When George Lucas’ Star Wars released in 1977, it almost immediately became a worldwide phenomenon. So when Lucas was gearing up for the movie’s sequel, everyone wanted to get in on the action, and that is a sentiment that remains to this very day. Who wouldn’t want to be in a Star Wars movie?
There are countless aliens species and planets in the Star Wars galaxy, which means there are plenty of opportunities for cameos and small roles for unknown and big name actors alike. Since most of those species are covered under some form of makeup or prosthetic, it can become difficult to identify the actors and actresses playing them. Therefore, it’s easy to forget those actors were even a part of the saga.
Furthermore, many actors appeared in Star Wars movies early on in their careers, which means when people go back and watch the movies today, they may be shocked to discover some big name stars in rather small roles. With that in mind, here are 15 Actors You Forgot Were In Star Wars.
15. Joel Edgerton — Owen Lars
Australian-born actor Joel Edgerton got his big break in his home country starring in the hit TV series The Secret Life of Us, for which he won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Television Drama. He followed up on his success by hopping on over to Hollywood and attempting to jump start a film career.
While audiences will recognize the actor for starring in films like Animal Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Great Gatsby, one of his first roles in a blockbuster movie was appearing as Owen Lars in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
He first appears in Attack of the Clones when Anakin goes looking for his mother, Shmi, on Tatooine. Edgerton only had a small role in the second entry in the prequel series, but he later reprised his role as Anakin’s stepbrother at the end of Revenge of the Sith, when Obi-Wan Kenobi hands over a baby Luke to Owen and his wife, Beru.
14. Rose Byrne — Dormé
Rose Byrne has made a name for herself in recent years by starring in superhero movies like X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Apocalypse, as well as in a handful of comedies, such as Bridesmaids, Neighbors, and most recently, Spy. However, before she got her big break in Ridley Scott’s Troy, and later in Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s 28 Weeks Later, she starred in a small role in George Lucas’ Attack of the Clones.
Byrne appeared in the film as one of Senator Amidala’s handmaidens, Dormé. She traveled with Amidala from Naboo to Coruscant so that the senator could vote in the highly controversial Military Creation Act. Despite multiple assassination attempts, Dormé remained by Senator Amidala’s side. Byrne certainly had a small role in the film, one which may have gone unnoticed at the time. But if one were to rewatch the movie now, we’re sure Byrne would stand out.
13. Kiera Knightley — Sabé
Years before Keira Knightley got her big break by starring as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, she appeared in The Phantom Menace as the handmaiden Sabé. She acted as Queen Amidala’s decoy throughout the film, and was even referred to as Queen in various scenes. Knightley was chosen for the role primarily due to her likeness to Natalie Portman, who played Padmé Amidala.
Ever since reaching stardom, Knightley’s role in The Phantom Menace has been extensively covered and is something longtime Star Wars fans are well aware of. However, franchise newcomers, as well as those who haven’t seen The Phantom Menace in years (especially people who watch the movies in Machete Order), may not remember Knightley being in the movie at all. Since she’s covered an extensive make-up job the entire time, and since she does look quite like Portman, it may still be difficult to recognize her.
12. Sofia Coppola — Saché
In case you haven’t caught on, George Lucas utilized Padmé’s troop of handmaidens for several small roles, and up-and-coming actors were more than happy just to be in a Star Wars flick. After all, just like with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, most of Hollywood was yearning to appear in Lucas’ prequel trilogy back in the ’90s and early ’00s. In addition to Rose Byrne and Kiera Knightley, Sofia Coppola also appeared as one of Padmé’s trusted servants — Saché. She appears in several scenes alongside Padmé, who was, at the time, disguised as one of the Queen’s handmaidens herself.
After starring in a handful of films, such as The Godfather, The Outsiders, and Peggy Sue Got Married, among others, all of which were directed by her father, Francis Ford Coppola, she moved into directing full time. And four years after appearing in The Phantom Menace, Coppola became the third woman ever to be nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, a distinction she received for directing Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. She may have lost out on that Oscar win to Peter Jackson, but she still walked away with a golden statue that night when she notched a win for Best Original Screenplay.
11. Dominic West — Palace Guard
Queen Amidala’s handmaidens weren’t the only roles for which George Lucas selected some promising up-and-comers to fill out the cast of The Phantom Menace. One of those people happened to be English actor Dominic West, who’s best known by comic book fans for his villainous turn as Jigsaw in Marvel’s Punisher: War Zone. Others likely recognize West for starring as Jimmy McNulty in The Wire, as well as Noah Solloway in Showtime’s The Affair.
Again, like most people on this list, West got his start in Hollywood by making a brief appearance in one of Lucas’ Star Wars films. Early on in his career, he popped in to play Palace Guard Jerus Jannick in The Phantom Menace. Although he appears in various scenes throughout the film, fans best remember Jannick for the scene on Coruscant glimpsed in the photo above, where a young Anakin Skywalker approaches him looking to be granted entrance into Queen Amidala’s residence.
10. Julian Glover — General Veers
Unlike most of the people on this list, Julian Glover had a substantial amount of screen time when he appeared as General Maximilian Veers in Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back. After being given several chances, Admiral Kendal Ozzel had failed Darth Vader for the final time by performing a foolhardy maneuver in hopes of intimidating the Rebel Alliance. And for his insolence, he was force choked into oblivion, leaving General Veers in charge of the Imperial assault on the Rebels’ Echo Base on Hoth.
Glover is a widely known and respected actor who has appeared in countless films throughout his career. While people who saw The Empire Strikes Back in theaters will likely remember Glover’s role in the film, franchise newcomers may be surprised to discover that Glover, now in his 80s, has spent the last few years playing Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Shortly after starring in The Empire Strikes Back, Glover ended up being cast as Nazi sympathizer Walter Donovan, the main villain in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, so the actor has clearly run the gamut across nerd-tastic entertainment.
9. Tony Cox — Ewok
Tony Cox is best known to moviegoers for appearing alongside Billy Bob Thorton in Bad Santa, but you either may not know or perhaps may have forgotten that Cox also appeared in Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi as one of the Ewoks. In fact, Cox was only one of the several short actors to be cast as an Ewok in Return of the Jedi (or in any other role that required short actors).
Cox didn’t portray a specific Ewok, and he of course wasn’t alone when he surrounded and imprisoned Luke Skywalker. Warwick Davis, Jack Purvis, Jane Busby, and Mike Edmonds all appeared in costume as the adorable little creatures from Endor. Since it’s unlikely that Ewoks will ever reappear in the Star Wars saga (since there’s virtually no reason for anyone to head back to Endor), we probably won’t get to see Cox in the movies again. Fear not, for you can catch him reprising his role as Marcus in Bad Santa 2, which is currently playing in theaters.
8. Richard Armitage — Jerus Jannick
Richard Armitage has played a variety of roles over the years, some in film and some on television. Most recently, he played Francis Dolarhyde on the final season of NBC’s Hannibal, and before that, he portrayed Guy of Gisborne in the BBC One series Robin Hood. But perhaps his most recognizable (and certainly his most lucrative) role was starring as Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackon’s The Hobbit trilogy, a role for which he won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor.
But long before all of these roles, and before he cameoed as the German spy Heinz Kruger in Captain America: The First Avenger, Armitage made his cinematic debut as a Naboo fighter pilot in The Phantom Menace. In the scene in which Padmé, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn seek the help of the Gungans in fending off the droid army, Armitage appears standing in the background. (He’s the guy to the immediate left of Keira Knightley’s enormous headpiece.) He can also be seen sitting in the hanger along with several other captured pilots later on.
7. John Ratzenberger — Major Derlin
John Ratzenberger is most recognizable for playing Cliff Clavin, one of the main characters in the beloved sitcom series Cheers. Aside from that, many people may not know (unless you’re a big Cheers fan and can, therefore, recognize his voice) that Ratzenberger is one of Pixar’s most frequent collaborators. In fact, he has had a role — no matter how small — in every Pixar film since their inception in 1986;. That includes Toy Story, The Incredibles, and even this year’s Finding Dory.
Although Ratzenberger didn’t get his start as an actor by appearing in Star Wars, he was, at the time, appearing in mostly small roles to presumably build his resume. He was a cast member in well-known movies like A Bridge Too Far, Superman, and of course, The Empire Strikes Back, in which he played Major Bren Derlin. He appears at the Rebels’ Echo Base on Hoth early on in the movie, alongside C-3PO and Princess Leia.
6. Deep Roy — Yoda, Droopy McCool
When it comes to Star Wars, there are dozens of names and faces worth remembering, but only a handful are iconic enough to be recognized by virtually everyone. Deep Roy (sort of) played one such character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi: Yoda. He acted as a stand-in for the little green Jedi master that could in several scenes in the Star Wars sequel. He later appeared as both an Ewok and the band player Droopy McCool (pictured above) in the final installment in Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy.
Of course, due to his diminutive height (roughly 4 feet 4 inches), Roy is frequently cast in stereotypical small roles — not in terms of screen time, but in terms of height requirements for the characters he plays. For instance, he recently played Keenser in Paramount Pictures’ rebooted Star Trek films, as well as all the Oompa-Loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake. In fact, he’s become a frequent collaborator of director Tim Burton, appearing in movies like Big Fish and Planet of the Apes.
5. Bai Ling — Senator Bana Breemu
Chinese-born actress Bai Ling is known mainly for her roles in movies like The Crow and Crank: High Voltage, as well as in TV shows like Entourage and LOST. Of course, like most people on this list, she got her start by appearing in Star Wars. We’ll be the first to admit that we’re cheating a bit with this one, because unless you’re a well-informed Star Wars fan who has perused through all the Blu-ray extras, you probably had no idea that Ling was even in Star Wars in the first place. Therefore, how could you forget about her role in the first place?
Ling was cast as Senator Bana Breemu in Revenge of the Sith, but her role was eventually left out of the final cut of the film. Some believe Ling’s appearance in Playboy might have contributed to Lucas’ excision of her role, but that remains an unconfirmed rumor. Still, she filmed her role as Senator Breemu, which earns her a spot on this list.
4. Peter Serafinowicz — Darth Maul’s voice
Whether it is intentional or not, it’s become something of an ongoing trend throughout the Star Wars movies to have characters with the least of amount of dialogue (or screen time) becoming favorites among fans. For instance, Boba Fett, who barely spoke throughout the original Star Wars trilogy, became a beloved character, so much so that Lucasfilm might even give him his own standalone film. And then there’s the affectionately named TR-8R (real name Nines) stormtrooper from The Force Awakens.
But long before Nines became the unsung hero of the First Order, there was Darth Maul, who not only unveiled the Sith to the Jedi after they’d been in hiding for over a thousand years, but also managed to take on two of them in combat and even kill Qui-Gon Jinn. While Ray Park played the Sith villain under the makeup and performed all the stunts, Peter Serafinowicz provided the voice for the character. Interestingly, The Phantom Menace was Serafinowicz’s first film ever, and he’s since gone on to make a name for himself for his work in films like Shaun of the Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy.
3. Billie Lourd — Lieutenant Connix
Ten years after Revenge of the Sith hit theaters, Star Wars fans were treated to a brand new installment in the beloved saga with The Force Awakens — and actors and actresses around the world were itching to in on the action. The movie had an abundance of cameos and small roles (we’ll run through a bunch of them momentarily), including one from Billie Lourd.
Lourd, who is most well-known for playing Chanel #3 on Fox’s Scream Queens TV series, cameoed in The Force Awakens as Resistance Lieutenant Connix. She appeared at the Resistance HQ during the assault on Starkiller Base towards the end of the film. Interestingly, she is scheduled to reprise her role in Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII.
While Lourd is a capable actress in her own right, when it comes to Star Wars, it helps to be the daughter of Carrie Fisher (they even gave her a similar hairdo). This may be a case of nepotism, but friends and family cameo in films all the time, so it’s not that big of a deal.
2. Lin-Manuel Miranda — “Jabba Flow” cantina song
It’s quite evident that, right now, Lin-Manuel Miranda is on a meteoric rise to the top of, well, everything. His Broadway smash hit Hamilton has become one of the biggest musicals in history. After winning numerous industry awards, Miranda decided to branch out from the bright lights of Times Square and into Hollywood.
He has worked wonders for Broadway, and he brought that experience with him when he helped write the music for Disney’s latest animated film, Moana. In fact, while doing research for the role, Miranda attended the world’s largest Polynesian festival in Auckland, NZ, Pasifika, where he not only participated in a dancing competition, but won!
Miranda brought that same aptitude to a galaxy far, far away when J.J. Abrams invited him to work on the Star Wars: The Force Awakens soundtrack. Although he didn’t physically appear in the film, we’re counting Miranda on this list because he wrote and sang the “Jabba Flow” song with Abrams, the one that plays in Maz’s cantina when Han Solo and co. come a knockin’.
1. The Force Awakens cameos
With all the news reports of cameos and small roles in The Force Awakens that have released this past year, it’s quite clear that Billie Lourd was not the only person to cameo in the film. While some of the bigger name actors who got into the action in a largely unnoticeable way (like Simon Pegg, Ewan McGregor, and Daniel Craig) have received extensive coverage, there are many others who might have gone overlooked. Let’s run through a few of them.
Game of Thrones stars Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Jessica Henwick, Miltos Yerolemou, and Emun Elliott played First Order officer Thanisson, Resistance pilot Jess Testor, a patron in Maz Kanata’s cantina, and a Resistance fighter, respectively. Then there’s J.J. Abrams’ childhood friend and Heroes star Greg Grunberg, who played Resistance pilot Snap Wexley; Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, who played a stormtrooper; and Abrams’ longtime partner and composer Michael Giacchino, who played stormtrooper FN-3181. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What other actors appeared in a Star Wars flick in an under the radar role? Let us know in the comments.