The Star Wars series is such a beloved franchise that it's almost a living, breathing friend for many fans. It's no wonder. Plenty of weirdos, nerds, sci-fi geeks, and anyone who felt they didn't fit the norm have found camaraderie and comfort with its plethora of heroic humans, ironically hilarious droids, and amazing space panoramas, not to mention cool aliens and tech. What's not to love?
Some actors also found the series to be an incredible launching pad for their careers, giving them just the visibility they needed to become mega A-listers-- including the second-highest-grossing U.S. domestic box-office star in history!
Some actors unfortunately failed to achieve fame and fortune following their time in the space opera, with some fading to the point of obscurity and others basing their entire careers on the franchise. Not everyone can make it to A-lister status. Whether it be due to bad luck, unfortunate circumstances, or even plain mediocre acting, there are plenty of people who, despite being involved in one of the most popular series of all time, just couldn't go on to bigger and better things.
Many will always be known as the greats while some will only be remembered for their brief time as a part of The Force. Here are Star Wars: 11 Stars Who Became A-Listers (And 9 Who Flopped).
20 A-List: Carrie Fisher
It's been over a year since she's left us and many of us are still wailing, "What are we going to do without her?" Carrie Fisher's dry wit, incredible strength and renowned toughness made her so likable both on and off-screen that it's no wonder she was, and always will be, so adored. It's true that General Leia will always be her most important role, but between her script edits, which we all thank her for, and her hilarious interviews and social media accounts (yes, including the one strictly for her goofy dog, Gary), we all felt like we knew her. At least a little bit and the world was a better place with her in it.
Fisher faced some difficult times following her success as Leia at such a young age, but she always gave honest commentary about her experience, giving insight even if she never owed it to anyone.
We all know that we'd have seen her face on the screen much more often had she not been battling those demons. Fisher wasn't only responsible for some of the best lines in Star Wars, but she served as a script doctor for films like Hook, The Wedding Singer and possibly even the Star Wars films she didn't appear in. She said it was "a good job, but that is a job I did not look to get," and no one is surprised that her humor and brains led her to that path.
19 Flopped: Jeremy Bulloch
The English actor who portrayed the most famous bounty hunter of possibly all time has sadly faded into obscurity. Jeremy Bulloch's Boba Fett had very little screen time, but remains one of the most popular villains and fanfiction inspirations to this day. Fans of both the prequels and original trilogy know that Bulloch had another role, as he was also Commander Marcus in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. There are several actors who've played multiple roles in the franchise, from Warwick Davis to Anthony Daniels, Silas Carson to Kenny Baker (Yes, R2-D2 was also an Ewok!). But like those characters, Bulloch played a much more notorious role against a more minor spot in the films.
Bulloch has only been spotted in a few shorts in recent years and, although he's been in multiple TV spots, he's never really been elevated to leading man status. If Patton Oswalt and many other fans had their way, Bulloch would likely reprise his role as the bounty hunter in a big scene where the sarlacc spits him out (or he ends the thing), as Patton's character on Parks and Recreation suggested during his Pawnee filibuster (which Oswalt himself came up with) or, even better, his own major feature film (which is likely coming soon).
18 A-List: Liam Neeson
Before he had a certain set of skills that led him into a multiple movie deal and one of the most oft-used memes of all time, Liam Neeson showed us all what a Jedi Master was supposed to be. As Qui-Gon Jinn, he showed us that Jedi Masters are steadfast, loyal, intuitive and true. He also gave one of the most painful death scenes in the franchise as he launched himself into superstardom, and even though we were all expecting the demise of Qui-Gon Jinn at the hands of Darth Maul (whose own death was incredible to watch), the wound still feels fresh.
From The Haunting to Love Actually, Gangs of New York to The Grey, Liam Neeson is more famous than ever. He's Aslan! He's Bad Cop! He's Alfred Kinsey, Ra's al Ghul and Ponyo's dad! While he wasn't some random unknown guy prior to the space opera, having been everyone from Oskar Schindler to Rob Roy before his appearance in The Phantom Menace, his career kept going up afterward. The largest paycheck that Liam Neeson has received to date is $20 million for Taken 3. His estimated net worth is $85 million, which is not bad for a former CIA operative who claims he doesn't have much money.
17 A-List: John Boyega
Not all of the leads have had much success following their Star Wars appearances, but we can say so far, so good for John Boyega, whose character FN-2187, or Finn, gave us an entire new hope in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A Stormtrooper turned good is not only an intriguing plot element, but it's also a nod toward the different takes on good and evil that we're witnessing in the modern trilogy. There is still betrayal, there are still plenty of blasters and violence. Maybe, just maybe, there's change in the air which has been foreshadowed with Rey and Kylo Ren's relationship.
Boyega's powerful portrayal of Finn has been a pleasure to watch, from his relationship with Poe to his transition from frightened ex-baddie to heroic freedom fighter and, mostly of all, friend.
It's no wonder that he's in high demand these days after such a strong performance. We've seen him in Pacific Rim: Uprising, 24: Live Another Day and other dramas, earning him the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2016. Although Boyega's considerable talents point toward his success as an actor, today's entertainment climate featuring a higher demand and more support for actors of color has likely helped where previous unfavorable conditions hurt actors' careers. There's still need for much more representation and we're excited to see where Boyega, in particular, heads next.
16 Flopped: Ahmed Best
There weren't many people of color starring in the first six Star Wars films. It seems a waste to cast Ahmed Best as one of the most annoying characters of the Star Wars franchises and of all time, Jar Jar Binks. Hated even more than Anakin Skywalker, Jar Jar's own people, who were annoying enough, couldn't even stand him. He was like the Ice Age series' Sid the sloth, only much less funny and overutilized. Born in New York City, Best caught the eye of George Lucas when he performed in a chorus line with Stomp and Lucas asked him to try out for the spot of Binks.
Although Best has appeared again in several video games and TV spots, he's never landed a role close to the fame of his Star Wars character. He has even taken a stab at producing, directing, and writing media, but none of it has been A-list material. Best has reprised the role of Binks in productions such as The Clone Wars and it was recently announced that the actor would voice him again in the upcoming series Star Wars: Underworld, but the tall, handsome actor certainly seems as if he deserves another shot on the big screen. He has stated, "I'm going to move on and do other things. My life isn't going to be about Jar Jar Binks."
15 A-List: Keira Knightley
Dubbed the most beautiful woman in the world by fellow English actress Sienna Miller, as well as many of her fans, Keira Knightley has been Elizabeth Swann of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, Anna Karenina of the titular film, Guinevere of the Arthurian legend, Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice and many other iconic characters. Before all of that fame, she played Padme's double Sabé in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Many never noticed that her character differed from Portman's and the idea of having a true body double in plain sight, in lieu of the behind the scenes double, proved to be brilliant.
Knightley's net worth is estimated to be around $60 million, but the practical actress, who also starred in the Oscar-nominated film Atonement, has stated that she gives herself an allowance of $50,000 annually. Although we are sure the actress doesn't require the budget to keep her from the poorhouse with all of her talent and future prospects, it's great to see a star so down to earth and willing to prepare for her future. Knightley will be seen next in this year's production of Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
14 Flopped: Peter Mayhew
One of the most beloved characters in the entire Star Wars series is also one of the oldest: Chewbacca. The faithful wookiee companion to Han Solo is played by the sweet but unconventional-looking actor, Peter Mayhew, who seems to love his character as much as the world does. The London native was discovered while working as a hospital staff member. Mayhew's interesting looks and extremely tall height at 7'3" worked well as Chewie, but have caused him to be overlooked elsewhere in Hollywood. Following Return of the Jedi, his career still mostly included spots as Chewoe, even including an appearance on Glee. Mayhew has always been a fan favorite, though, as he takes time for the public and has done some very kind deeds for Chewie super fans.
Unfortunately for his followers, Mayhew decided to retire after the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We can't blame the British actor. At 74, one deserves a break and Mayhew's knees were giving him great pain while acting. Former Finish basketball player, Jonas Suotamo, played Chewbacca in both The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. The transition was an emotional one for both the actors as well as fans and we'll always love Mayhew for giving us one of our favorite aliens of all time.
13 A-List: Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman is recognizable in many different A-list films. Portman played Queen Padmé Amidala, the compelling teen leader of Naboo in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Amidala is one of those characters who remains beloved despite the fact that the powers that be allowed her to "die of a broken heart," which is preposterous after the strength she demonstrated throughout all three prequels. Amidala deserved a more dignified death and we all know it.
Luckily, Natalie Portman has had a much more dignified career, launching into superstardom from one role to the next following the success of the film.
The brilliant Harvard student has wowed us with her performances in V for Vendetta, Annihilation and even kids' films like Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Portman has become something of a geek icon between her Marvel and Star Wars credentials and her net worth is around $60 million. The Oscar-winning actor and mother of two has also been an inspiration for young women interested in not only science fiction but the sciences as a life pursuit. Portman is pretty much the actor we all wish we could be BFFs with and we can't wait to see what she does next.
12 Flopped: Denis Lawson
Although Ewan McGregor was able to achieve success after his Star Wars days, his uncle, Denis Lawson, unfortunately had a much different experience. Premiering as Wedge (Red Two) in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, Lawson is more of an obscure trivia answer today than leading man material. Lawson remains a successful actor, finding work annually and appearing on numerous TV shows, but most of them are British and he's much more famously known as McGregor's uncle than anything else.
To be fair, Red Two is a much more low-key role than Obi-Wan, but Lawson, an old-school actor who even asks for makeup during interviews with photo shoots, seems to simply come from another time. His prolific acting has cost him greatly in terms of his health. He admits that he did a lot of damage to himself when he shot for TV or film during the day, while acting in productions at night. Lawson is known for giving his all to whatever he's starring in, which makes it so much more of a shame that he's not more of an A-lister. Even so, he's still performing and still lending his talents to numerous productions, from New Tricks to, more recently, In Plain Sight.
11 A-List: Dominic West
His face is one we've come to notice everywhere, from The Wire, Les Miserables, The Affair and, Tomb Raider. Dominic West may have been a pretty hard to notice lowly palace guard in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, a role that he landed after appearing in films like A Midsummer Night's Dream and Spice World, but it must have been just what he needed to skyrocket forward. West jumped right into the role of drunken Jasper in 28 Days, starred in movies like 2002's dazzling musical Chicago, the original gas lighting film The Forgotten and Dr. Lecter's prequel Hannibal Rising before truly coming into his own more recently with lots of TV (and some film) success.
The British actor has a modest net worth of $12 million. Between his Golden Globe nomination, many leading roles, and popularity with his most recent performances, he may rise to further heights on the A-list in the near future. He will be leading the cast in next year's drama I Feel Fine. The Affair has been renewed for a fourth season, much to the relief of the drama's many fans. Showtime isn't quite finished with Noah Solloway just yet.
10 Flopped: Mark Hamill
He'll never be a total flop in our hearts, but he's not your typical A-lister, either. Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker began as a whiny little brat who evolved more than many other characters throughout his days battling the Empire and in The Last Jedi, he pretty much broke our hearts. Some say Hamill never achieved the same kind of success that his co-star Harrison Ford was able to obtain because he wasn't as handsome or because his character wasn't as compelling in the series.
For whatever reason, he wasn't able to land any leading man gigs after playing the lead character in one of the most popular series of all time.
Hamill is still quite beloved for all of his voice acting work, from The Joker to Fire Lord Ozai. His witty takes on everything from politics to pop culture have made him a pretty big social media star. The Force will always be strong with Luke and his remarks about being more formidable than ever bring back the nostalgia we have regarding Obi Wan becoming Luke's spiritual adviser. We hope to hear him implore Rey to use The Force in the next installment of the series.
9 A-List: Rose Byrne
Before she was Professor X's main squeeze Moira MacTaggert in the X-Men films, Australian actress Rose Byrne was seen as Dormé in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. While the actress's role was minimal, she did well in the role of the loyal human handmaiden who foreshadowed Amidala's demise with her tears and worry. Byrne may be best known for her role in TV's Damages. She's also known for roles that vary from the serious to the hilarious, Byrne has entertained audiences in everything from Bridesmaids to Insidious, Wicker Park, and Marie Antoinette. She looks as though she will continue to have a prosperous career for many ears to come.
While many might not consider Byrne a true powerhouse of an actor, keep in mind that she was named Hollywood's most profitable actor in 2017 with a return of $9.80 for every $1 spent at the box office. She's had work every year since 1999, which is a huge accomplishment for any actor. Sure, some of them were duds (who else screamed at the screen throughout the entire film Knowing), but she's always demonstrated a wide range of emotions and some strong acting skills across the board.
8 Flopped: Julian Glover
Known for his role as the ancient Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO's Game of Thrones and Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Julian Glover has had enough steady acting work since his role as General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back to quantify him as a successful actor. But, he's never really achieved leading man status. He's been in everything from Magnum, P.I., Doctor Who, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, giving the British actor a pretty solid resume. He's been acting since 1959. For someone who's still finding work after that long, it's a pretty impressive career despite it slowing down following his Star Wars days.
After training with the National Youth Theater, Glover performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and is a pretty legendary face in England. Aging is suspected as one of the culprits to the slowing of Glover's career, as many villainous roles are awarded to younger, hot-headed actors. But, he still finds roles that suit his many talents and proves to remain a skillful actor. His dramatic talents make him a favorite when casting villains, and his services to drama earned him the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
7 A-List: Oscar Isaac
Whether or not fans of The Force Awakens will ever get to see Finn and Poe Dameron star as love interests for one another remains unknown, but Oscar Isaac has brought a new hope to LGBT fans of the series who would certainly enjoy some representation. Not to mention resolution between the well-developed tension between the Rebellion pilot and former Stormtrooper. Isaac has adorably fanned the fires of this fan theory, which is one of the reasons he is so popular. But, the handsome actor is also lending his talents to projects like Annihilation, X-Men: Apocalypse and the upcoming The Addams Family.
Isaac represents a new age of masculinity in film, the kind and introspective male hero who learns from his mistakes.
While he didn't begin as gentle and thoughtful as other examples, like Freddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, his character learned enough about sacrifice, mistakes and using a clear mind over the anger-induced, sometimes instinctive violent action throughout The Last Jedi. It led him to become not only a great leader, but a fantastic role model for those watching. Isaac's charming interviews also keep him a favorite fan presence.
6 Flopped: Billy Dee Williams
As one of the suavest, most handsome faces in the original trilogy, Billy Dee Williams proves that it's not just your character that limits your potential when it comes to exiting the Star Wars universe. Lando Calrissian had swagger before it was called swagger and proved that he could still be a good friend, even after making a terrible mistake. Second chances are a huge theme in Star Wars, which is why it's so sad that Williams' career went nowhere after playing the suave leader of Cloud City. Williams was set to play Two-Face in the Batman series before the role went to Tommy Lee Jones, which would have been an incredible twist on Harvey Dent. He hasn't had any big roles since.
Fortunately we have been able to hear Williams in various other Star Wars media, like cartoons and video games, and he's even voiced Two-Face in The Lego Movie. Donald Glover's portrayal of a young Lando welcomes newcomers to the series interested in the character. Many fans are waiting to find out if and when he'll show up in the current trilogy. Could he be related to Finn as some fans have theorized? Will we see him again? Cross your fingers.
5 A-List: Ewan McGregor
He's been Mark Renton, Lumiere and Phillip Morris, but long before these roles A-lister Scottish actor Ewan McGregor portrayed fan favorite Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. It was almost as satisfying to witness the growth and development of the young Jedi into the hermit Alec Guinness became before rejoining the rebellion, as it was to see him scold the annoying Anakin Skywalker and insist that he had too much darkness in him to his own Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. Where Jinn was instinctive, Kenobi was wise and his predictions manifested when Ani turned to the Dark Side.
McGregor, luckily, did not follow the Dark Side of The Force and instead entered the limelight, been in everything from Big Fish, The Island, Miss Potter, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, and many other moderate hits. With his winning smile, congenial personality and toolbox of acting skills, McGregor was able to do with Star Wars what some just weren't able to pull off, using Star Wars as a stepping stone to further his career. Fans are eagerly awaiting details about the origins story of Obi-Wan and whether or not McGregor will be involved, even if just for an ending scene.
4 Flopped: Jake Lloyd
Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, Jake Lloyd was a child prodigy known as Anakin Skywalker. While most can admit that Lloyd was a cute child actor who happened to be a better-loved Ani than Hayden Christensen, he was still nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor for 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Although he retired in 2001, he still appeared at comic conventions and sci-fi festivals to chat with his fans. He unfortunately had some problems that stalled his career, too. In 2012, Lloyd announced that the reason he decided to retire from acting altogether based not on lack of prospects, but because of the bullying he experienced due to his career. He even gave up all of his Star Wars merchandise because of the pain he felt associated with the franchise.
Lloyd has faced even more struggles than bullying in his life. He was hospitalized after being diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2015. Lloyd was also arrested for reckless driving, driving without a licence and resisting arrest, which led to jail time before his diagnosis. Prior to his Star Wars fame, Lloyd had starred in Jingle All the Way, Unhook the Stars, Apollo 11 and ER.
3 A-List: Daisy Ridley
The Force is strong with Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. The young woman bursts with energy and obvious excitement over playing one of the most awesome Star Wars characters of all time and she's not about to be stranded on Jakku by anyone in the near future. On the contrary, she has enjoyed roles in Murder on the Orient Express and Ophelia, served as executive producer for the documentary The Eagle Huntress and been featured on Barbra Streisand's 2016 album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway.
Following the current trilogy, we expect more great things from the talented actress.
At 25, Ridley said she had a lot of growing up to do. Admitting that two fans showed up on her doorstep for an autograph, she said "Everything was so confusing. People were recognizing me—I still don’t know how to handle it. My skin got really bad because I was stressed. It was crippling. I just felt so seen and so self-conscious." She says some advice from the indomitable Princess Leia has helped her navigate the waters of her stardom and we hope she has found some balance. Give Rey some space, guys.
2 Flopped: Hayden Christensen
When it comes to Star Wars, it truly is like father, like son. It's no wonder why Luke Skywalker seemed to be such a child when his predecessor, Anakin Skywalker, was the whiniest little snot of them all. That gave Hayden Christensen the same kind of reception that Mark Hamill has received. But like Hamill, not everything can be blamed on a single role and Christensen's career has flopped for a number of reasons. Christensen says it's because he was passed a torch that seemed too big for him to carry. "I felt like I had this great thing in Star Wars that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave." That may very well be, but it also may be a more graceful excuse than the obvious one. Christensen hasn't had much good work since Star Wars.
From Jumper to Outcast, American Heist to 90 Minutes in Heaven, his resume just hasn't featured anything close to a George Lucas production since. Some fans say that he's just not a great actor while others believe he hasn't received a decent chance from anyone. While he may not be acting as profusely as one might expect following that kind of exposure, he's enjoyed renovating a farm in Canada and selling his own clothing line at RW&Co.
1 A-List: Harrison Ford
He's still Han Solo. He's still Indiana Jones. For many, he's still as much a heartthrob as he was in 1977, even to the point of weirdly insisting that he play Han in the upcoming Solo film despite the fact that it predates A New Hope's Han by many years. Harrison Ford's superstardom stems from much more than a handsome face. Fans might argue that it's his kindness and affability that make him so beloved. Ford is well known for his heroics off-screen where he flies planes, saves lives and looks good doing it. The second highest-grossing U.S. domestic box-office star in history, Ford was paid $34 million to reprise his role in Episode VIII. His films have grossed over $4.7 billion domestically, which is just an incredible number.
Fans hoping that Solo gives the character justice may find solace in Ford's review. According to Ron Howard, "I had never heard Harrison effusive about anything, and he was raving about it." Ford said that Alden Ehrenreich had "made it his own," so those searching for pure Ford energy in the role might still be disappointed.
Which of these actors would you like to see more of? Let us know in the comments!