It’s hard to gauge just how enormous the impact Star Wars has had on modern culture. Most fans can vividly remember the first time they were introduced to the galaxy far far away, and many younger viewers cannot even remember a time when they hadn’t seen the science fiction epic. Given such a pedigree, it would seem that any actor should have no trouble landing leading roles after being associated with the franchise , but this is not always the case.
There are a myriad of reasons why stardom does not continue once an actor’s time in Star Wars finishes. Following up such a massive role and pleasing both fans and critics is incredibly difficult. For stars of the prequel trilogy, their careers may be tainted by the stigma that surrounds those three movies. Whatever the reason, a lifelong A-list status just was not in the cards for everybody who worked on the films.
It should be noted that while not all of the actors listed below became movie stars, several still maintained successful television careers or had successes in different areas of the film industry. This list also does not aim to be malicious towards any of the people on it. Regardless of what happened to them after Star Wars, they will always be an important part of cinema history
Here are 15 Star Wars Stars Whose Careers Flopped After The Movies Ended.
15. Jake Lloyd
Jake Lloyd never got a fair shake when it comes to his appearance in Star Wars. Following the Phantom Menace’s release, many critics and fans maligned his performance as the young Anakin Skywalker. In fact, Jake cites intense bullying in school as a principle reason for his retirement from acting in 2001. He appeared in only one film after Episode One and has not acted in any production since.
Ignoring the quality of the performance, one always has to remember that Jake was just a small child when he was cast in the first film of the prequel trilogy and no child does deserves humiliation he was forced to endure in the years after the film came out.
14. Ian McDiarmid
Emperor Palpatine is a perfect villain. His mysterious background and disfigured appearance gave viewers the impression that Darth Sidious was the pure embodiment of the dark side of the force, and Ian McDiarmid’s skin crawling performance as the sith lord really drove this point home. However, the incredible acting did not lead to more high caliber film roles.
McDiarmid spent most of the years after Return of the Jedi on British television and the occasional film. Fortunately for fans, the Scottish actor played Palpatine again for the prequel films, but afterwards he went right back to television films and series.
13. Hayden Christensen
Still being just twenty four years old when Revenge of the Sith hit theaters, Hayden Christensen had a promising career waiting for him after his turn as Anakin Skywalker. His role as a misanthropic teenager in 2001’s Life as a House even earned him a Golden Globe nomination. Despite this strong foundation for a successful acting career, the years after Episode Three did not see his celebrity grow any further.
The two biggest films Christensen acted in after 2005 were Jumper and Takers, neither of which made a huge splash at the box office. However, it does not seem that Hayden yearns for those old Hollywood glory days. In recent years, he bought a farm and seems fully dedicated to embracing the agricultural life style.
12. Billy Dee Williams
Lando Calrissian is one of the coolest characters in the any of the Star Wars movies. The administrator of Cloud City has enough charisma to match Harrison Ford’s presence on the screen. This charisma did not come from out of thin air, but from the charming actor that portrayed him, Billy Dee Williams.
Following Return of the Jedi, Billy’s most notable role was playing Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s Batman. Unfortunately, when the third film in that series saw Harvey becoming the legendary villain, Two-Face, Williams was replaced by Tommy Lee Jones. Since then, the actor has not had any large parts in any major film, but he has reprised the role of Lando Calrissian in several animated shows and video games.
11. Jimmy Smits
An undeniably talented actor, Jimmy Smits is best known for his performances on numerous television shows. Before being cast as Senator Bail Organa, Smits could be seen on such highly regarded series like L.A. Law and NYPD Blue. The adopted father of Princess Leia was an important part Revenge of the Sith, so it seemed natural for the New York born actor to take on bigger film roles afterwards.
However, Jimmy Smits has only appeared in five movies in the years since the prequels and one of those was Rouge One: A Star Wars Story. On the other hand, the parts on television still keep rolling in for the sixty year old actor as he has recently had significant roles in 24: Legacy, The Get Down, and Sons of Anarchy.
10. Mark Hamill
Being a key player in a Star Wars film is great for your resume, but it is incomparable to being the protagonist of a whole trilogy. Luke Skywalker was the character young audiences could relate to, wide eyed and ready for adventure. Strangely enough, Skywalker would be the last starring role Mark Hamill would play.
What followed after Return of the Jedi was a series of smaller parts in movies and television shows. More notably, however, is that he also provided his voice for the English dub of Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky. This may be where Mark found his true calling, as he has since become a prolific voice actor. His most famous performance would be The Joker on Batman the Animated Series.
9. David Prowse
Much like Ray Park, David Prowse had the misfortune of being completely covered up and dubbed over when he donned the boots and helmet of Darth Vader. What’s worse is that Prowse was unaware of the dubbing during the production of A New Hope and this greatly frustrated him. The towering actor still does not see eye to eye with George Lucas and not just because of the height difference.
Even if David holds disdain towards the legendary filmmaker, he cannot deny that Darth Vader was the biggest role of his career. It may not have led to more roles of similar importance, but without it he would have no other notable characters in his filmography.
8. Carrie Fisher
From the moment the credits started rolling on May 25th, 1977 during the first showings of A New Hope, Carrie Fisher was forever immortalized. Still, her legacy extends far beyond the role as the princess turned general, being an inspiration for women and anyone who has struggled with mental illness or addiction. Unfortunately, her career after the original trilogy was a little bit troubled.
Fisher’s most notable roles from between 1983 and 2015 were in The Burbs and When Harry Met Sally. Besides those, she also had a recurring role on Family Guy and a memorable cameo appearance in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
7. Peter Mayhew
Hollywood likes a tall leading man, but Peter Mayhew is at a whole other level. At 7′ 3″, he had just the right quality to make everyone’s favorite wookie a truly believable character on film. Although his extreme height made him perfect for Chewbacca, it also meant that he was not going to be cast in roles that required a more average height. Because of this, his filmography is rather sparse after Return of the Jedi.
He may not have any other memorable characters to his name, but Peter fully embraces the good fortune that Star Wars and Chewbacca have given him. A quick google search will show that he’s done some incredibly kind deeds for fans of the series.
6. Pernilla August
Pernilla August’s first English language role was that of Shmi Skywalker, mother of Anakin, in The Phantom Menace. The actress is originally from Sweden, which is interesting because both Hayden Christensen and Mark Hamil both have a little Swedish in their blood. As far as anyone knows this was not planned, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility when considering George Lucas’ attention to detail.
After her character’s last appearance in Attack of the Clones, Pernilla went back to appearing in mostly Swedish movies and television. Did she try to grab more Hollywood roles or does her interest as an actress lie exclusively in her homeland? Her career in Sweden is doing quite well so she can’t be blamed for not wanting to try her hand in the United States.
5. Ahmed Best
Jar Jar Binks stands out as a particularly reviled element of the prequel films. To many audiences approval, the infamous gungan’s role was made smaller with each subsequent film. Unfortunately for Ahmed best, Binks would be the last part he would have in any major motion picture.
After Revenge of The Sith, most of Ahmed’s work has been reserved for bit parts on TV shows and a handful of voice over performances in video games. He’s had some movie roles, but nothing that comes close to the level of a Star Wars movie.
Does Ahmed hold any ill will towards his character? He has reprised the role numerous times for the The Clone Wars animated series and even for the Robot Chicken Star Wars specials, so maybe the actor does hold a soft spot for Jar Jar.
4. Ray Park
It is a special type of circumstance to have a key role in of one of the biggest movies ever made, but have almost no speaking lines and a face covered in makeup and horns. Additionally, when said character, Darth Maul, does actually speak, the lines are dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz. This may be the principle reason why Ray Park’s movie career did not take off after The Phantom Menace.
After 1999, Park played Toad in X-Men and Snake Eyes in the under appreciated live action G.I. Joe films, two roles that also obscured his appearance. While Ray Park may not be a household name, he is still a world renowned, award winning martial artist, so he shouldn’t feel too bad if his big break as Darth Maul did not pay off the way he may have expected.
3. Temuera Morrison
Everybody loved Boba Fett, so it was a pleasure to see his character’s father, Jango, in Attack of the Clones. Even though the mercenary met his demise by the end of that film, Temuera Morrison still got to take part in Episode 3 as the clone troopers since they were all made from Fett’s DNA.
In the years after Revenge of the Sith, Temuera failed to get any roles as big as Jango. However, he did get a nice consolation prize of having his voice featured in future releases of Empire Strikes Back voicing Bobba Fett. While it must be nice for Temuera, it sucks for Jason Wingreen to be cut out of film history.
2. Anthony Daniels
It’s safe to say that Anthony Daniels has fully embraced the character of C-3PO. As proof of this, look no further than the fact that he is the only actor to appear in all nine Star Wars films. Outside of those, he plays the anxious droid in pretty much every TV show and video game he’s been in. Steady work is good, but it also has the drawback of being the only thing he’s really known for.
Daniels’ career outside of Star Wars has no other major roles and most people would be hard pressed to name another project he has done. Besides the numerous appearances as C-3PO, the actor’s output has been very limited.
1. George Lucas
For any movie fan born after 1970, George Lucas is responsible for an integral part of their childhood. Not only is he the mind behind the Star Wars Universe, but the filmmaker is also one of the creators of Indiana Jones. In more recent years, however, people’s faith in his film making ability has been shaken.
When the prequel films were released, they failed to capture the viewers’ imaginations the way the original movies did. The over abundance of CGI, while important for the film industry as a whole, created a disconnect for audiences. In 2008, Indiana Jones returned to the big screen, but some choices Lucas made for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull did not sit well with moviegoers.
People may believe that George Lucas can’t tell a good story anymore, but no one can ignore the fact that he gave audiences two of the most legendary series ever.
Which of these careers disappointed you most? Let us know in the comments!
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