Star Wars has been a film phenomena since it first hit the silver screen in 1977, and now that Disney has purchased the rights and we are seeing new films being made, more and more people are getting involved. Back when it first launched, there weren’t a lot of big names tied to the production. Sure, there was Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and a few other familiar faces of the day, but most of the principal cast were all newcomers. That trend continues to this day with relative newcomers Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, but that doesn’t mean some big names aren’t putting on some makeup to make even the smallest of cameos.
Whenever a new Star Wars film is on the horizon, just about everyone who works in the business wants to be a part of it, even if they have to do so from behind a microphone or so much makeup you would never recognize them in a million years. We have gone through the credits and squinted really hard to find some of our favorite actors who have lent their voices or even their faces to the franchise over the years. Here are our picks for 15 Actors You Forgot Appeared in Star Wars.
15. BILL HADER
No, we aren’t suggesting they somehow crammed Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader into BB-8, but he worked alongside Ben Schwartz to create his voice. Hader is credited in the film as “BB-8 Vocal Consultant” with Schwartz, which may seem odd given the sounds made by the droid in the film, but there’s an interesting explanation as to how it was done.
J. J. Abrams took recordings of their voices and played them through a talkbox attached to an iPad, which was running a sound effects app. The result was the adorable sounding little droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Hader is probably best known for his work on SNL, but he has been steadily working in television and film for decades. In addition to his comedic acting, he has provided voice-acting for dozens of shows, video games and films, most recently voicing Fear in the film Inside Out.
14. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
Keira Knightley had a role everyone saw in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, even if they didn’t recognize her. She played Sabé, one of Queen Padmé Amidala’s handmaidens, who was always by her side and was the one who doubled as the Queen for much of the film. Few people recognized Knightley, who played a major role in the movie by rejecting Viceroy Nute Gunray’s efforts to have her sign the treaty, making the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo legal.
She again established a negotiation between the Naboo and the Gungans when she approached Boss Nass but was interrupted by the real Queen who took over negotiations. Knightley was four years away from her breakout role in The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, but her work on Star Wars definitely pushed her closer to the world’s attention.
13. JUDAH FRIEDLANDER
For Judah Friedlander, a longtime fan of Star Wars, his appearance credited simply as Bar Patron may have been the best work he has ever done. His time on set could probably be measured in minutes, given his appearance on screen lasted all of 0.25 seconds give or take millisecond or two.
Friedlander was just another one of the patrons at Maz Kantana’s bar when he appeared on screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans noticed his name in the credits and commented on his Twitter feed before anyone could identify exactly who he played. It didn’t take long to spot him as his makeup doesn’t exactly afford the most coverage, but there he is in all his glory. You only see him briefly after Maz screams for Han after he enters the bar, but he was there and when you’re an actor who loves Star Wars, that’s all that matters.
12. SOFIA COPPOLA
While she didn’t have as large a role as Keira Knightley, Sofia Coppola was another of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens named Saché in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Coppola’s time on the set was more of a favor to her than anything else. When asked about her part, she explained, “I asked George if I could come and watch the shoot, and he asked if I wanted to be in the royal entourage. (…) I’m at the back with a hood on and you can’t really see me. I don’t even remember what my character was called.”
When the Queen fled Naboo to head to Coruscant, Saché was one of the handmaidens who remained alongside the proxy Queen so she didn’t get to go on all the adventures with the Jedi. She did attend the funeral of Qui-Gon Jinn, though!
11. GREG GRUNBERG
You may not know it, but J. J. Abrams has a best friend he grew up with who just so happens to be an actor. That essentially means that if Abrams is going to shoot a movie or television show, his old pal Greg Grunberg gets a part. Doing a buddy who isn’t all that great a favor may be the usual outcome of such an alliance, but with Grunberg being the talented actor he is, we get a character called Temmin “Snap” Wexley in The Force Awakens.
Snap didn’t have the most screen time, but he was an important character who was given a rather detailed backstory. It’s very likely we will get to see more of him in future episodes of the film series given the fan reaction and Abrams’ continued work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Episode IX, due out in 2017 and 2019 respectively.
10. LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA
Lin-Manuel Miranda has made a name for himself with his hit, Tony-award winning play, Hamilton, but he has lent his talents to none other than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The only difference between Miranda and the others on this list is that we don’t get to see his smiling mug on screen, but are treated to his talents with the songs, “Dobra Doompa” and “Jabba Flow“.
Miranda and Abrams sand the song together, or, more accurately, lent the vocals that were used in the film. “Dobra Doompa” and “Jabba Flow” was performed by the band, Shag Kava pictured in Maz Kanata’s bar. “Jabba Flow” has Huttese lyrics, which Miranda has spoken about, “I went to a website that had all the Huttese glossary of terms and it translates as, ‘No, lover, lover. It wasn’t me.’ It’s literally a Shaggy intergalactic remix.”
9. JESSICA HENWICK
Jessica Henwick is probably best known for her work playing Nymeria Sand on Game of Thrones or, more recently, Colleen Wing on Iron Fist, but she also lit up the screen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Jess “Testor” Pava.
Testor was one of the X-Wing Fighter pilots for the resistance who went by the callsign Blue Three. She fought in the Blue Squadron and Black Squadron in a T-70 and was one of the survivors who made it all the way to the end of the film. Since she made it to the end, it’s likely we will get to see more of Ms. Pava in the films to come and considering her Game of Thrones character is no longer with us, she just might have the time to get back into the cockpit.
8. ROSE BYRNE
Rose Byrne is probably best known to readers of this site from her performance(s) as Moira MacTaggert in Fox’s X-Men: First Class, but she played a part in Star Wars lore as Dormé in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Dormé was another handmaiden to Padmé Amidala, but when she was the good Senator from Naboo and not the Queen.
Dormé survived the many assassination attempts made against the Senator after traveling from Naboo to Coruscant during the Separatist Crisis. Attack of the Clones was Byrne’s fifth film credit and seeing as she has continued to work in film steadily since that time, landing a role in a Star Wars film was probably a good boost for her career. Her next film appearance will be in Peter Rabbit as the character Bea in 2018.
7. KEVIN SMITH
Anyone who knows a thing about Kevin Smith should have known he would go out of his way to land a role on The Force Awakens and we do mean any role. You probably never thought you would see him as a Stormtrooper, but that’s exactly the role he got and he was even given a line of dialogue!
It’s easy to miss him on screen, which is one of the reasons we threw up an image of a random First Order Stormtrooper. Smith’s voice was lent to one of the Stormtroopers who yells “We have incoming at 28.6! Move!” during the attack at Maz’s castle. Granted, it was just his voice… perhaps he’s a little short to be a Stormtrooper, but that hardly matters. He can go to his grave knowing he played a part in Star Wars and really, that’s all that matters to a fan like Smith.
6. JOHN RATZENBERGER
While he was one of the main characters on the hit series Cheers playing Cliff Claven, Ratzenberger was also a heavy hitter during the Battle of Hoth in Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back, where he played Major Bren Derlin. Major Derlin was the Operations and Security Chief at Echo Base when it was attacked by the Empire. He was the one who ordered the closing of the base door so as not to put the entire base at risk while Han Solo was out looking for Luke Skywalker.
After serving at the Battle of Hoth, he continued his service to the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Endor in Star Wars Return of the Jedi though this is only referred to as the character. Ratzenberger was never seen in the series. These days, he spends his time behind the microphone, having lent his talents to every Pixar film.
5. DANIEL CRAIG
You might think that a guy who locked down one of the biggest movie franchises in history as none other than James Bond would be ok to let a Star Wars film hit theaters without his playing a part, but then there’s Daniel Craig. Craig was not only able to take part in The Force Awakens but was able to get a pivotal role. In the scene where Rey suddenly learns how to use the Jedi Mind Trick against a Stormtrooper who ultimately lets her go, that Trooper is played by good ol’ 007!
Like many of the other celebrity walk-ons, his role wasn’t immediately revealed until the film finally came out. He even denied it multiple times in interviews leading up to the premiere, “Why would I ever bother doing something like that?” F—ing hell! Pffft. Play an extra in another movie.”
4. TIM CURRY
Tim Curry has played some memorable characters over the years from Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the original TV miniseries version of Steven King’s It to Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that he also landed the role of the vilest SOB in the entire galaxy when he played Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
You know your acting chops and unique voice are something special to land a role like that and anyone who has seen the show knows just how well Curry played it. Sadly, Curry suffered a stroke in 2012 and is now bound to a wheelchair, but he continues to work lending his insidiously talented voice to other projects.
3. KATEE SACKHOFF
Katee Sackhoff is well known to the world of science fiction thanks to her role of Capt. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on the new Battlestar Galactica, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t going to do a series crossover and take on the role of Bo-Katan Kryze on Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Bo-Katan Kryze was the leader of the Nite Owls and a lieutenant in Death Watch so she wasn’t the nicest of folks.
She appeared in several episodes of Clone Wars and will return to television in the animated series Star Wars Rebels for two episodes in 2017. Sackhoff continues to work in Hollywood and clearly enjoys the genre due to her casting as Amunet Black, a.k.a. Blacksmith on The CW’s The Flash beginning in season three. She has also lent her voice to numerous video games and has appeared in films to include 2013’s Riddick.
2. SIMON PEGG
Hopefully, nobody looked at Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens and said, “Hey! That’s Simon Pegg!” Seriously, though, how could you? Most people thought he was a CGI creation, but the character was actually a practical effect and Pegg was stuck in the suit! Pegg, an established nerd, and lover of the franchise, is also an old friend of Abrams, so he would stop by the set from time-to-time and offer his advice on various things.
Abrams described him as a sounding board who helped him creatively on set. Concerning his role in the film (prior to its release), Abrams had this to say: “I will say this in terms of Simon: while he won’t be recognizable in the movie, in all honesty, his role in this – not the performance or the character – but his support and friendship has been massively important and helpful in the process.”
1. GEORGE TAKEI
Absolutely nobody who knows George Takei looks in his direction and thinks Star Wars. The man played Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek for crying out loud and as any nerd/Trekkie/geek knows, the two universes that just don’t mix are Star Wars and Star Trek. That may have been true at one point, but Simon Pegg has crossed over and so has Takei, who plays Lok Durd, a male Neimodian on Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Granted, you probably don’t see a lot of Takei in Lok Durd’s appearance — at least, we hope you don’t, but his recognizable voice knocks the character out of the park Takei’s work on Star Trek is well known, but outside of Hollywood, he is a prominent supporter of Japanese-American rights, having once been interred during WWII simply for being of Japanese heritage, as well as a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights.
Did any of these surprise you or are you fan enough to have known them all? Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
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