Cameos abound in "Star Wars; The Force Awakens," but some more subtly than others. If you haven't seen the film yet and don't want some of the most surprising, albeit brief, appearances in the film spoiled, it's best you turn back now. Besides which, there are major story spoilers ahead, so consider this your warning.
We all know that's Simon Pegg inside Unkar Plutt
in Maz Kanata watering hole at the Jakku junkyard, but as it turns out, there are even harder to catch appearances by fan favorites inside Maz Kanata's castle. When Rey (Daisy Ridley) comes across Luke Skywalker's lightsaber in a box in the basement, she's thrust into a vision sequence of flashbacks she both has and hasn't experienced first hand. As J.J. Abrams revealed to Entertainment Weekly, it's during that scene that we hear the voices of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda.
“The idea of the voices was, we wanted the audience to feel – but not necessarily be presented right in your face — this idea that familiar, Force-strong voices were connecting with her. At least as well as they could,” Abrams explained. To that end, he brought in Ewan McGregor (Obi-Wan in Episodes I-III) and Frank Oz (Yoda) to provide some voiceover during that scene. “You do hear a little bit of Yoda. You hear Luke yelling out, ‘Nooo!’ from that moment in 'Empire.' And you hear Obi-Wan at the end say, ‘Rey … these are your first steps,’” Abrams revealed.
However, that Obi-Wan line isn't entirely McGregor's doing. Abrams' Bad Robot collaborator and "The Force Awakens" producer Bryan Burk was working on the scene when he surprised Abrams with a voice saying "Rey." “I said, ‘That’s cool, is that the thing from Ewan McGregor?’” recounted Abrams. “He said ‘No, we took a line from Alec Guinness saying ‘Afraid.’” Guinness originated the role of Obi-Wan in the original trilogy, but passed away in 2000. Amazingly, editing down that single word gave Abrams exactly what he wanted. "They cut it, and you hear the performance – he’s saying it the way I would have begged Alec Guinness to have said it. It is so crazy perfect,” Abrams says. “So when you hear Obi-Wan talk to Rey it is both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor doing the voice.”
Like McGregor, Oz himself came into the studio to deliver his lines. "He was incredibly generous and came in to Bad Robot, where we had a recording area, and he was doing Yoda, saying a number of lines we gave to him,” Abrams recalled. “This whole experience has been one outrageous moment after another... He was very generous to say, ‘Whatever makes the movie better, I’m happy to help out."
McGregor provided his own "outrageous moment" on the day he recorded his own bit. “Here’s the cool part. We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”
The revelation of these cameos means there has still never been a Star Wars movie without the presence of Obi-Wan Kenobi.