Lawrence G. Paull, a production designer best known for his work on the iconic films Blade Runner and Back to the Future, has passed away. The Academy Award nominee, who also worked on Romancing the Stone, City Slickers, and Escape From L.A., was 81 years old. The Hollywood Reporter first reported his passing. Paull’s Hollywood career spanned decades, and he worked on dozens of films and TV productions. He would go on, after his 2004 retirement, to become a teacher, first at the AFI in Los Angeles and later at Chapman University at Irvine. In both cases he was key to creating a curriculum that would help teach a new generation of filmmakers.
Paull’s Hollywood career began in 1970 as an art director on Little Fauss and Big Halsy, and by 1971 he had already earned his first production designer credit on Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand. In addition to the big-name projects like Coccoon: The Return, Predator 2, and Naked Gun 33 1/3, Paull found work on movies like the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman movie License to Drive. He also worked on the Chevy Chase/Daryl Hannah movie Memoirs of an Invisible Man, which starred Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill.
“Ridley really knew how to appeal to the art department, he was very wise about it,” Paull once said of Blade Runner director Ridley Scott. “What he would say, up in the art department: ‘If you build it, I’ll shoot it.’ And who could resist the temptation of that? Because we’ve all suffered, making films with gigantic sets, and beautiful sets, and all that is shown are talking heads. And that was disappointing. But because [Ridley] was an art director, he knew he could hook us with that bait. And he did it — if we built it, he shot it.”
While Paull missed out on the Academy Award for production design in 1982 (he was nominated for Blade Runner but the award went to Gandhi), he scored a BAFTA award that year and a further BAFTA nomination for Back to the Future shortly after.
Per THR, survivors include his wife of 36 years, Marcy; his son, Michael, president of Disney Streaming Services, his sister, Lesley; and his brother-in-law, Craig. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made in his memory to the charity of your choice.
Paull, who rarely gave interviews and could likely be intuited to be somewhat private, will have no public memorial services.