In our never-ending task to document the Galaxy Far, Far Away, we even surprise ourselves sometimes at some of the more obscure trivia we come across in the less traveled corners of Wookieepedia. The Star Wars franchise has been running strong for nearly forty years now, with seven theatrical films, eight spinoff movies, four television series, and countless other multimedia entries, from books to video games to radio dramas (though these numbers are soon to increase in just a few months!). So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that several hundred different actors and voice actors have been cast in official Star Wars projects over the years. But what may surprise you are some of the names included in that list of talent.
Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford…returning for Episode VII? (We think so!)
Did you know, for example, thatSimon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new Star Trek movies, also voiced the bounty hunter Dengarin Star Wars: The Clone Wars, or that Kiera Knightley, whom you know as Elizabeth Swann from the Pirates of the Caribbeanmovies, played Sabé, Queen Amidala’s lookalike handmaiden, in Episode I: The Phantom Menace when she was just 14? These are only two of some of the well-known Hollywood icons who have called the Star Warsgalaxy their home, if merely for a short time. With the recent news that Mark Hamill,Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford will apparently be reprising their roles in the upcoming film Star Wars Episode VII, we thought it would be fun to introduce you to our list of ten actors you never knew had a Star Wars credit.
We tried to compile a group of names that would surprise even the most hard-core fans. So, while it may no doubt surprise many of you to learn that actors like Bea Arthur (The Star Wars Holiday Special), George Takei (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and even Wilford Brimley (Ewoks: The Battle for Endor) have appeared in a Star Warswork, those are some of the more well-publicized examples. To make our list, an actor needed to meet three criteria: a) be instantly recognizable to mass audiences; be someone you wouldn’t necessarily associate with Star Wars; and c) have flown under the scanner, as it were, in earning their Star Wars legacy. Let’s get started…
10. Ron Perlman
We begin our list at number 10, with actor Ron Perlman, who is most recognizable as the lead role of Hellboy in the moviesHellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). You may also know him as the character Clay Morrow from the TV series Sons of Anarchy or as the disillusioned Soviet soldier Koulikov in the World War II drama Enemy at the Gates(2001). In addition, he has done voice-over work for dozens of TV shows and video games, including American Dad andFallout.
With such a diverse resume, it was probably only a matter of time before Perlman found his way into the Star Warsuniverse, in which he voiced the slimy Trandoshan scavengerGha Nachkt in two episodes of Season One of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Perlman’s character extracts R2-D2 from space battle wreckage and tries to sell the droid toGeneral Grievous, who kills the greedy Trandoshan rather than having to pay his fee.
9. Jason London
Next up is Jason London, who will probably always be best known as the character Randall “Pink” Floyd from the 1993 teen-escapade film Dazed and Confused, about a group of raucous, partying high-school students on the last day of school in 1976. In many ways, the movie harkens back to the 1973 film American Graffiti, George Lucas’ first box-office success as a director, prior to his Star Wars days. Just don’t confuse Jason with twin brother Jeremy London, whom you know as Jason Lee’s sidekick in Mallrats (1995) and from the TV series Party of Five.
Jason London has a little-known voice credit as the Mereresistance fighter Sol Sixxa in the 2002 video game Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter for PS2 and Xbox. London’s character aids the Feeorin pirate characterNym against the forces of the Trade Federation.
8. David Alan Grier
David Alan Grier
The Star Wars radio dramas, which aired on National Public Radio, featured several notable actors providing voice-overs for different Star Wars characters, and David Alan Grier won’t be the only person from those projects to appear on this list. Grier, a Shakespearean-trained funnyman, is best known for his work on the early ’90s television variety show In Living Color, where he became popular for playing various characters in humorous sketches, and also played the shoe factory worker-turned-policeman Carl Bentley in the Robin Williams film Jumanji (1995).
But Grier got his first big career break in NPR’s Star Warsradio drama (1981), voicing various characters, including aMos Eisley cantina patron corresponding to the character BoShek and a Rebel X-wingpilot during the Battle of Yavin. Grier also returned for The Empire Strikes Back radio drama, which aired in 1983.
7. Stewart Copeland
In 1985, following the theatrical conclusion of the Star Wars original trilogy and with no more future films planned, Lucasfilm turned its attention to producing two children’s animated television series: Star Wars: Droidsand Star Wars: Ewoks, which aired briefly on ABC until their cancellation in 1986. One of the highlights of theDroids cartoon is the series’ opening musical sequence, which features a theme song titled “In Trouble Again,”written and performed by none other than Stewart Copeland, drummer for the hit 1980s rock band The Police. A 2010 Rolling Stone magazine poll ranked Copeland as the fifth-greatest drummer of all-time. Although not technically an actor, Copeland makes this list for sheer originality.
Given Copeland’s talents, it’s really no surprise that “In Trouble Again” is a very catchy little tune. It has that perfect blend of retro and cheese that makes for an iconic ’80s cartoon theme song. It’s just a shame that Droids and Ewoks didn’t last longer than they did. Both shows suffered from an era in which Saturday morning cartoons hyped up the cuteness factor in an effort to sell more merchandise, which stunted writers’ creativity and the themes they were allowed to explore. Listen to “In Trouble Again” on YouTube.
6. Kevin Pollak
Like David Alan Grier, Kevin Pollak is another actor who owes his career start to a Lucasfilm production. Pollak, known for his portrayal of criminal characters in the films The Usual Suspects (1995) and The Whole Nine Yards (2000), debuted on the big screen in George Lucas and director Ron Howard’s 1988 fantasy film Willow, starring Val Kilmer. Pollak plays the character Rool, one of the Brownies of Andowyne.
But his official Star Wars credit predates even that. Pollak provided voice characterization for the 1985 made-for-TV movie Ewoks: The Battle of Endor, in which he is credited as the misspelled Kevin “Pollack”—a fairly common mistake for actors with bit parts.
5. Anthony Heald
If you’ve ever listened to a Star Wars audio book, there’s a good chance you enjoyed the voice-acting talents of Anthony Heald. You know Heald as Dr. Frederick Chilton, the pompous sanitarium administrator who oversees the incarceration of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Heald reprised his role as Chilton in the 2002 film Red Dragon and has also played assistant principal Scott Guber in the TV series Boston Public and Judge Harvey Cooper in the series Boston Legal.
In the Star Wars galaxy, Heald has narrated the audio book adaptations of more than thirty novels, single-handedly providing unique and varying voices for dozens of characters within a single story. It’s quite a treat (and even a little funny) to listen to Heald, whose voice is well-suited to play arrogant and prideful characters, bring to life all manner of the galaxy’s denizens, from Darth Vader to C-3PO, and even his versions of female roles, such as Princess Leia.
4. John Lithgow
Checking in at number four is John Lithgow. The classically-trained actor’s most famous roles include Rev. Shaw Moore in Footloose (1984), the alien character **** Solomon on the hit ’90s sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, and the voice of Lord Farquaad in the animated film Shrek (2001).
Although Lithgow is a proud three-time Emmy winner for the portrayal of his 3rd Rock character, his first role as an alien came as the legendary Jedi Master Yoda, Luke Skywalker’s strangely enunciating Forceinstructor, in NPR’s 1983 radio drama adaptation ofThe Empire Strikes Back. Lithgow scored the role after learning to imitate Frank Oz (who voiced Yoda in the films) characters while watching the television show Sesame Street with his young son and then demonstrating the Yoda voice for John Madden, the radio drama’s director. Lithgow reprised Yoda for the Return of the Jedi radio drama in 1996.
Interestingly, Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill also does a spot-on Yoda voice and wanted to play both Luke and Yoda in the radio drama, but Madden decided they needed separate actors for the two roles.
3. Rachael Leigh Cook
Rachael Leigh Cook
You probably know Rachael Leigh Cook from her films: She’s All That (1999), Josie and the Pussycats(2001), and Scorched (2003). Or, for you TV buffs out there, maybe you even remember that late ’90s anti-drug commercial with a frying pan-swinging girl demonstrating the dangers of heroin. But did you know that Cook is also an accomplished video game voice actress? She has provided the voice of character Tifa Lockhart in four entries of the Final Fantasy video game series.
Cook’s first foray into the world of Star Wars-themed projects came in 2008, voicingBeru Lars, Luke Skywalker’s aunt, in Seth Green’s parody Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II, and again in 2010′s Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode III. She has since parlayed that into an official Star Wars credit, voicing the character Jaesa Willsaam in the 2011 MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic. Cook’s character, a Jedi Padawan, falls to the dark side of the Force and joins the Sith Lord known as the Emperor’s Wrath.
2. Paul Reubens
We’re down to number two. If we haven’t surprised you yet, we expect these last two will.
Paul Reubens. Pee-wee Herman himself. While that character will, of course, always be his legacy, Reubens also memorably portrayed the drug dealer Derek Foreal, who betrays Johnny Depp’s character, George Jung, in the 2001 biography drama Blow, and also did voice work for Tim Burton’s animated classic The Nightmare Before Christmas(1993).
So, what epic and unforgettable Star Wars project bears the name of Paul Reubens? In the late 1980s, Lucasfilm andDisney (yep, their history goes back farther than you think) teamed up to create a Star Wars-themed attraction for Disneyland in California. The ride, named Star Tours, featured a jittery droid narrator named RX-24, or “Rex” for short, who served as the pilot of a passenger liner starship to simulate a space flight. Rex took guests on a harrowing journey, including an attack run on a Death Star. To accentuate Rex’s characterization as a beginner droid pilot, the ride’s developers decided to cast Reubens to voice the droid, given Reubens’ role as Pee-wee Herman, which required him to scream frequently and humorously.
While the Star Tours ride lives on to this day at Disney Parks around the world, Rex has since been replaced as narrator by another droid character, and Reubens by other voice actors. Still, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities of Rex and Reubens making a return to the galaxy far, far away….
1. John Wayne
John Wayne, nicknamed the “Duke,” is one of the most iconic figures in film history. He popularized the portrayal of rugged masculinity in Western films likeThe Searchers (1956), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), and True Grit (1969). The American Film Institute ranked him number 13 on its list of the Greatest Male Screen Legends of All Time. And, believe it or not, John Wayne even had a role in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Well, sort of.
The story goes that Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt, who came up with some downright pioneering methods for creating Star Wars voices and sound effects, used an audio recording of John Wayne’s voice from one of the Duke’s movies to create the insectoid voice of the Kubaz spy Garindan, who leads Imperialstormtroopers to the Millennium Falcon‘s Docking Bay 94 in Mos Eisley on Tatooine. Burtt confirmed at a conference in 2007 that he had used a synthesized electronic buzzing of a human voice for Garindan—but when he went back years later and listened to the recording, he realized it was John Wayne dialogue, something along the lines of “All right, what are you doin’ in this town?”
Of course, the Duke’s voice is heavily processed and totally unrecognizable in the film, but we’re guessing you’ll never look at Garindan in quite the same way again. So, while John Wayne might not officially have a Star Wars credit, you’re nonetheless hearing his voice every time you watch A New Hope! In the Duke’s own words, “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t talk too much.”
Honorable mentions: Jeff Anderson (Clerks), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption), Lacey Chabert (Party of Five), Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Olivia d’Abo (The Wonder Years), Jefferson Starship (The Star Wars Holiday Special), Jaime King (Pearl Harbor), John Ratzenberger (Cheers), David Tennant(Doctor Who), Henry Thomas (E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial), David Warner (Titanic),Treat Williams (Everwood)
And that concludes our list of 10 actors you never knew had a Star Wars credit. We hope we surprised you in one way or another, and showed you just how deep the Star Wars rabbit hole goes if you dare to look hard enough. We proudly claim to be the only site on the Internet where you can find all of this information in one place! What other secrets does Wookieepedia hold? Well, you’re just going to have to explore for yourself!
Toprawa and Ralltiir is a Wookieepedia Bureaucrat who joined the site in 2007. He helps manage the Wookieepedia Facebook page and Twitter account. You can contact him on his talk page.