There’s a mythological conflict between Star Wars and Star Trek fans that exists more in the media than in real life; the truth is, there’s room in fans’ hearts for both, and there always has been. (Just don’t ask us which one is better.)
Without Star Trek, there might not have been Star Wars, and vice versa: without the popularity of 1977’s Star Wars, the Trek resurgence would probably have never happened. Both franchises have waxed and waned, and both are now rebooted and thriving. J.J. Abrams has become the force (heh) that unites them on the big screen, producing and sometimes directing movies on both sides of that sci-fi fence. Separately, Star Wars has an animated series on the air, and a new Trek series is on the way.
With an abundance of projects comes an abundance of roles, and there are quite a few actors who have had the honor of appearing — sometimes under make-up, sometimes as a voice behind animation, sometimes in the flesh — in both of them. Take a look at 15 Actors You Didn’t Realize Were In Both Star Wars And Star Trek.
15. George Takei
George Takei played Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek, the animated series, a Star Trek: Voyager episode, and six films. He didn’t start out at the helm; at the beginning of the first season he was head of astrosciences department. Later on, in the movies, he became captain of his own ship and even had a daughter, Demora.
His deep, rich voice was unmistakable on Star Wars: The Clone Wars as General Lok Durd of the Separatist Alliance. He was an arms developer who specialized in battlefield inventions, and was responsible for the Defoliator, a superweapon that was capable of destroying all organic life within a targeted area.
The original plan was to have Lok Durd become a recurring villain, but he ended up only making once appearance in the series. Something of a windbag, this quote sums him up nicely: “”I am General Lok Durd of the Separatist Alliance… you are now under the protection of the Separatist Alliance. I congratulate you on your good fortune.”
14. Patty Maloney
Maloney is memorable, not just for her height—she’s three feet, eleven inches—but because the woman has presence. In one of Star Trek: Voyager‘s creepier episodes, she was “the little woman” who was part of a group nightmare led by a clown (Michael McKean). They tormented three members of an alien species for years by trapping them in one horrible dream after another, and then captured some of the Voyager crew.
For Star Wars, she got to be a good guy instead of a bad one, and we do mean guy: she played Chewbacca’s 10 year-old son Lumpy in the notorious Star Wars Holiday Special. It aired in 1978, included the entire main cast from the movie, and has made George Lucas miserable for years, just because of its existence. In addition to the movie’s stars, it also featured a random assortment of ’70s talent like Jefferson Starship and Bea Arthur. Maloney says her personal highlight of the experience was getting picked up, literally, by Harrison Ford.
13. Greg Grunberg
Greg Grunberg is one of those actors who shows up just about everywhere, but he has a well-earned reputation for repeatedly appearing in J.J. Abrams projects. He was in Abrams’ very first TV series, Felicity, as well as his second one, Alias. He was killed by the Smoke Monster in Lost, and played a party guest in Mission: Impossible III,
His first Star Trek role was just a voice: he was Jim Kirk’s angry step-dad in the 2009 reboot. In Star Trek Beyond, he played Commander Finnegan—the name itself a nod to the original series—who was an officer on the Yorktown space station.
He also turned up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as Snap Wexley, an X-Wing pilot in Poe Dameron’s squadron. And Abrams isn’t his only director-buddy; pal Kevin Smith just cast him in a role in an episode of The Flash he’s directing. (The two of them have a late-night talk show together on AMC called Geeking Out.) Grunberg doesn’t seem to need the help getting gigs, but having friends who do cool projects puts him in some very iconic places.
12. George Coe
George Coe was one of the original “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” on the first season of Saturday Night Live, but only appeared in a few episodes. The Oscar-nominated actor joined two more iconic franchises later on, starting with a great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “First Contact.” He played Chancellor Avel Durken, who helped Picard find his missing officer (Riker), but in the end determined that his people weren’t ready to accept the reality that they were not alone in the universe.
In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series, he voiced Tee-Watt Kaa, a diehard pacifist who would rather see his people become the victims of genocide than engage in a war, even with the Jedi at his side. When his son stepped in to fight with the Jedi, they triumphed, but Tee-Watt Kaa remained worried about the effects on his people, and with good reason; as his second episode closed, Separatist ships were on their way.
Coe also turned up in the online multiplayer game Star Wars: The Old Republic, voicing Doctor Godera.
11. Ron Perlman
Ron Perlman, hidden under either gobs of make-up and prosthetics or animation in his Star Trek and Star Wars roles, is best-known, depending on what your viewing preferences are, as Vincent from the TV series Beauty and the Beast, Hellboy in the Hellboy movies, or Clay Morrow on Sons of Anarchy. The man gets around.
He also appeared in probably the least-liked of all the Star Trek movies, Star Trek: Nemesis, as the number one henchman and accomplice of Shinzon. The Reman Vicreroy used his telepathic abilities to stabilize Shinzon as his cellular structure weakened. He ended up battling for his life against Riker on a catwalk– a popular setting in both franchises for life-and-death-confrontations– and lost.
In Star Wars: The Clone Wars he provided the voice of scavenger Gha Nachkt. He was a salvage captian who briefly found himself in possession of R2-D2, successfully hid the android from Anakin Skywalker, but got stabbed in the back with a lightsaber by General Grievous when he asked for more money for R2 than they’d already agreed on.
10. Brian George
Brian George was born in Israel to Iraqi parents, which has made him fairly flexible in terms of playing characters of different backgrounds. TV watchers recognize him as restauranteur Babu Bhatt on Seinfeld, as well as Raj’s gynecologist father on The Big Bang Theory.
He turned up in the Trek universe twice. On Voyager, he was Ambassador O’Zaal, running an interstellar race that Tom Paris entered with the Delta Flyer. But his bigger contribution was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Richard Bashir, father to Julian. He surprised his son by at the station and eventually revealed his biggest secret: that Julian was genetically enhanced. Parents!
On Star Wars: The Clone Wars he did the voices for a number of different characters, but his most frequent role was that of the tall-headed Ki-Adi-Mundi, a member of the Jedi High Council with a binary brain. When Order 66 was put in motion by Palpatine, Ki-Adi-Mundi was killed by the clone troopers who used to be his allies.
9. Carel Struyken
It’s hard NOT to notice Carel Struyken. At 7 feet tall, he has a presence even when he doesn’t speak, as proven by his numerous appearances as Mr. Homn on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He played Lwaxana Troi’s valet who only spoke once, and yet you never forget that he was there.
In the Star Wars world, it only made sense for him to play a King. He was in the 1985 made-for-TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, another one of the specials George Lucas is likely interested in forgetting. In the movie– which is actually a sequel– he played an evil warlord king who was part of a band of pirates, and a murderer. He killed most of the Towani family– including another Trek guest star, as you’ll soon see — but in the end was defeated and destroyed by Wicket the Ewok.
8. Ethan Phillips
Ethan Phillips is most famous in the Star Trek world as Neelix from Voyager: ship’s cook, morale officer, and friend to all. A Talaxian who was eager to get on the ship for its abundant supply of water, he ended up becoming a valued member of the crew and stayed with them almost until the end of their journey. But Neelix wasn’t the only character he played on the franchise: he was also Farek, an angry Ferengi on TNG, a holographic maitre d’ in the movie Star Trek: First Contact, and Ulis, a Ferengi pirate, on Enterprise.
A prolific actor, playwright, and cookbook author, he found his way into the Star Wars universe via video gaming. To date, he has voiced characters in three different games: he’s in Star Wars: Force Commander as transport pilot Hamman Flatt, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds as an Empire medical droid, a Krantian governor, and a Royal grenade trooper, and in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic as some unnamed minor characters as well as Tamlen (pictured above) and Galon Lor, students who were “Force-sensitive” but chose to go down the dark path of the Sith.
7. Fionnula Flanagan
Flanagan has guest starred on Star Trek three times. The Irish actress was Juliana Tainer on TNG, wife to Noonien Soong, which sort of makes her Data’s mother. To clarify, she was an android who was given Juliana’s memories after she died, but she didn’t actually know that; she believed she was human. On Deep Space Nine, she was Enina Tandro, who had had an illicit affair with Curzon Dax, and on Enterprise, she was the Vulcan Ambassador V’Lar, who helped negotiate a treaty with Andoria.
In Star Wars? She was in the 1984 TV movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, about a human family stuck on the forest moon of Endor. When the parents got kidnapped, the kids teamed up with some Ewoks to rescue them. It all turned out great until the sequel, when audiences learned that her character, Catharine, had been killed by Carel Struycken’s King Terak, but Flanagan was no longer involved at that point, so we can remember her happily with her reunited children and her new furry friends.
6. Ian Abercrombie
Ian Abercrombie showed up on Voyager twice, although he’d done a little voiceover work for them already. On screen, he first was Abbot (above), a Kadi minister who was involved in trade negotiations with Voyager and liked to be addressed as “Your Holiness.” He came back two seasons later as Milo, a holographic resident of Fairhaven, a town created in the holodeck by the Voyager crew to help amuse and distract them on their long trip. Unaware of his status as a hologram, he witnessed some scary acts by the Voyager crew and suggested burning them at the stake.
He had a few different roles in Star Wars too, both in the animated Clone Wars film and the TV series, but mostly voice Darth Sidious, aka Palpatine, who had the distinction of being the last Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic and then, logically, the first Emperor of the Galactic Empire. He was the most powerful Sith Lord of all, orchestrating the downfall of the Republic.
5. Olivia d’Ab0
In 1992, during TNG‘s sixth season, Star Trek fans were treated to an appearance by Kevin Arnold’s sister Karen from The Wonder Years. Olivia d’Abo played Amanda Rogers, an intern with aspirations to attend Starfleet Academy who discovered that she was actually not a human, but a Q. Q (John deLancie) breaks the news, secretly plans to terminate her once he discovers the breadth of her powers, but then ends up taking her with him to live in the Q Continuum. D’Abo had grown up watching the original Trek and was excited to be working on the show, and said that the sets were “top-notch” and made her feel like she was really aboard a starship. Every kid’s dream!
Sixteen years later, she found herself entering the Star Wars universe on the Clone Wars TV series. For seven episodes, she provided the voice for Luminara Unduli, a Jedi Master. She fought alongside Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, but was eventually captured and executed by the Empire.
4. Brent Spiner
For seven seasons of TNG and in four movies, Brent Spiner played the android Data. He also, during the course of the series, got to play Data’s “brother” Lore and his “father” and creator, Dr. Noonian Soong. The season 4 episode “Brothers” gave him the opportunity to play all three in one episode. In addition to that, he played a less developed version of Data; the android B-4, in Star Trek: Nemesis (which he co-wrote), and Dr. Arik Soong, one Noonian’s ancestors, on Enteprise.
He turned up only once in Star Wars Rebels, the newest TV series. In the season 1 episode “Rise of the Old Masters,” he voiced Gall Trayvis, a Senator in exile who would hack into “Holonet News” transmissions to reveal secrets the Empire would rather have kept to themselves. But wait! It turned out Trayvis was actually working for the Empire all along, trying to gain the rebels’ trust so he could lure them out into the open and betray them.
3. Sam Witwer
Witwer was a big Star Trek fan as a kid, even going on a tour of the set and getting to meet Wil Wheaton, who was only five years older than Witwer and spent half an hour talking with him in his trailer while the tour group waited outside. He was very excited to guest star on Enterprise as a Xindi-Arboreal, a minor role that gave him his Star Trek cred, even though his friends kept calling his character “Sam the Sloth.”
Known for Battlestar Galactica, Smallville, and Being Human, he’s been a big contributor to several of the Star Wars video games, mostly as Galen Marek, a Sith apprentice. He provided some other voices for the games, as well as some for The Clone Wars. It was on that show that he shone as the voice of Darth Maul, a very dangerous and angry Sith Lord who killed Qui-Gon Jinn, but was severed at the waist by Obi-Wan Kenobi. He escaped to a junkyard, where he remained for 12 years as he created metal, spider-like legs for himself, and was eventually rescued by his brother Savage and free to pursue revenge against Kenobi.
2. Felix Silla
We’re going old school with this one. Felix Silla trained as a circus performer before becoming a stuntman. At three feet eleven inches, he often did stunt or double work for kids in movies, like Battle for the Planet of the Apes, The Towering Inferno, E.T., and Battlestar Galactica. He also played Cousin Itt on The Addams Family TV series in the 1960s, and was Twiki the robot in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. While Mel Blanc provided the voice, Silla was the one in the suit, with occasional substitution by another Star Trek/Star Wars vet on this list, Patty Maloney.
He appeared in the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage,” later incorporated into the series in the two-parter episode “The Menagerie.” He was one of the big-headed Talosians, who could control others’ thoughts and create illusions that felt completely real.
When he was working on Poltergeist, the stunt coordinator asked for his help in finding more little people who could do stunts for a new movie, and he got a double reward: he found jobs for his friends, and he became the unnamed hang-gliding Ewok in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.
1. Simon Pegg
Simon Pegg isn’t just the actor who played Scotty in all three of the Star Trek reboots; he’s also the co-writer of Star Trek Beyond. A longtime fan, he found out he got the role of Scotty via an email from J.J. Abrams, and later described it as the most shocking email he’d ever received.
Pegg has dipped into Star Wars a few times. He voiced bounty hunter Dengar in an episode of The Clone Wars, then got to provide the voice of an Imperial Commander as well as C-3PO in the (obviously) non-canon crossover Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars. In The Force Awakens, he hid under pounds of make-up as Unkar Platt, the junk boss who bought scraps from Rey and tried to steal the droid BB-8. He also advised his pal J.J. Abrams to rely on practical effects more than CGI when it was possible, and Abrams took his advice. While he was on set, one of the puppeteers took time out to thank him, calling him the “guy whose daughter saved Star Wars,” since it was his daughter’s delight at seeing Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back that inspired him to bring up the subject in the first place.
And let’s not forget a video he did with pal Nick Frost for College Humor, in which they tried… sort of… to recreate a classic scene from the original Star Wars.