I met Grant Imahara back in 1997 when I stepped through the doors of the ILM model shop. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. Then this young kid, at least that’s what I thought, with a bounce in his step, wearing thick glasses and a lab coat walked up, smiled and in a chipper voice said,”Hello!” and I immediately felt at ease. That was Grant, always welcoming, always helpful and always ready to solve a problem. We worked on a lot of projects at Lucas Films, but building models for Star Wars in our minds was the Holy Grail. We had made it. We’d achieved our lifelong geek dream. Little did we know that from that point we would end up working together for over two decades.
When he joined the team on “Mythbusters,” it was a perfect fit. He brought a new technical aspect to the show that we were missing. He was actually the only one of the cast with a science degree—and he loved reminding everyone about that. He was a master of robots, an encyclopedia of sci-fi trivia, and an inspiration to all. We quickly realized the addition of Grant was key and made the team greater than the sum of its parts.
Grant was a unique individual with a brilliant mind. He was passionate about creating and it showed in his incredible body of work. He was generous with his time, knowledge and skills and because of that he has left a huge void in this world both to his friends and family and to his fans. A wise Vulcan once said, “Change is the essential process of all existence.” This is the hardest change to accept. Gone way too soon, my friend. You will be missed.
Grant, you are more than a friend. (I can’t write that sentence in the past tense yet. I am crying and smiling as I type.) You have been a fixture in my life for two decades. When I first met you in the m5 workshop, you showed me pictures of your robots, and we giggled about how Jamie wanted me to sharpen used screws to save money. I was so impressed with your ILM model making skills, and I loved listening to your stories. You charmed me with your self-aware level of nerdiness, redefining what “cool” looked like. I quickly learned to count on you for enthusiasm and sarcasm, to laugh a little too loud at your own jokes, and how fun it was to disarm you with my dirty humor and bad puns. I loved that you invariably had the absolute worst taste in music but the best taste in friends.
If you drank too much you became the life of the party, doing your signature Pee-wee Herman dance on the bar, but still somehow got home early. You loved my dogs so much you let them lick you in the mouth, which was gross and incredibly sweet. You teased me like a sister, chasing me around with meaty or slimy things, and for some reason you always called me by my full name. You grit your teeth when I borrowed your sharpies because you said I always smashed the tip. And you never understood why I put your tools back in your toolbox slightly out of place. (I did it on purpose so you would give me that look.) Nothing made me more happy than when we argued and I was right, because you usually were.
Do you remember the time a producer made us weld on a runway in the rain? We worked through lunch and were so wet we made a complete circuit and kept electrocuting ourselves. Remember when we jumped fully clothed into a pool in the Bahamas because, well, it was the Bahamas? Do you think our studio neighbors remember the hook you shot right through their wall with an air cannon?
The three of us—you, Tory and I—we are beyond friends. We are siblings. We shared a long, wild adventure, learning from each other the whole way. Our cameraman nicknamed us Technical, Practical, and Logical because we were so different, but we could solve any problem together. I’ll never forget the Mojave Desert. We had two helicopters and two cars and one insane chance to get things right. When we hit our mark (literally: we dropped one car from the air while remotely driving the other towards a giant X on the desert floor), we ran together and hugged, jumping around in a circle, howling.
We cried and laughed and crashed: cars, planes, motorcycles, chickens, trucks, robots, pig carcasses, fake sharks. We stayed in the most questionable hotels and rode in so many dirty white minivans to far-off deserts and quarries. We gave blood, sweat, and tears (and so many more bodily fluids) to a television show that for us was like making the best home movie ever, but for a generation of fans was an invitation to question and experiment with their world. I am mad that you are gone. We weren’t done yet. You should have at least dared me to eat a bug one more time. I’d eat all the bugs in the world to have you back.