He was one of George Lucas’s original team of F/X wizards who in 1978 took home an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (which he shared with John Dykstra) for his work on R2-D2 and all those wonderful creatures from the 1977 Star Wars. (In addition to his work as chief modelmaker for the groundbreaking film, he also appeared as a Death Star Gunner.) Grant McCune died of complications from cancer on Monday. He was 67. Described as a “quiet but crucial” innovator who specialized in models and miniatures, Grant McCune was one of Hollywood’s best known special and visual effects artists pumping out designs for over 100 films, spanning decades of sci-fi and action classics, from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Ghostbusters II to Speed to Batman Forever to Spider-Man 2.
McCune worked as miniature supervisor for Apogee Inc. on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects in 1980, sharing with Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Richard Yuricich, Robert Swarthe, and David K. Stewart. He was chief model maker on the 1978 pilot for Battlestar Galactica and again worked with Apogee as chief model maker on the sci-fi thriller Firefox. His other credits include Avalanache Express (1979), Caddyshack 1980), Lifeforce 1985), Jackals (1986), Spaceballs (1987), My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), Ghostbusters II (1989). Since the early ’90s, he was miniature supervisor for his own company Grant McCune Design located in Van Nuys and worked on Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994), Executive Decision (1996), Daylight (1996), and Sphere (1998). He also worked as special effects supervisor on Thirteen Days (2000).