Grant Imahara, a fan-favorite co-host of the Discovery Channel series Mythbusters and Netflix's White Rabbit Project, died suddenly on Monday. He was 49. Imahara was an experienced electrical engineer and roboticist who broke into the entertainment world through his work at Lucasfilm's THX and Industrial Light and Magic before working on several major blockbusters.
"We are heartbroken to hear this sad news about Grant. He was an important part of our Discovery family and a really wonderful man. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," the Discovery Channel said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Monday. Kary Byron, who worked with Imahara on MythBusters and White Rabbit Project, confirmed the news, writing, "Somedays I wish I had a time machine." She included a photo of the two with their Mythbusters and White Rabbit Project colleague Tory Bellici.
Imahara, Bellici, and Byron made up the second team on Mythbusters until 2014 when all three left the show. The move caused an uproar among fans, and they reunited two years later for the short-lived White Rabbit Project on Netflix. Since then, Imahara has continued sharing his love of robotics on social media.
Imahara began working at Lucasfilm in 1993. While working at ILM, he worked on the Star Wars prequels, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix sequels, Van Helsing and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. His major work on the Star Wars prequels involved updating the R2-D2 droids and even made an appearance in the mockumentary R2-D2: Beneath The Dome. He transitioned into reality television when he joined Mythbusters to replace Scottie Chapman.
After Mythbusters, Imahara appeared on TableTop and worked as a judge on BattleBots in 2018. He also had a cameo appearance in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! in 2015 and played Sulu in the Star Trek fan series Star Trek Continues. Before his death, Imahara was working as a consultant Disney Research and mechanical designer at Spectral Motion, reports CNET.
In March, he built a custom animatronic Baby Yoda based on Star Wars: The Mandalorian, and video of it quickly went viral. In an interview with CNet, Imahara said he planned to bring the model to Southern California hospitals. "Baby Yoda is universally cute, hands down," Imahara said. "In the few public outings we've had, everyone melts. He's a happiness maker. Everything about him is designed to trigger the human nurturing instincts."