|Conan Antonio Motti|
|Chronological and political information|
Conan Antonio Motti was an Imperial officer who served onboard the Death Star as the head of Naval operations during the Galactic Civil War. Born into a powerful and wealthy family, he entered Imperial service, rising rapidly through the ranks of the Imperial Navy. It was not long before he advanced past Captain Jaim Helaw, who he had served under early in his career. By 0 BBY, he had been promoted to the rank of admiral, and was working onboard the Empire's massive battlestation, the Death Star. Only Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin outranked Motti on the battlestation, although General Cassio Tagge—his counterpart in the Imperial Army—was his equal.
Motti was extremely confident in his viewpoint that the Death Star was invulnerable, believing that the Rebel Alliance posed no threat to the station. He was even bold and arrogant enough to openly question Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader for his failure to discover the location of the Rebellion's secret base during one meeting in the Death Star conference room. For this, Vader Force-choked him, which greatly frightened Motti, who realized that Vader could have easily killed him had Tarkin not ordered the Dark Lord to relent. Nonetheless, Motti remained overly-confident in himself and the Death Star. Despite Motti's unshakable credence in the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance—which had obtained a copy of the Death Star blueprints—managed to find a weak spot in the station's defenses, and succeeded in destroying it during the Battle of Yavin, killing Motti.
Conan Antonio Motti was born into a powerful and influential family sometime during the last years of the Galactic Republic. During the Clone Wars, he witnessed the feats of Jedi, memories that would remain with him for his whole life. After the rise of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, Motti, now serving in the Imperial Navy, ascended quickly through the Imperial ranks. He served onboard the Strike-class cruiser Ion Storm under Captain Jaim Helaw, who acted as somewhat of a mentor to him, and soon received a promotion to first lieutenant. Eventually, he worked a brief stint on Coruscant, and with the help of contacts he had made on the capital, he rose past Helaw.
By 0 BBY, Motti, who had achieved the rank of admiral, was serving onboard the Death Star, the Empire's new superweapon being constructed above Despayre. He was second-in-command alongside General Cassio Tagge, below only Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, coincidentally a relative of Motti's through marriage. The three were considered a triumvirate, with Motti representing the Imperial Navy and Tagge the Imperial Army, although Motti and Tagge had a rivalry and would openly doubt the other's competence. The admiral had been one of the strongest supporters of the Death Star project, and felt that it was him, not Tarkin, who ran the battlestation's daily operations. He had attempted at least once to subtly convince Tarkin that whoever was in control of the Death Star held sway over the entire galaxy. Though Palpatine, ruling from Coruscant, was the Emperor, Motti was convinced that if Tarkin attempted to seize power by using the Death Star, he would be successful. Then, if something were to "accidentally" happen to Emperor Tarkin, his trusted assistant Motti would rise to power. Thus, Motti pretended to be loyal to the Grand Moff, all the while learning the ins and outs of the superweapon and gaining the loyalties of other key officers onboard the Death Star. During this time, he also commanded the Imperial-class Star Destroyer Steel Talon, which was part of the fleet guarding the Death Star above Despayre.
As Tarkin was traveling to the Death Star from his home planet of Eriadu onboard a Lambda-class T-4a shuttle piloted by his Mon Calamari slave Ackbar, the ship was ambushed by Rebel Alliance Y-wings that had been contacted by Ackbar, who sought freedom from his master. However, before the Y-wings could destroy the escape pod that Tarkin had attempted to flee in, Motti's Star Destroyer jumped out of hyperspace, as Motti had taken it upon himself to escort Tarkin against the Grand Moff's wishes. Thanks to the admiral, Tarkin was saved, and the Rebel Y-wings forced to flee.
Back above Despayre, with the Death Star nearing completion, Motti met with Jaim Helaw onboard the Undauntable. The two spoke about the Death Star, with Motti expressing his confidence in the battlestation, professing his belief that it would be invincible when completed. However, Helaw did not share his viewpoint, telling him the story of Kan Pojo, a former Republic soldier and expert marksman. On a mission to the Vergesso Asteroids to defeat a pirate gang around 35 BBY, Pojo's blaster malfunctioned when he was in the act of shooting at a pirate charging him. Before the marksman could pull his other gun, the pirate was on him, killing Pojo with a crude knife. When Motti stated that the Death Star was no mere blaster, Helaw responded that the more complex a weapon was, the more likely it was to have flaws. As he traveled back to the Death Star alone onboard his ship a short time later, Motti found himself wondering about Helaw's point. He decided that unlikely as an accident was, he would soon order a detailed examination of the station's superstructure.
While Motti was pondering this on the way back to the space station, the Undauntable suddenly exploded. Once the admiral landed in one of the Death Star's hangars, he met with Tarkin, who began questioning him. Motti explained that he had played no part in the ship's destruction, and that an officer of Jaim Helaw's stature would not be responsible for an accident of such large-scale. Therefore, he felt it had to be sabotage, a view the Grand Moff shared. However, fearing a visit from Darth Vader, the Emperor's lackey, Tarkin proposed that they simply record the incident as an accident while surreptitiously investigating the true cause. Though he hated to see such a stain on Jaim Helaw's record, Motti agreed, fully aware that it was best for him too without Darth Vader interfering and possibly slowing construction of the station.
Several weeks after the Undauntable's explosion, the Rebel Alliance launched an attack on the nearly completed Death Star above Despayre. It was there that the men onboard were given the first chance to test the massive superlaser. The laser easily destroyed a Rebel Lucrehulk-class battleship, leaving the Rebel X-wings without a supporting cruiser. The X-wings were then wiped out by Imperial pilots, giving the Imperials total victory in the brief skirmish. Following the battle, Tarkin decided to move the battlestation to the other side of Despayre to prevent further attacks by the Rebellion.
Not long after the battle, Tarkin decided to test the superlaser and move the station from the system, planning to destroy Despayre as well. Motti had his doubts, and voiced them; namely, fear of political repercussion. However, as Despayre was simply a penal planet for some of the Empire's worst criminals, Tarkin was sure that no fallout would ensue. Ultimately, he was the one in command of the battlestation, and went ahead with the test. The superlaser easily destroyed Despayre.
Following the destruction of Despayre, a group of top Imperial officials onboard the Death Star gathered for a meeting in the Death Star conference room. Motti was present, arguing with General Tagge over the effectiveness of the Death Star and the threat of the Rebellion in the Galactic Civil War. Tagge felt that the Rebel Alliance posed a threat to the battlestation, whereas Motti was confident that the superweapon was invincible. Tagge also feared that the growing Rebel movement would gain sympathy in the Senate. However, the two were interrupted by Tarkin, who informed the officers present that the Imperial Senate had been dissolved by Emperor Palpatine. The Moffs, governors appointed by Palpatine, would now have direct control over sectors, and the planets would not dare step out of line due to fear of the Death Star. However, Tagge continued to insist that the Rebellion was dangerous, especially if they had obtained a copy of the Death Star plans, as many Imperials feared following the Battle of Tatooine. Though Darth Vader—who had recently arrived to interrogate Princess Leia Organa, a member of the Rebel Alliance who was believed to have been involved in stealing a set of stolen Death Star plans—admitted that the plans were in the hands of the Rebellion, he proclaimed that soon the Empire would have them.
Motti then boasted of the Death Star's power, claiming that it was the preeminent power in the galaxy. However, Vader rebutted this claim, warning Motti not to underestimate the power of the Force. Motti mocked Vader, laughing at his devotion to the Force, alleging that it had not helped him recover the stolen Death Star plans. In response, Vader simply Force-choked him, relenting only when ordered to do so by Tarkin. Motti, who had previously doubted both Vader and the power of the Force, was frightened and shocked by this display. The admiral knew that Vader would have killed him without remorse had Tarkin not stopped him, a realization that shook him greatly.
Much to Tarkin and Darth Vader's chagrin, the Dark Lord was unable to force the location of the Rebel Alliance's secret base or the Death Star plans from Organa. Tarkin then decided to play his trump card. He took the Death Star to Organa's home planet of Alderaan, and with her alongside him, Motti and Vader in the Death Star's control room, threatened to destroy the planet if she did not reveal the location of the Alliance's base. Defeated at last, Organa informed them that the base was on Dantooine. Tarkin then ordered the Death Star's superlaser to fire when ready, shocking the princess. He felt that this would be a demonstration that would terrify the rest of the galaxy—fear would keep dissidents in line. Motti gave the order to superlaser control, and then the battlestation fired, destroying Alderaan.
A short time later, Imperial ships reached Dantooine, and discovered that while there was a Rebel base there, it had been abandoned a long time ago—meaning that Organa had lied. A short time after this discovery, with Organa back in her cell, a group of Rebels managed to make it onboard the Death Star, and succeeded in freeing Organa. They then fled in their ship, the Millennium Falcon. However, a tracking device had been placed onboard the starship by Imperial stormtroopers earlier, enabling the Empire to track the freighter to Yavin 4, a moon located in the Yavin system in the Outer Rim.
The Death Star jumped to hyperspace, arriving in the Yavin system, where the Rebel Alliance was preparing an attack. The Alliance's defense of its base consisted of thirty starfighters, catching the Imperials off-guard, as Tarkin had expected to be opposed by several capital ships. Confident in the ability of the Death Star's turbolasers and other anti-starfighter defenses to repel the Alliance's fighters, he withheld from launching Imperial TIE Fighters. Meanwhile, the Alliance was aware of a flaw in the Death Star—a small, uncovered thermal exhaust port leading directly to the station's main reactor. Against all odds, and much to Tarkin and Motti's surprise, a Rebel X-wing succeeded in flying through the trench where the exhaust port was located, and successfully fired a pair of proton torpedoes into the shaft, causing the Death Star to explode, instantly killing Motti, and all those on board.
Conan Antonio Motti was a deeply ambitious man, a fact acknowledged by Tarkin. The Grand Moff held the opinion that once the Rebels were destroyed, Motti would receive a promotion to Moff. Indeed, the admiral was very ambitious, and though he seemed loyal to Emperor Palpatine, in truth Motti harbored dreams of becoming Emperor himself. He attempted to convert Tarkin to his cause, trying to convince the Grand Moff that whoever controlled the Death Star could control the galaxy. Motti hoped that Tarkin would soon listen to him, and use the Death Star to seize power from Palpatine. If Tarkin did overthrow Palpatine, the admiral would then cause Tarkin's death in a subtle way, allowing him to ultimately become Emperor. However, he never received this chance, as the Death Star was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance shortly after its completion.
Motti pretended to be loyal to Tarkin, though in truth it was in an act, designed to fool the Grand Moff and ensure that he trusted Motti, so that if the admiral ever decided to betray him, Tarkin would be caught unaware. To further this facade, Motti pretended to be sympathetic towards Tarkin when his mistress, Admiral Natasi Daala, was injured in the Battle of Despayre. He was even prepared to feign sadness in the event that Daala died, hoping to curry favor with the Grand Moff. Motti was also aware that if he did not act appropriately disheartened, Tarkin would be greatly insulted, and the admiral knew that it was not wise to offend Tarkin. Motti considered Tarkin's affection for Daala a weakness, and was prepared to one day exploit that.
Motti felt that women were inferior to men, believing that Daala did not deserve her rank of admiral, and that she would not have achieved it if Tarkin had not taken favor to her. He thought that Leia Organa had a strong spirit due to her refusing to give up the location of the Rebel base, and because she criticized and insulted Tarkin even when he threatened to execute her. Motti was impressed with her determination to not surrender, believing that this fortitude was especially stunning in a woman.
Motti was also a very arrogant man, overly-confident in himself and the Death Star. He was aware of how quickly he had risen through the Imperial ranks, and that he had jumped ahead of a number of more experience officers to his position as head of Navy Operations onboard the Death Star. This was reflected in his attitude, as he frequently wore a wore smug look and took extra pride in ensuring that his uniform was even neater than required by Imperial standards. He also prided himself on being physically fit, and regularly exercised, hoping to never become a fat, lazy officer like so many others. Motti felt that being physically stronger than others was a symbol of power, and would earn him additional respect.
Though he very highly valued his political and tactical skills, Motti was considered somewhat of an overrated leader by many, who felt that his only real skill lay in loyalty to Palpatine's Empire, and that he had padded his record. In fact, Motti had little actual command experience, and embellished his reports, making himself appear more capable than he was in reality. It was thanks mainly to his many connections that he rose through the ranks as rapidly as he did, although he believed strongly in his own abilities.
Admiral Motti questioned the Force, and disliked Vader, feeling that he used archaic methods, and heavily criticized the Dark Lord for his failure to wrest the location of the Rebel base from Princess Leia Organa. For this criticism, Vader Force-choked him. Following this, Motti was mollified, and began to develop a fear of Vader and his mysterious powers. The admiral knew that had Tarkin not interfered, Vader would have killed him, a deeply sobering thought to him. Though he did not consider himself cowardly, Motti was frightened by Vader, aware that controlling a planet-destroying superweapon meant nothing if he could be simply killed by a gesture. Following this, Motti planned to eliminate Vader somehow, although he was aware that such an act would have to be done very carefully.
Tarkin was cognizant of Motti's fear and hatred of Vader and his Force, and believed that if Motti did not do a better job of keeping his opinions to himself, he would not live much longer in Palpatine's Empire. The admiral doubted the Force, even mocking Vader's confidence in it until Vader Force-choked him as a warning. He preferred to place his confidence in technology, and he remained extremely certain of the Death Star's invulnerability throughout his life.
He believed in the Tarkin doctrine, which stated that the threat of force was sufficient enough to prevent rebellions, and that fear was necessary to keep dissidents in line. Ultimately, this belief was flawed, as the Destruction of Alderaan did not cause other planets to cower in fear, but instead to rise up in anger and challenge the Empire—which led to the Death Star's destruction and Motti's death.
Motti first appeared in A New Hope, released in 1977. He was played by Richard LeParmentier, who was credited as "Admiral Motti". LeParmentier was one of the few non-English actors cast as Imperial officers and as such, is one of the only Imperial officers in the original trilogy to speak without an English accent.
Early scripts of A New Hope shuffled the names of Admiral Motti and General Tagge. He is absent from the Death Star meeting scene in the novelization of A New Hope, and instead it is General Tagge who is the victim of Vader's telekinetic stranglehold while Motti himself is replaced by a new Imperial officer named Romodi. Motti does appear later on in the novel, proving that he and Romodi are different characters. Nonetheless, Leland Chee still confirmed that Romodi is a senator and a different character than Motti.
Motti was one of the last Imperial characters from the original trilogy to receive a full name. However, Michael Reaves and Steve Perry intended to finally give the character a first name with their 2007 novel Death Star, and had already chosen the name "Zi"—used in the as-yet unpublished novel—when George Lucas created his own name for the character on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Following this, the writers were forced to change the name before printing, although one instance of "Zi" remains in the novel. Motti's full name was given by Lucas on the May 1, 2007 episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, during which Lucas was challenged to a trivia question by a fan—O'Brien Associate Producer Jordan Schlanski—as to the name of this Imperial officer who Darth Vader Force-chokes in A New Hope. Lucas jokingly replied "Conan Antonio Motti,", after O'Brien's full name. Although the character had previously been known only as "Motti," Lucas's statement finally gave a full name to this character. On the day after the episode aired, Late Night posted a blog entry on the NBC website about their surprise at Wookieepedia's quick response in adopting the new name for the character, and their appreciation for Lucas in naming a Star Wars character after O'Brien.
When asked at Celebration IV to confirm the canon status of Motti's first name, Leland Chee said that "It'll be revealed eventually,". The name was finally confirmed when Sue Rostoni posted the dramatis persona for Death Star on the StarWars.com message boards.
The actor who portrayed Motti, Richard LeParmentier, has stated that he is pleased to be remembered as Motti, and that he considers it an honor to have been part of Star Wars. LeParmentier is producing an animated fan film called Motti Now, in which Motti survives the Battle of Yavin and abandons the Empire.
In Star Wars 2: Six Against the Galaxy, Motti is shown at first with white hair, and is later shown as having blond hair.
Motti makes an appearance in the non-canon comic Tag and Bink Are Dead. In it, he encounters the rebels-turned stormtroopers, Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna on the Death Star. After he bumps into them, Motti informs the duo that this is his Death Star and orders them to show some respect. Later, after the pair unintentionally lets the Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi deactivate the Death Star's tractor beam, Motti again encounters them, and confines them to quarters, warning the two of them that Vader or Tarkin would have them killed for such an offense if they were caught by one of those two.