As we come closer and closer with each passing day to the arrival of the seventh film installment of the most popular and influential film saga that ever was, there is no new clip or snippet of information that doesn’t make it seem like a torment that Star Wars: The Force Awakens hasn’t arrived yet. So, to keep the feelings of excitement fully charged, it’s best to keep the teasers coming in.
To get you amped up for the coming film, we’ve compiled a list of movies and TV shows you may or may not know to help familiarize you with the faces that will be populating that galaxy far, far away.
Here are the 15 Best Movies & TV Shows of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cast
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Of all of the faces you will see in the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise, Harrison Ford is by far the most easily recognizable. While the iconic Han Solo is probably the character he is best known for, the only role that he is equally beloved for is the fedora-wearing, whip-cracking archaeologist Indiana Jones. You can see Ford give a great performance in any of the four films (yes, even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), but Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the film Ford seems most at home at in the character’s shoes.
A lot of speculation has been flying around concerning the fate of everyone’s favorite smuggler in The Force Awakens, fans being whipped into a happy-tear frenzy when they got their first look at the captain of the Millennium Falcon and his hirsute sidekick Chewbacca in the film’s first teaser trailer. Many worry that Han Solo might meet his doom during his first return to the screen in over thirty years, citing Ford’s request to kill off the character in 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Considering the character’s popularity and Disney’s penchant for making money, that theory seems unlikely, however it would be a fantastic way to break the Luke-is-a-Sith-master theory if his now evil old friend murdered him.
Mark Hamill in Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995)
After he became one of the most recognizable faces in the cinematic realm of science fiction with his role as the Jedi savior Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill had a difficult time finding acting work, with only a handful of small roles every once in a while. Thankfully, he never got discouraged and instead turned to voice acting. While he has voiced tons of characters, the one he has had the most success with is Batman’s archnemesis the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series. Arguably one of the best incarnations of the villain, Hamill has voiced the Joker beyond the original animated show, appearing in further animated iterations of the character and even in videogames like Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Ever since images, footage, and posters of The Force Awakens have been slowly revealed to the world, everyone has been asking the same question: Where’s Luke? Rumors have been flying around, with fans’ interest getting even more piqued at writer/director J.J. Abrams’ comment that the character’s absence from the movie’s publicity vehicles was completely intentional. Everyone is dying to find out whether Luke has become an ornery old hermit like Yoda or, worse, if he has turned into a Sith lord and is perhaps masquerading under the pseudonym Kylo Ren…
Carrie Fisher in Sibling Rivalry (1990)
Like the man who played her cinematic twin brother Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher never found a role as big as the one the Star Wars universe gave her, although it wasn’t because people found her face too familiar. Fisher has always been very candid about her issues with bipolar disorder, alcohol, cocaine, and prescription painkillers that kept her from having a more prolific career, which is a shame, considering the promise she showed in the small film roles she did have. While many people remember her in movies like When Harry Met Sally and The Blues Brothers, the criminally under-seen dark comedy Sibling Rivalry was a true shining moment for the woman who played Princess Leia. In the film, Fisher stole every scene she was in as the wicked sister-in-law of Kirstie Alley’s main character.
Not too much information has been released on Fisher’s reprisal of her Star Wars role, although images of her from TV spots and trailers obviously have people curious about the development of the character. Responding to questions about how world-weary and distraught she often looks, J.J. Abrams that she has been going through some tough times since we last saw her in Return of the Jedi. The director also disclosed that she is now referred to as “General,” though a certain unnamed character tends to slip up and call her “Princess.”
Gwendoline Christie in Game of Thrones (2011-Present)
When you see photos or video clips of Captain Phasma in her ultra-cool, ultra-streamlined chrome stormtrooper armor, it’s hard not to be totally mesmerized. Since the beginning of the franchise, Star Wars has consistently molded some of the most interesting and magnetic villains in cinema, and Phasma is certainly a fantastic new edition to that pedigree. Though no details have been released about the character other than her gender, rising star Gwendoline Christie, who portrays the officer of the Galactic Empire splinter faction the First Order, has said that what makes Phasma so special is that there was never a need to give her character a gender specific costume – being a good and strong villain has nothing to do with being a man or a woman in the Star Wars universe anymore.
Christie’s fame is bound to grow to incredible heights with her roles in The Force Awakens and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, but her greatest fans will always know her as the scene stealing, honor-bound warrior Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Games of Thrones. Since she became an integral part of the fantasy canon in the show’s second season, she has not only been one of the story’s most staunchly moral characters but also possesses an increasingly interesting character arc. No details of what happens to Brienne in season 6 have been released yet, but fans of the novels speculate that Christie could have a larger presence in the Game of Thrones universe in the near future.
John Boyega in Attack the Block (2011)
If you’re a fan of science-fiction movies and you have not yet experienced the growing underground cult fame of the British alien-invasion flick Attack the Block, then you have been missing out on something truly spectacular. The movie follows a group of working class teenage Londoners who fight to save their home from a pack of wolf-like extra-terrestrial beasts. At the time of the film’s release, no one knew much about Attack the Block’s lead John Boyega other than he had a fantastically thick accent and a magnetic, leading man quality about him. But now that he has snared the role of a lifetime, he might soon get the fame he deserves.
Boyega stars in The Force Awakens as Finn, a former stormtrooper of the First Order who crash lands on the planet Jakku and is befriended by the similarly short-named Rey. From what has been shown on posters and in trailers, it is all but certain that Finn is to be the new face of Jedi. Considering Boyega’s character is seen wielding the lightsaber that belonged to Anakin Skywalker and subsequently his son Luke, this plot line is all but guaranteed. What is unknown are Finn’s true origins – J.J. Abrams has been secretive about where the character comes from, consciously keeping Finn’s last name a mystery like the film’s other young character Rey.
Max von Sydow in The Exorcist (1973)
Anyone who considers himself a cinephile knows that Max Von Sydow holds a long and proud history as a screen actor than spans over sixty years, and as such it pretty self-explanatory that he has a large number of great roles to choose from. For those who aren’t familiar with him, essential viewing begins with one of the most unsettling movies ever made – The Exorcist. Von Sydow plays the title character, a priest named Father Merrin, who proves instrumental in a fight against the Devil to save the life of a young girl.
While his casting in The Force Awakens was announced some time ago, it wasn’t until fairly recently that the world was aware of anything about his character other than his on-set nickname “the Vicar.” An elder living on Rey’s home planet Jakku, Von Sydow will appear as Lor San Tekka, a mysterious man who holds important information concerning the whereabouts of the elusive Luke Skywalker.
Domhnall Gleeson in Ex Machina (2015)
Son of the hugely talented Brendan Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson has built a reputation for himself by playing hopelessly romantic and/or sadsack average joes in movies like About Time and Dredd. While those films are exceptional in their own rights, young Gleeson never fails to go beyond expectations in any movie role he takes on in or outside his comfort zone, showing off great acting prowess in sci-fi realism sleeper hit Ex Machina, where he plays a naïve computer programmer who falls for a female A.I. robot. The film is wonderfully stark and moody, with Gleeson’s affable do-gooder playing the perfect foil to (fellow Force Awakens’ actor) Oscar Isaac’s malevolent robot creator Nathan.
Stepping away from his nice-guy roles entirely, Gleeson’s role in Force Awakens is entirely different from any role he’s taken on before. The ginger Irishman stars as one of the leaders of the First Order General Hux. Few details are known of the character’s history, but he is described as the equivalent of the original trilogy’s Grand Moff Tarkin. Many have wondered if it makes sense to cast someone so young as such a high-ranking officer, but Gleeson explains that it is proof that Hux is a ruthless villain, a quality that has helped him rise quickly through the ranks.
Ken Leung in Saw (2004)
There are lots of actors in Hollywood who are seen only as familiar faces but not memorable names – Ken Leung certainly fits into this category, which is unfortunate, because he deserves to be known. With small roles peppered throughout both famous and lesser-known films, Leung has an expressive quality that makes him a bit more memorable than other stock actors who live in Hollywood oblivion. The bigger roles are a little harder to find, but are great when they do come around. While most people have mixed feelings toward the original Saw, Leung fits in well alongside Danny Glover, both of whom play homicide detectives looking for the infamous Jigsaw killer.
Leung’s Star Wars character does not yet have a name for the public to call him, but behind-the-scenes footage and trailer clips are definitely piquing interest in who he might be. It is certain that he is a good guy, shown alongside Carrie Fisher’s Leia in a militaristic looking uniform. Most assume that his proximity to such an important character guarantees that he is an officer or a leader of some kind.
Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
It is truly a shame that, until now, Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac hasn’t had his moment in the Hollywood sun. With the small roles he has inhabited throughout the years, he has made all of the movies he’s been in just a little bit better, whether they were already outstanding movies, like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, or terrible movies, like Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. While he does an amazing job no matter what, one of the finest moments in his career so far has been taking on the title character in the Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis. Isaac is remarkable as the film’s eponymous folk singer with a chip on his shoulder, and his performance makes the overall gloomy quality of the movie decidedly more bearable.
Of the new characters in Episode VII, Isaac’s Black squadron X-wing pilot Poe Dameron has the most substantial and least cloak-and-dagger backstories. Poe’s parents worked as Rebels during the Galactic civil war and also happened to be friends of Luke Skywalker. Many have wondered about the size of his role in The Force Awakens, some speculating that he might be one of the new Jedi and others suggesting that he might be one of the new Sith.
Daisy Ridley in Blue Season (2013)
Of all the actors you will see in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley will unquestionably be the most unfamiliar, and for a good reason – she has not appeared in any feature film or TV show of note. While the other actors will be familiar to some person or another, J.J. Abrams explained his casting of Ridley in the lead female role as wanting to hopefully repeat the magic of casting unknown actors as with the original Star Wars trilogy. To get more familiar with her face, you can watch the short film Blue Season on YouTube, made for the Sci-Fi London 48-hour film competition.
As of now, the only real information the world has about Ridley’s heroine Rey is that she is a scavenger living on the junkyard planet Jakku. J.J. Abrams seems happy to tease that it was intentional her name not be revealed. Speculation has been running wild as to who she will become to the Star Wars universe, the favorite theories being that she is the daughter of Han Leia and/or she is the sister of new Sith villain Kylo Ren.
Billie Lourd in Scream Queens (2015)
Aside from her upcoming appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Billie Lourd, daughter of Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher, has only had one other acting job. The Fox TV show Scream Queens debuted in September of this year, telling the story of a string of murders that revolves around the girls belonging to exclusive sorority Kappa Kappa Tau. Billie Lourd reaps nothing but laughs as a ditzy rich girl with a penchant for earmuffs who may or may not be the daughter of Charles Manson.
With such a strong resemblance to her mother, many assumed that Lourd’s inclusion in The Force Awakens automatically meant that she would play some character related to Princess Leia, whether it be her daughter or some other kind of relation. Unfortunately, it has been confirmed that Lourd won’t be related to Fisher’s Leia and the true nature of the young starlet’s character remains a mystery.
Andy Serkis (and Simon Pegg) in Burke and Hare (2010)
Plenty of people are familiar with the name Andy Serkis, but it is very likely that a lot of those people have no real idea of what the man looks like. The world has been captivated for years with his motion capture performances as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films and Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes franchise, but few are familiar with the few films that show his face. The 2010 film Burke & Hare is not a spectacular movie by any means, but it did serve one great purpose – it was a vehicle for his and Simon Pegg’s comedic talent. They play the title characters in the black comedy, portraying a pair of real-life 19th century business partners who killed people and sold them as medical cadavers.
For his role in The Force Awakens, Serkis returns to his forte of motion capture to take on the juggernaut role of Supreme Leader Snoke. No one yet knows what Snoke looks like (Serkis didn’t find out what his character looked like until after he started working on the film), but it has been revealed that he is a massive being who is very scarred and disfigured and serves as the head of the First Order. Simon Pegg’s face, as usual, will remain unseen as he donned a full body suit to play a yet unidentified alien creature.
Greg Grunberg in Heroes (2006-2010)
Throughout his career, Greg Grunberg has popped up on a lot of TV shows, such as Felicity, Alias, the infamously lugubrious Lost and the sultry and modern Masters of Sex, but most people are likely to recognize him as one of the central characters of the vastly underappreciated Heroes. In the sci-fi thriller, Grunberg plays a cop with psychic abilities, a veritable Professor X facsimile. If being one of the more relatable characters on the show wasn’t enough to show just how admired he is in his role as Matt Parkman, then the overwhelming response he received from fans when he announced his return in Heroes Reborn definitely should be.
Like all of the other contractually obligated actors who signed NDAs, Grunberg hasn’t revealed any major details about the movie, but he has divulged a few tidbits concerning his own character. Playing an X-wing pilot named Gorwyn, the actor explained that you will see him during the final part of the film when the Resistance begins planning its big assault on the villainous First Order.
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave (2013)
If winning an Oscar for your very first role in a feature length film doesn’t speak volumes about your acting talent, than nothing really does. In the hugely moving, brave, groundbreaking Steve McQueen period drama 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o stars alongside the glassy-eyed wonder Chiwetel Ejiofor as Patsey, the tragically beautiful slave and object of lust of her Bible-thumping owner. While the movie takes a certain amount of courage and stomach to watch, Nyong’o’s heartbreaking turn is an utter privilege to behold, making her future career seem all that more promising.
If you are a Star Wars fan who is prone to scrutinizing, then you’ve already gotten a look at Nyong’o’s Force Awakens character Maz Kanata – she is the goggle-eyed little creature that shows up on the film’s poster next to R2-D2 and BB-8. One of the few characters created through the use of CGI and not practical effects, little else is known of the character other than she is a thousand year-old pirate, although you can hear Nyong’o’s voice over in the film’s second trailer.
Adam Driver in Girls (2012-Present)
Every once and a while an actor will find himself lucky enough to be cast in a role that will get him noticed by the rest of the world and rocket him to burgeoning fame. Although landing a prominent role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly qualifies as that kind of fortune, Adam Driver found that role a few years ago when he began starring in the hit Lena Dunham show Girls. The former Marine and Julliard graduate stole the show as the faulted and erratic love interest of the show’s main character and has since nabbed appearances in the films of Steven Spielberg, Noah Baumbach, Clint Eastwood, and Joel and Ethan Coen.
With all of the theories about the true identity of Kylo Ren, many people question whether or not Driver is the real man behind the mask of the Sith lord (some say it may be a disguise for Luke Skywalker, or even a crazed and vengeful Jar Jar Binks). Some have proposed that Kylo Ren is the twin brother of scavenger Rey and concordantly the son of Han and Leia. While these ideas are exciting by themselves, the only thing most people seem concerned with in regards to this new character is his triple-bladed lightsaber.
Do you have any other favorite movies or TV shows from the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Let us know in the comments section below.
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