Now that we’re in the midst of a new generation of Star Wars films under Disney, more and more actors are getting the chance to appear in a franchise that they more than likely grew up with. Of course, even with new Star Wars films being released every year, 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, but long before his filmmaking career took off, he got his start as a storyboard artist for Lucasfilm out of college. Johnston worked on all three original trilogy films and even designed Boba Fett’s iconic armor and equipment, but he also made appearances in front of the camera. Johnston 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.
24. John Ratzenberger – The Empire Strikes Back
John Ratzenberger is perhaps best known for his role as Cliff Clavin on the TV show Cheers and for his numerous voice roles in Pixar films, including Toy Story’s Hamm. However, prior to landing his big break on Cheers, Razenberger had minor roles in films such as Superman (1978) and The Empire Strikes Back. In the latter film, Ratzenberger 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 Bree 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.
23. Julian Glover – The Empire Strikes Back
Another veteran actor who makes an appearance in The Empire Strikes Back is Julian Glover, who 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, but suffers serious leg injuries that would confine him to a hoverchair for the rest of his life.
22. Tony Cox – Return of the Jedi
It’s well known that Warwick Davis got his big break playing the Ewok Wicket in Return of the Jedi, but Episode VI cast several other prominent dwarf actors as the lovable furballs. Tony Cox is one such actor. playing Wicket’s older brother Widdie. Much like Davis, Cox had only minor roles before being cast in Star Wars and has gone on to have a successful acting career, with prominent roles in films such as Spaceballs, Me, Myself & Irene, and Bad Santa.
21. Deep Roy – Return of the Jedi
One of the most recognizable dwarf actors in the world also had a role in Return of the Jedi, but you probably didn’t recognize him because of the costumes he wore. In addition to playing Snit, the horn player in the Max Rebo Band that performs at Jabba’s Palace, actor Deep Roy also played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi. 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 (2009), and a recurring role as Mr. Sin on Doctor Who.
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 Seafinowicz, who has appeared in films such as Shaun of the Dead, Spy, and Guardians of the Galaxy (he played the Nova Corps officer Denarian Saul. We’re not really sure why a character who only speaks a few lines of dialogue needed a dedicated vocal performer but to be fair, they were pretty good lines.
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 as Jerus Jannick, one of the Palace Guards of Naboo. Jerus is a rather nondescript member of Queen Amidala’s guard detail, but he does help the queen capture Viceroy Nute Gunray.
18. Sofia Coppola – The Phantom Menace
In addition to Keira Knightley, another big name star who appeared as one of Padmé’s handmaidens in Episode I is Sofia Coppola, who was still in the midst of getting her directing career off the ground when she picked up a minor role as Saché in The Phantom Menace. Coppola’s feature film directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides, premiered at Cannes the same month The Phantom Menace hit theaters and she would go on to earn the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, as well as a Best Director nomination just a few years later for her 2003 film Lost in Translation.
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 probably totally missed is Richard Armitage, who has a blink and you’ll miss it background role as an uncredited Naboo Fighter Pilot (he’s second from the right in the picture below). Armitage was a young, unknown actor at the time but has since gone on to have prominent roles in The Hobbit film trilogy as Thorin Oakenshield and the third season of NBC’s Hannibal, in which he played serial killer Francis Dolarhyde.
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, but prior to her breakout role in 2004’s Troy, Byrne was still a relative unknown in the industry. One of her earliest Hollywood roles was a minor appearance as Queen Amidala’s handmaiden Dormé (side note: what actress didn’t get her start playing one of Padmé’s servants?) 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.
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.
14. Joel Edgerton – Attack of the Clones/Revenge of the Sith
Perhaps the most prominent role on this list next to Darth Maul, a younger version of Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen is played by Joel Edgerton in both 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 such films as Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby, and the underrated horror film It Comes at Night.
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 also gave a minor role to his son Jett, who 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 the the Order 66 Jedi Purge. Jett has since gone on to team up with Heavy Metal magazine to launch a publication dedicated to cannabis culture, of all things.
12. Keisha Castle-Hughes – Revenge of the Sith
In Revenge of the Sith, we learn that Naboo has a new teenage queen: Queen Apailana, who attends her predecessor Padmé’s funeral at the end of the film. 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, but 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.
11. George Lucas – Revenge of the Sith
George Lucas may have created the Star Wars saga but he’s never been a director known for making cameos in his own movies, opting instead to spend his time behind the camera. However, after 28 years working on the franchise, Lucas finally decided to make an on-screen appearance in his final Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, and 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 playright who appears during the film’s senate scene. It may not be the glamorous cameo we would have expected but it makes a little more sense when you consider that Lucas wrote Papanoida as a lover of the performance arts who frequently attended shows at the Galaxies Opera House on Coruscant and secretly served the Galactic Republic as an intelligence agent who may or may not have been working for himself the whole time, but was strongly opposed to Palpatine. Papanoida also appeared in an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but was voiced by Corey Burton that time out.
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. This means that Pegg is one of the few actors who has crossed the Star Wars/Star Trek divide, as he has also held down the much more prominent role of Scotty in the rebooted Star Trek film. 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.
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 unnamed patrons 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.
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, but he also 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 vis TIE Fighter. He then gets blown to bits by Finn, eliminating any hope of another appearance down the road.
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 due to the fact that he’s in full stormtrooper gear for his entire appearance. 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 but otherwise, the 007 actor is playing against type here, as his character is easily duped by Rey’s Jedi mind trick, releasing her from captivity and handing over his weapon in comedic fashion.
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).
5. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Last Jedi
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson have a long history of collaboration, as JGL starred in Johnson’s first feature-length film Brick (2005) as well as the filmmaker’s first mainstream hit, the 2012 sci-fi film Looper. It’s no surprise then to discover that Johnson gave his friend a small role in The Last Jedi, with Gordon-Levitt voicing 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.
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 of 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.
3. Gareth Edwards – The Last Jedi
Returning the favor for Rian Johnson’s cameo apperance 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.
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: A Star Wars Story 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 but he’s voiced by a pretty famous actor/director. The wise-creacking 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 Hward as an “important alien” and 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.