English and directing the original cast in the dialogue for the dubbing. Roubicek stated that both he and the cast enjoyed being brought back together for the project, but that it proved particularly challenging. The recording sessions required what he called a "horrendous" amount of concentration, but he found the script adaptation process even more difficult—Roubicek had to ensure the translation was not only accurate, but that it preserved the humor of the original Japanese scripts. Fabulous Films Ltd., the company handling the DVD releases, originally provided Roubicek only with transcripts of the English subtitles for the thirteen episodes, but Roubicek disregarded them and had to start writing from scratch, as he believed that subtitle transcripts never bore any relation to a dubbing script.[2]


George Roubicek in 2008, discussing Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest

In 2008, Roubicek worked with filmmaker Michel Ocelot to adapt an English-language version of Ocelot's 2006 animated fantasy film, Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest,[10][49] which boasts what The New York Times described as a "flat, storybook-style worlds away from the sculpture digital aesthetic pioneered by Pixar." Azur & Asmar tells a fable-like tale of two young boys in a mythic Middle Eastern setting. Roubicek and Ocelot together wrote and directed the English version of the film,[10] which Roubicek described as "really a very traditional fairy story, Sinbad the Sailor meets Sleeping Beauty."[50] The original film included dialogue in mostly French with small portions in Arabic. During the adaptation, Roubicek and Ocelot chose to translate the French dialogue into English but preserve the Arabic without dubbing or subtitles. Michael Phillips, a film critic with the Chicago Tribune, opined that this was the correct decision because it allows the viewers to share the same "momentary confusion" as characters who do not understand Arabic and are suddenly thrown into "disorienting surroundings."[49]


Star WarsEdit

1977Star Wars: Episode IV A New HopeNahdonnis Praji[1]

Other acting rolesEdit

YearTitleRoleOther notes
1957The One That Got AwayGerman prisoner
1959Blind DatePolice constable
1961WhiplashFrank GarrettTelevision (2 episodes, "Secret of the Screaming Hills," "Episode in Bathurst")
1961MaigretDanielTelevision (1 episode, "Inspector Lognon's Triumph")
1961ITV Play of the WeekTrackerTelevision (1 episode, "Countdown at Woomera")
1962Burn, Witch, Burn!CleanerUncredited
1962ITV Play of the WeekMr. CooleTelevision (1 episode, "Lean Liberty")
1963Sierra NineGraham LambertTelevision (1 episode, "The Man Who Shook the World: Part One")
1963EspionageNaziTelevision (1 episode, "A Covenant with Death")
1963The VictorsRussian sentry
1963Badger's BendMr. PymTelevision (6 episodes)
1963The AvengersLuke RichterTelevision (1 episode, "The White Dwarf")
1964Thursday TheatreJohnny DowdTelevision (1 episode, "Summer of the Seventeenth Doll")
1964R3Dr. CoxTelevision (1 episode, "Against the Stream")
1965ITV Play of the WeekMooraTelevision (1 episode, "Goodbye Johnny")
1965The Bedford IncidentLieutenant Berger
1965No Hiding PlaceMechanicTelevision (1 episode, "What's All This Then?")
1965The TroubleshootersKingTelevision (1 episode, "Young Turk")
1965The Wednesday PlayDr. MarshallTelevision (1 episode, "Campaign for One")
1966The BaronTelevision (1 episode, "Enemy of the State")
1966Court MartialTelevision (1 episode, "Taps for the Sergeant")
1966Five MoreTelevision (1 episode, "Are You There?")
1966The SaintKGBTelevision (1 episode, "The Helpful Pirate") uncredited
1967The Dirty DozenPvt. Arthur James Gardner
1967You Only Live TwiceAstronaut
1967The SaintCarterTelevision (1 episode, "The Power Artists")
1967CallanCurtis DaleTelevision (1 episode, "The Death of Robert E. Lee")
1967Doctor WhoCaptain Hopper4 episodes, The Tomb of the Cybermen
1967Billion Dollar BrainEdgar
1967The TroubleshootersJohn AndersTelevision (1 episode, "Home and Dry")
1968Submarine X-1Redmayne's Flag Officer
1968The TroubleshootersEd WilsonTelevision (1 episode, "A Girl to Warm Your Feet On")
1968The AvengersBernard GrantTelevision (1 episode, "Invasion of the Earthmen")
1968DetectiveKurtzTelevision (1 episode, "Cork on the Water")
1968Theatre 625HugoTelevision (1 episode, "Mille miglia")
1968The ChampionsSemenkinTelevision (1 episode, "Reply Box No. 666")
1968The Wednesday PlayBryan ParkinTelevision (1 episode, "Hello, Good Evening and Welcome")
1969The Power GamePapigayTelevision (1 episode, "Special Envoy: Drinks on Sunday")
1969Battle of BritainSergeant pilot
1969The Adding MachineGraveyard loverScenes deleted
1969Z CarsDr. CarrTelevision (1 episode, "None the Worse: Part 1)
1969Dixon of Dock GreenMr. PowellTelevision (1 episode, "Bobby")
1970Foreign ExchangeKarkowTelevision film
1971Murphy's WarU-Boat crewmanUncredited
1972TightropeSgt. SilkowskiTelevision (1 episode)
1973The ProtectorsPolicemanTelevision (1 episode, "The First Circle")
1973Spy TrapCommander FisherTelevision (1 episode, 1973)
1974Father BrownJohn WilsonTelevision (1 episode, "The Arrow of Heaven")
1976Shades of GreeneDr. Cave/German officerTelevision (1 episode, "Under the Garden")
1976Orde WingateIndian Army OfficerTelevision (1 episode, "Turn You to the Strong Hold)
1976Dickens of LondonEberfieldMiniseries (2 episodes, "Possession" and "Money")
1977The Spy Who Loved MeStromberg One Captain
1978LilliePierre LorillardTelevision (1 episode, "America")
1979WinterspeltCaptain John Kimbrough
1979Ein Kapitel für sichMiniseries
1980ShoestringTom LaidlawTelevision (1 episode, "Where Was I?")
1981The Rose MedallionJohn MasonTelevision film
1981Play for TodayPieterTelevision (1 episode, "London is Drowning"
1981BergeracWalter VanceTelevision (1 episode, "Last Chance for a Loser")
1982The Brack ReportUK spokesmanTelevision (1 episode, "Chapter 3")
1985Mr. Palfrey of WestminsterZoltanTelevision (1 episode, "Official Secret")
1993Soldier, SoldierClub ownerTelevision (1 episode, "Fall Out")
1995The InfiltratorParty guestTelevision film
1996Bud Tucker in Double Trouble The ProfessorVideo game[1]

Dialogue director/script adapterEdit

YearTitleOther notes
1985Odin: Photon Sailer StarlightFilm
1986Project A-KoFilm
1987Junk BoyOVA
1988Demon City ShinjukuOAV
1988Dominion Tank PoliceOAV[45]
1988Urge to KillFilm
1989Asterix and the Big FightFilm
1989Lupin III: Bye Bye Liberty CrisisTelevision special
1989Venus WarsFilm
1989Patlabor: The MovieFilm
1990A.D. Police FilesFilm
1990A Wind Named AmnesiaFilm
1992Tokyo BabylonOAV
1993Tokyo Babylon 2OAV
1993Patlabor 2: The MovieFilm[45]
1997This Is the SeaFilm[1]

Television series[45]

2008Azur & Asmar: The Princes' QuestFilm[1]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 "George Roubicek." Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on August 31, 2010.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Graydon, Danny (May 2004). "Monkey returns!" SFX visits new recording sessions for previously unseen episodes." SFX.
  3. 3.0 3.1 SWInsider "The Men Who Built the Empire"—Star Wars Insider 96
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lofficier, Jean-Marc (2003). The Doctor Who Programme Guide (4 ed.). London: iUniverse. p. 65-66. ISBN 0595276180.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Barnes, Alan and Hearn, Marcus. (1997) Kiss Kiss Bang! Bang!: The Unofficial James Bond Film Companion. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 81. ISBN 071348182X.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brosnan, John (1981). James Bond in the Cinema. New Haven, Connecticut: A.S. Barnes p. 307. ISBN 0498025462.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Rogers, Dave (1989). The Complete Avengers: The Full Story of Britian's Smash Crime-Fighting Team!. New York City, New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 53 ISBN 0312031874.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "X (movie)". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Holden, Stephen (January 5, 1999). "A Gadget-Mad America, Through Japanese Eyes". The New York Times: p. C8.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Lee, Nathan (October 17, 2008). "Azur & Asmar." The New York Times: p. C8.
  11. Stephens, Francis (1958). Theatre World Annual (9 vol.). London: Rockcliff Publishing Corporation. p. 31.
  12. Christie, Agatha (1958). Verdict (script) London: Samuel French Ltd. p. 4. ISBN 057361931X.
  13. Blum, Daniel (1992). Screen World 1959 (1 vol.). Biblo & Tannen Booksellers & Publishers, Inc. p. 184. ISBN 0819602655.
  14. Young, R.G. (2000). The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. Berkeley, California: Applause Books. p. 59. ISBN 1557832692.
  15. American Film Institute (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1961-1970 (1 ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 134. ISBN 0520209702.
  16. American Film Institute, p. 1175
  17. American Film Institute, p. 75
  18. American Film Institute, p. 264
  19. Young, p. 51
  20. Cartmel, Andrew (2005). Through Time: An Unauthorised and Unofficial History of Doctor Who. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 59. ISBN 0826417345.
  21. Cull, Nicholas J. (2005). "Tardis at the OK Corral: Doctor Who and the USA." in Cook, John R. and Wright, Peter. British Science Fiction Television: A Hitchhiker's Guide. New York City, New York: I. B. Tauris. p. 56. ISBN 184511048X.
  22. Rogers, p. 181
  23. "Mogul." Time & Tide Business World 46: 185. 1965.
  24. Lentz, Harris M. (1994) Science fiction, horror & fantasy film and television credits (1 ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 53 ISBN 0899509274.
  25. Speed, F. Maurice and Cameron-Wilson, James (1978). Film review, Issues 38-43. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 161.
  26. Lentz, Harris M. (2001). Science Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Film and Television Credits: Television Shows. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 2200 ISBN 0786409525.
  27. Willis, John A. (1971). Screen world (21 vol.). Crown Publishing Group. p. 176.
  28. Quinlan, David (1984). British Sound Films: The Studio Years 1928-1959. Batsford Ltd. p. 185 ISBN 0713418745.
  29. Mayer, Geoff (1989). Roy Ward Baker. New York City, United Kingdom: Manchester University Press. p. 209 ISBN 071906354X.
  30. Pertwee, Bill (2009). Dad's Army: The Making of a Television Legend. Conway. p. 142. ISBN 1844861058.
  31. Greene, Graham (1975). Shades of Greene: The Televised Stories of Graham Greene. London: Heinemann. p. 95
  32. Ross, Robert (2004). "George Roubicek: Director" (Notes). Monkey: The Thirteen Lost Episodes (DVD). United Kingdom: Fabulous Films.
  33. A New Hope (1977), written and directed by George Lucas.
  34. Lucas, George (1998). Script Facsimile: Star Wars: Episode 4: A New Hope (1 ed.). LucasBooks. p. 11. ISBN 0345420802.
  35. Star Wars Customizable Card GamePremiere Limited (Card: Commander Praji)
  36. Wallace, Daniel and Peña, Abel G. (September 4, 2007). SWInsider "The Empire's Finest: Who's Who in the Imperial Military"—Star Wars Insider 96
  37. "REVIEW: Commander Praji 1/6 Scale." Plastic and Plush. June 1, 2008. Retrieved on August 31, 2010.
  38. SWicon More Autograph Stars Coming to Celebration V on (content now obsolete; backup link on
  39. "Guests | August 2010". Star Wars Celebration. 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  40. "Stars Shine at Celebration VI". Jedi Insider. March 3, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  41. "Celebration IV Convention Collectibles". 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  42. Paietta, Ann Catherine and Kauppila, Jean L. (1996). Health professionals on screen. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 17. ISBN 081083636X.
  43. Taylor, Jonathan (June 2, 1995). "The Infiltrator." Daily Variety.
  44. "Odin - Starlight Mutiny (movie)". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 45.4 45.5 "George ROUBICEK". Anime News Network. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  46. Clute, John and Grant, John (1997). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London: St. Martin's Griffin p. 67. ISBN 0312198698.
  47. Halliwell, Leslie (1995). Halliwell's Film Guide. New York City: HarperCollins p. 59. ISBN 0006384609.
  48. Lentz, Harris M. (2001) Science fiction, horror & fantasy film and television credits: Filmography (2 ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 1404 ISBN 0786409517.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Phillips, Michael (January 2, 2009). "Magical, musical animated journeys." Chicago Tribune: p. C6.
  50. George Roubicek (actor). July 28, 2008. George Roubicek Interview, Azur & Asmar: The Princes' Quest (DVD, Region 2). London: Soda Pop.

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