Star Wars is without a doubt one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. Because of this, it has both launched and attracted some of Hollywood’s biggest talents in the series' forty year history. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford each became icons in their own right.
Alec Guinness was already an Academy Award winner when he played Obi-Wan Kenobi. However, the universe of Star Wars is incredibly wide and there are so many characters that audiences barely ever even get introduced to.
Given that there’s just so much room in a galaxy far, far away, it only makes sense that there are actually a ton of cameos that have been snuck into these films without most fans even realizing it.
Across each and every movie, the filmmakers have included cameos of A-list stars that only the most eagle-eyed observers would even think to look for.
Because of the expansive universe and passion for this franchise, many of these characters only glimpsed in the films have gone on to have much larger roles in games, novels and comics.
From high-profile actors to directors, writers, and more, here are the 15 A-Lister Cameos You Completely Missed In Star Wars.
15 Jessica Henwick in The Force Awakens
Known for Game of Thrones at the time of her casting in The Force Awakens, Jessica Henwick is now mostly recognized for her role as Colleen Wing in both Iron Fist and The Defenders.
While Iron Fist was not the most successful Marvel Netflix series, her character is often cited as the best thing about it. In The Force Awakens, she has a small but recognizable role as an X-Wing pilot named Jessika Pava.
Because this is Star Wars, her character actually has an extensive backstory revealing her close relationship with Poe Dameron and her fascination for Luke Skywalker, who she has grown up idolizing.
She is a regularly occurring character in the Poe Dameron comic book series. It’s unclear if her character will return in The Last Jedi, as she survived the battle at Starkiller Base and Poe is said to have a much larger role.
14 Sofia Coppola in The Phantom Menace
Acclaimed director Sofia Coppola is one of the most surprising cameos in the Star Wars saga. Coppola appears as Saché, one of the handmaidens who serve as the royal guard for Queen Amidala of Naboo.
She is one of only two handmaidens who stay behind while the Queen flees Naboo alongside Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. She does not attend the celebration parade at the end, though she can be seen attending Qui-Gon’s funeral.
Coppola claims that her role came about because she simply asked Lucas if she could come watch the filming, which then led to her wearing a robe and standing in the royal entourage.
The character also appears in the young adult books Cloak of Deception, Queen in Disguise and Star Wars Episode I Journal: Queen Amidala, as well as the video game Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided.
13 Daniel Craig in The Force Awakens
Daniel Craig’s cameo in The Force Awakens might be the most fascinating, puzzling and funny of the bunch. A major cinematic star who could easily have stepped into a major role for the franchise, he plays a Stormtrooper in a single scene.
The primary reason for this is simply the convenience of the film’s location. Much of Force Awakens was filmed at Pinewood Studios, right where the Bond films are shot. Spectre was about to shoot at the same studio with much of the same crew while Force Awakens was wrapping up.
Shooting his scene in just a day, Craig makes a quick cameo as possibly the film’s funniest Stormtrooper, as he appears when Rey is first attempting to test her mind powers, convincing him to untie her, drop his gun and walk away.
12 Billie Lourd in The Force Awakens
The daughter of Star Wars legend Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd is a talented and successful actress in her own right. However, her brief appearance as Lieutenant Connix in The Force Awakens came during her breakout year as an actress, as the film was released just after Lourd made her debut in Scream Queens.
Appearing as a regular on that show until its cancellation, Lourd almost immediately jumped into appearing in the latest season of the extremely successful anthology series American Horror Story.
Lourd will also appear in next year’s Billionaire Boys Club and will be seen this month reprising Lieutenant Lennox in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
It has been reported that her character will have a much larger role this time out. However, exactly how she will be utilized in the upcoming film remains to be seen.
11 George Lucas in Revenge of the Sith
Whatever people might say about him now, however the prequels might have turned out, there’s no doubt that there would be no Star Wars without George Lucas. This entire universe is his brainchild.
He created worlds and characters that people have loved and obsessed over for forty years and counting. With the intense hype surrounding the franchise’s potential ending with Revenge of the Sith, it seemed only appropriate for Lucas to give himself a cameo for the very first time.
The director even went as far as appearing in extensive makeup as Notluwiski Papanoida, a statesman and playwright who— like so many other characters— turned out to have a rich and complex backstory and eventually made his return in an episode of The Clone Wars.
10 Kevin Smith in The Force Awakens
It’s not much of a secret that Clerks, Chasing Amy and Dogma director Kevin Smth is a huge Star Wars fan, which makes his cameo all the more exciting. References to the saga have made it into several of his features, from Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back to Zack and Miri.
Smith’s incredibly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance comes about halfway through the The Force Awakens. During the battle at Maz Kanata’s fortress, Smith voices a First Order Stormtrooper for a single line.
There’s a ton of action and excitement during that scene, so most people probably aren’t watching it while listening for Smith’s voice to say “We have incoming at 28.6! Move!”
Rest assured, though, that is his line if any fans who missed it want to try and track him down during their next viewing.
9 Treat Williams in The Empire Strikes Back
Known primarily for starring in Hair and The Eagle Has Landed at the time, Treat Williams makes an uncredited cameo as a resistance fighter in The Empire Strikes Back.
Unlike Smith, this is more than a voiceover role and Williams is actually instantly recognizable as long as people know to look for him. While he wasn’t a huge star at the time, Williams certainly went on to become more of a household name throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Williams’ cameo is a fun one for those who grew up watching his work. He gets just enough screen time for someone to ask “Is that Treat Williams?”
This is a benefit to his cameo, as so many other Star Wars cameos are either voiceover roles or actors buried under heavy makeup.
8 Greg Proops in The Phantom Menace
Greg Proops is a comedian best known for his improvisational work on both the US and UK versions of Whose Line is it Anyway? Proops made his brief foray into the Star Wars universe by voicing Fode, one head of the two-headed announcer for the pod race in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Proops eventually even adopted one of the character’s lines, “I don’t care what universe you’re from, that’s got to hurt” for occasional use in Whose Line.
Proops also reprised the role of Fode in the Nintendo 64/PC game Star Wars: Racer. He also ended up voicing the character again in two episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Once again, this proves that even for minor cameos, there really are no small roles in the Star Wars universe.
7 Greg Grunberg in The Force Awakens
Heroes and Alias star Greg Grunberg has been friends with J.J. Abrams since the earliest days of the director’s career. Grunberg’s first breakout roles were in Felicity and Alias, both of which were co-created by Abrams.
As Abrams has risen to become one of the most successful directors in Hollywood, he’s always brought Grunberg along with him as a sort of good luck charm. Grunberg always features in some capacity in Abrams’ work, whether that role be big or small. He has a brief role in Abrams’ Star Trek franchise and features very similarly in The Force Awakens.
Like Jessica Henwick, he appears as an X-Wing pilot and friend of Poe Dameron and just like her character, his has gone on to make multiple appearances in the Poe Dameron comic series as well as appearing in the Force Awakens prequel novel, Aftermath.
6 Judah Friedlander in The Force Awakens
Judah Friedlander is a comedian best known for his roles in 30 Rock and Wet Hot American Summer, as well as his successful stand-up career. It was definitely 30 Rock’s Frank Rossitano, though, that launched him into the mainstream.
Already a widely recognized comedic talent by the time Force Awakens was released, Friedlander has a very small role in that film as a bar patron. This is one of those cameos that could only be spotted by the most attentive Star Wars fan— or Friedlander fan, for that matter.
Friedlander appears on camera for just a moment as a patron at Maz Kanata’s bar, just before the action heats up as both the First Order and Resistance are drawn to the scene.
Most fans only noticed Friedlander’s appearance after spotting his name in the credits, and then it took some Reddit investigating to track down and spot him in the film.
5 John Ratzenberger in The Empire Strikes Back
Ratzenberger is without a doubt most famous for his role as Cliff on the classic long-running sitcom Cheers.
However, he has also made a name for himself in animation, especially as the voice of Hamm in the Toy Story franchise and has even appeared in tongue-in-cheek B-Movies like House II: The Second Story. Before his breakout success with Cheers, though, he made an appearance as Rebel Force Major Bren Derlin in The Empire Strikes Back.
Ratzenberger’s iconic dry humor is definitely nowhere to be found in his brief role as this rebel soldier who has to make the tough decision to close the base doors before Han and Luke return, effectively leaving them stranded in the cold.
The character also makes an appearance in the novel Heir to the Jedi, which bridges the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
4 Richard Marquand in Return of the Jedi
During the intense production of Return of the Jedi, director Richard Marquand managed to find the time to give himself a small cameo as an AT-ST pilot on Endor, even going as far as to have his character be called Major Marquand.
Although Marquand has also directed critically acclaimed movies like Eye of the Needle and Jagged Edge, Return of the Jedi is without a doubt his most well-known feature. The search for a director for Jedi was extremely tough, as it was the closer to the original trilogy and therefore a hugely anticipated film.
Directors like David Lynch and David Cronenberg were considered for the job, but Marquand eventually won out. With all the trials and tribulations it took to get Return of the Jedi to the screen, Marquand’s small cameo for himself seems well-deserved.
3 Simon Pegg in The Force Awakens
Simon Pegg, a huge Star Wars fan who had worked with J.J. Abrams in the past on the Mission: Impossible and Star Trek franchises, underwent an extensive makeup transformation for his small role as Unkar Plutt in The Force Awakens. O
wner of a salvage operation on Jakku, Plutt is also the current owner of the Millenium Falcon at the film’s opening and at least one-time legal guardian of the film’s heroine, Rey. A big, beastly alien devoid of a sense of humor, Pegg is completely unrecognizable in the role, which was probably the point of his casting.
A junkyard boss who trades in food rations, Plutt loses both the Falcon and Rey over the course of the film. A scene in which Chewbacca rips off Plut’s arm was filmed, but cut from the final version. It was included in the movie’s novelization.
2 Joe Johnston in A New Hope
Joe Johnston has earned his place as a major Hollywood director. He has helmed blockbuster epics ranging from The Rocketeer to The Wolfman to Captain America: The First Avenger, not to mention high profile sequels like Jurassic Park III and dramas like October Sky.
However, he actually got his start as a storyboard artist and editor as a protégé of Lucas and Spielberg on both the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises. As an artist working on the original trilogy, he left his biggest mark designing the armor of Boba Fett.
But in the original feature, Johnston can be seen as two Stormtroopers and one Imperial Gunner. His most standout Stormtrooper role is distinguished by a backpack. That character was turned into an action figure in 2009.
1 Lin-Manuel Miranda in The Force Awakens
Lin-Manuel Miranda might be one of the most influential talents working today. He revolutionized the Broadway Musical with Hamilton in 2015. He carved a new path and sound for animated musicals as well, in Disney’s Moana.
In just a few short years, he has already become a household name. What people might not know, though, is that Miranda has also made a musical appearance in the Star Wars universe, arranging the music that is played during the sequences set at Maz Kanata’s bar during The Force Awakens.
Designed to be a new cantina song that would follow the style of the song from the original while bearing its own unique flavor, the song is called “Jabba Flow” and is written and sung in the language of the Hutts.
Can you think of any other A-list starts who cameoed in Star Wars? Sound off in the comments!