Cameos You Probably Didn’t Notice in ‘Star Wars’

12 minute read

By Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

Although Star Wars will take a hiatus from the big screen after The Rise of Skywalker, that hasn’t slowed down the amount of content being produced for the prolific sci-fi franchise. As proven with The Mandalorian, Disney+ opens the door for more serialized Star Wars content. With more content being produced, more and more actors are getting the chance to appear in a franchise that they more than likely grew up loving.

Of course, even with new Star Wars projects being announced regularly, there are only so many starring roles to go around. Thankfully, this is a franchise with a long history of small, unexpected cameos, including from a number of up-and-comers. While there have been many more cameos over the years than the ones listed below, here are 25 of the best obscure Star Wars performances that you may have missed.

25. Joe Johnston – A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back

Nowadays, Joe Johnston is best known as the director behind such films as The Rocketeer, October Sky, and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Long before his filmmaking career took off, Johnston got his start as a storyboard artist for Lucasfilm. He worked on all three original trilogy films and even designed Boba Fett’s iconic armor and equipment.

In addition to being an artist, Johnston made a couple of appearances in front of the camera. He has an uncredited role as an Imperial gunner in A New Hope and another as Shawn Valdez, the Rebel captain who oversees the evacuation of Echo Base, in The Empire Strike’s Back.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

24. John Ratzenberger – The Empire Strikes Back

John Ratzenberger is perhaps best known for his role as Cliff Clavin on Cheers and numerous voice roles in Pixar films, including Toy Story‘s Hamm.

Prior to landing his big break on Cheers, Ratzenberger had minor roles in films such as Superman and The Empire Strikes Back. In the latter film, he plays Major Bren Derlin, a Rebel Alliance officer who served as the operations and security chief at Echo Base.

If you’re wondering specifically which character is Bren Derlin, he’s the one who orders the base door be closed while Han Solo is out looking for Luke Skywalker in the frozen wastes of Hoth.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

23. Julian Glover – The Empire Strikes Back

Another veteran actor who makes an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back is Julian Glover. However, he is better known for his roles as Nazi collaborator Walter Donovan in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Grand Maester Pycelle on Game of Thrones.

Glover plays General Maximilian Veers, who leads the Imperial assault on Hoth. While it’s implied that Veers dies in the battle, he actually survives the destruction of his AT-AT walker. Unfortunately, Veers suffers serious leg injuries that would confine him to a hoverchair for the rest of his life.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

22. Tony Cox – Return of the Jedi

While it’s well known that Warwick Davis got his big break playing the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi, he wasn’t the only dwarf actor cast for the movie.

Tony Cox is one such actor. He plays Wicket’s older brother Widdie. Much like Davis, Cox had minor roles before being cast in Star Wars. Since then, he has gone on to have a successful acting career, with prominent roles in Spaceballs, Me, Myself & Irene, and Bad Santa.

Source: Picture via Lucasfilm/Disney

21. Deep Roy – Return of the Jedi

Deep Roy — one of the most recognizable dwarf actors in the world — also had a role in Return of the Jedi, However, you probably didn’t recognize him because of the costumes he wore. Roy would play Droopy McCool, the horn player in the Max Rebo Band that performs at Jabba’s Palace, along with an unnamed Ewok.

Roy is perhaps best known for playing the Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But you may also recognize him for his roles in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Star Trek, and as Mr. Sin on Doctor Who.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

20. Peter Serafinowicz – The Phantom Menace

Everyone knows that Ray Park played the iconic villain Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, but did you know that someone else did his voice? That would be actor Peter Serafinowicz, who has appeared in films such as Shaun of the Dead, Spy, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

We’re not really sure why a character who only speaks a few lines of dialogue needed a dedicated vocal performer. To be fair, they were pretty good lines.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

19. Dominic West – The Phantom Menace

Best known for his TV work in acclaimed series like The Wire and The Affair, a young Dominic West had a minor role in The Phantom Menace. He played Jerus Jannick, one of the Palace Guards of Naboo.

While Jerus is a rather nondescript member of Queen Amidala’s guard detail, he does help the queen capture Viceroy Nute Gunray.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney; Picture via History Garage

18. Sofia Coppola – The Phantom Menace

In addition to Keira Knightley, another big name star who appeared as one of Padmé’s handmaidens in The Phantom Menace is Sofia Coppola.

While taking on this minor role, Coppola was in the midst of getting her directing career off the ground. In fact, her feature film directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides, premiered at Cannes the same month The Phantom Menace hit theaters. Coppola would go onto earn the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as a Best Director nomination just a few years later for Lost in Translation.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney; Picture via History Garage

17. Richard Armitage – The Phantom Menace

Say what you will about The Phantom Menace, but the first Star Wars prequel has an absolutely stacked cast. Particularly when it comes to minor Naboo characters.

One cast member that you totally missed is Richard Armitage, who has a blink and you’ll miss it background role as an uncredited Naboo fighter pilot. Armitage was a young, unknown actor at the time. Since this small role, he has gone on to have prominent roles in The Hobbit film trilogy as Thorin Oakenshield, NBC’s Hannibal as Francis Dolarhyde, and Netflix’s Castlevania as Trevor Belmont.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

16. Rose Byrne – Attack of the Clones

Australian actress Rose Byrne has built an impressive career as both a comedic and dramatic actress, starring in such films as Bridesmaids, Neighbors, and Insidious.

One of Byrne’s earliest Hollywood roles was a minor appearance as Queen Amidala’s handmaiden Dormé in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Not to be confused with Cordé, the decoy who is killed during a bounty hunter attack on Coruscant, Dormé accompanies Amidala to the Loyalist Committee with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and sees her queen off when she travels back to Naboo.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

15. Ahmed Best – Attack of the Clones

You probably recognize Ahmed Best as the actor who portrayed the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks. While Best reprised that role in Attack of the Clones, he also has a minor role as different character who you probably didn’t recognize because he looks nothing like Binks. Best plays Achk Med-Beq, a con artist posing as a Republic Security Force officer in the Outlander Club on Coruscant.

Interestingly, George Lucas’ daughter Katie Lucas appears in the very same scene as a purple Twi’lek.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

14. Joel Edgerton – Attack of the Clones/Revenge of the Sith

Perhaps the most prominent role on this list next to Darth Maul is Joel Edgerton’s role as a younger version of Uncle Owen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

While anyone who goes back and watches either film will most likely recognize Edgerton now that he’s a legitimate movie star, he was still a relative unknown in the early 2000s. Edgerton has since gone on to star in Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby, and It Comes at Night.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

13. Jett Lucas – Attack of the Clones/Revenge of the Sith

George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise has been a gift to millions of children the world over, including the filmmaker’s own kids.

In addition to his daughter Katie, George gave a minor role to his son Jett. He plays the young Jedi Padawan Zett Jukassa in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The thought of George Lucas casting his son as a young Jedi is sweet until you consider that it also means that his character gets slaughtered by Clone Troopers during Order 66.

Jett has since gone on to produce the short film Wolf Trap and work on VFX production for The Mandalorian.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

12. Keisha Castle-Hughes – Revenge of the Sith

In Revenge of the Sith, we learn that Naboo has a new teenage queen: Queen Apailana. Apailana is played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, who at the time was best known for starring in the 2002 film Whale Rider at the age of 12.

She has since worked predominately in television. Some of Castle-Hughes’ credits include playing Obara Sand in HBO’s Game of Thrones and Tabby on Manhunt: Unabomber.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

11. George Lucas – Revenge of the Sith

George Lucas may have created the Star Wars but he’s never been a director known for making cameos in his own movies. Instead, opting to spend his time behind the camera. However, after 28 years of working on the franchise, Lucas finally decided to make an on-screen appearance in his final Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith. It’s such an unexpected cameo that there’s a good chance you totally missed it.

Lucas plays a blue-skinned alien named Baron Papanoida, a statesman and playwright who appears during the film’s senate scene. It may not be the most glamorous cameo we would have expected, but it makes a little more sense when you dive into the character’s backstory. Papanoida as a lover of the performance arts and secretly serves the Galactic Republic as an intelligence agent.

Papanoida also appeared in an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but was voiced by Corey Burton that time out.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney; Modification via GamesRadar

10. Simon Pegg – The Force Awakens

Simon Pegg is a hard guy to miss. Unless you cover him up in a massive alien costume, that is.

One of the best secret cameos in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Pegg plays the junk dealer Unkar Plutt on Jakku. You know, the guy who undersells Rey on all of her salvage and then has the nerve to call the First Order on her.

According to Pegg himself, his superior knowledge of all things Star Wars helped him turn Unkar Plutt into a much bigger role than it was initially.

Source: Picture via Lucasfilm/Disney

9. Miltos Yerolemou – The Force Awakens

Here’s a cameo that longtime Game of Thrones fans are sure to appreciate. Miltos Yerolemou, who’s perhaps best known for playing Arya’s sword combat instructor Syrio Forel, has a minor role in The Force Awakens as an unnamed patron at Maz Kanata’s bar.

If you’re wondering why so many Game of Thrones actors have popped up in the newer Star Wars films, it may have something to do with the fact that both Star Wars and Game of Thrones share the same casting director, Nina Gold.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

8. Thomas Brodie-Sangster – The Force Awakens

Thomas Brodie-Sangster is best known for his roles in Love, Actually, Maze Runner, and, of course, Game of Thrones. He has a brief cameo in The Force Awakens as First Order Petty Officer Thanisson.

Brodie-Sangster’s character is the one who notices there’s been an “unscheduled departure” from the First Order capital ship orbiting Jakku when Poe and Finn escape via TIE Fighter. He then gets blown to bits by Finn, eliminating any hope of another appearance down the road.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

7. Daniel Craig – The Force Awakens

Unless you already knew about it going in, it would have been hard to spot Daniel Craig’s widely rumored cameo in The Force Awakens. This is due to the fact that he’s in full stormtrooper gear for his entire cameo.

Craig plays FN-1824, better known as the stormtrooper who is assigned to guard Rey aboard Starkiller Base. The only real clue that it’s Craig under the helmet is his voice. Otherwise, the 007 actor is playing against type here. His character is easily duped by Rey’s Jedi mind trick, releasing her from captivity and handing over his weapon in comedic fashion.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

6. Rian Johnson – Rogue One

The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson didn’t make a full cameo in his own movie, but he did appear in another filmmaker’s Star Wars feature. Johnson turns up in Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One as a member of the gunner crew operating the Death Star laser. The other half of the duo is played by producer Ram Bergman.

Technically, Johnson does have a cameo in The Last Jedi, but only his hand appears on-screen. When Luke takes Han’s dice from the Millennium Falcon and pockets them, Johnson’s hand is the one that grabs them.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Last Jedi

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson have a long history of collaboration. JGL starred in Johnson’s first feature-length film Brick, as well as the filmmaker’s first mainstream hit, Looper. So it’s no surprise to discover that Johnson gave his friend a small role in The Last Jedi.

Gordon-Levitt voices the alien Slowen Lo, inspired by the Beastie Boys song “Slow & Low”. Slowen Lo is the guy who gets really upset about the fact that Rose and Finn do such a bad parking job on Canto Bight.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

4. Tom Hardy – The Last Jedi

Leading up to the release of The Last Jedi, there was a lot of buzz about the film’s celebrity cameos. Specifically, it was reported that Tom Hardy would take a page out of fellow Brit Daniel Craig’s book and appear as another high-profile stormtrooper. However, the film came and went and Hardy’s cameo was nowhere to be found.

It turns out that the scene, which involves Hardy’s stormtrooper recognizing a disguised Finn and congratulating him on his “promotion” with a supportive smack on the butt, was cut from the theatrical release. Fortunately, the deleted scene is available on the home video version.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

3. Gareth Edwards – The Last Jedi

Returning the favor for Rian Johnson’s cameo appearance in Rogue One, Gareth Edwards shows up in The Last Jedi as a Resistance trooper. Edwards can be spotted in the trenches on Crait, looking on incredulously as the trooper beside him has a taste of the planet’s salt-covered surface.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

2. Clint Howard – Solo

Had Ron Howard not shared a photo on Twitter, there’s a good chance his brother Clint’s cameo in Solo would have gone undiscovered for some time.

Clint, who has an extensive acting career in his own right, appears in his brother’s film as the guy who runs the droid fighting pit in the same location where Han Solo challenges Lando Calrissian to a game of Sabaac. He ends up running afoul of Lando’s droid L3-37, who grabs his face in anger, prompting Lando to ask her to “Let go of the mean man’s face.”

1. Jon Favreau – Solo

The ill-fated pilot Rio Durant, a multi-armed member of Tobias Beckett’s crew, is a CGI creation. However, he’s voiced by a pretty famous actor/director. The wise-cracking Rio is played by Jon Favreau, who you probably know as the director of films such as Iron Man and The Jungle Book.

Favreau’s role was initially teased by Ron Howard as an “important alien”. Well, Rio certainly is important, in the sense that he needed to die in order to let Han prove himself to Beckett by showing off his piloting skills.

Source: Screenshot via Lucasfilm/Disney

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)