Imahara joined MythBusters in its third season in 2005 after an invitation from host Jamie Hyneman. For more than 200 episodes, Imahara, lovingly referred to as the “geek” of the show’s build team, wowed audiences by bringing tech to life through his ability to design and operate complex robotics that helped test myths in subjects ranging from skydiving to driving stunt cars.
Colleagues and friends took to social media to express their devastation at the engineer’s sudden death.
Adam Savage, a former co-host who also worked with Imahara at Lucasfilm, said he had “been part of two big families of Grant Imahara over the last 22 years”, and that he was honoured to call him a friend.
“I’m at a loss. No words,” Savage tweeted. “Grant was a truly brilliant engineer, artist and performer, but also just such a generous, easygoing, and gentle PERSON. Working with Grant was so much fun. I’ll miss my friend.”
Kari Byron, who was a part of the MythBusters build team with Imahara, posted photos on Instagram with the caption, “Somedays I wish I had a time machine.” Her shock was echoed by Tory Belleci, another member of their team.
“I just cannot believe it. I don’t even know what to say,” Belleci tweeted. “My heart is broken. Goodbye buddy.”
Imahara was born on October 23, 1970 in Los Angeles. He saw science fiction, namely the droids in Star Wars, as an inspiration for creating and engineering robots.
Before Imahara joined MythBusters in 2005, he was a decorated engineer at Lucasfilm, where he worked in the company’s visual effects department for nine years on blockbuster trilogies such as the Star Wars prequels and The Matrix. He was one of the few officially trained operators for R2-D2, the beloved droid of the Star Wars universe, Discovery said.
In addition to engineering the rhythmic beat for the Energizer Bunny in its TV commercials, he was responsible for creating “Geoff Peterson,” deemed by Imahara as “the world’s first robotic skeleton sidekick” for host Craig Ferguson of The Late Late Show.
“I will be forever grateful to him for designing, building and maintaining Geoff Peterson,” tweeted Ferguson early on Tuesday, who said he was “shocked and sad” over Imahara’s death.
After departing MythBusters in 2014, Imahara hosted Netflix’s The White Rabbit Project, reuniting with former colleagues Byron and Belleci for another science investigation show in 2016. The series lasted one season.
On social media, fans thanked him for his enthusiasm and passion, which influenced some to get into robotics. Others noted that his presence as a Japanese-American on television was inspirational.
“Grant was one of the reasons why I joined the robotics team in high school,” a fan tweeted, “I watched so much Mythbusters as a child and wanted to create things like he did.”
The Washington Post