Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, chances are you know that the Star Wars: The Force Awakens is being released on December 18. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve probably already secured your tickets to one of the countless screenings (seriously – in order to cope with the astronomical demand, movie theatres are running the movie through all hours of the night for the first little bit). Even if the release of the latest film doesn’t mean much to you, you’ve probably seen the endless posts on social media, the Star Wars themed packaged foods, the new special edition Darth Vader PS4 console, etc. Simply put, the world has Star Wars mania!
In order to prepare for the long-awaited film, many fans have likely decided to re-watch all the old Star Wars flicks. And sure, you’ll see all your favorite characters and beloved scenes – but pay a bit more attention to the background this time around, because there are a few actors who played minor characters in the Star Wars franchise and then went on to have incredibly successful careers, but are pretty much never associated with the films created in a galaxy far, far away. Here are 10 celebrities you likely didn’t know were in Star Wars films.
10. Rose Byrne
Rose Byrne has proven her skill as an actress in a variety of roles, both comedic and dramatic. From a law school graduate in television show Damages to a hilarious friendship competitor opposite Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids, Byrne has definitely made a name for herself on the A List. Everyone knows that the Australian actress had a series of roles in her native country before breaking out in Hollywood, but there was one particularly memorable young role – in Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It turns out that Keira Knightley isn’t the only current superstar to be one of Padme’s crew – Byrne played the role of Dormé, one of Padme’s loyal servants.
9. Richard Armitage
Over the years, Richard Armitage has crafted a strong reputation for himself, snagging roles in television series including Robin Hood, Spooks, Strike Back and more. He became known to international audiences when he snagged the role of warrior dwarf Thorin in The Hobbit film franchise. However, before he did any of that, he had a very small, uncredited role in The Phantom Menace. That’s right – it turns out, Armitage was an unnamed Naboo fighter pilot in the film. It may not be the role he’s most known for, but seeing as it was one of his first acting roles ever, that’s quite a place to start!
8. Sofia Coppola
When you come from a family that’s incredibly connected in the film industry, it’s really only a matter of time before you snag a few small roles in films. I mean, the daughters and sons of well-connected studio executives and directors are likely frequently hanging out on films sets – and that’s exactly what happened with Sofia Coppola. Nowadays, she’s famous in her own right as the director behind films like Marie Antoinette, Lost in Translation, and The Virgin Suicides. Back when Episode I was filming, however, she was just a daughter visiting her father Francis on set. Turns out, her father was good friends with George Lucas. When she came to the set, Lucas found his friend’s daughter a costume and stuck her in a short scene as one of Padme’s handmaidens, Saché.
7. Joel Edgerton
Joel Edgerton has been building his career for quite awhile, getting acclaim for roles in films like Warrior and Zero Dark Thirty. He even starred alongside Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the leads in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, playing the iconic Tom Buchanan. However, this Australian actor also has a role in Episode II and Episode III of the Star Wars film franchise. It makes sense, as the principal photography for those films happened in Australia, so why not take advantage of the local talent? So, who did he play? You might remember Luke’s future adoptive parent, Owen Lars – that was a young Joel Edgerton!
6. Dominic West
Any fans of cult classic television show The Wire will know exactly who Dominic West is – he played the memorable Detective Jimmy McNulty. However, The Wire wasn’t West’s first foray into law enforcement on screen. Well, not really – West had a small role in The Phantom Menace playing a palace guard on Naboo. It definitely isn’t a major role, and you really need to watch carefully to spot him, but he’s there. Detective McNulty definitely has a bigger role, and a more complex backstory, than West’s palace guard did, but hey – you have to start somewhere.
5. Julian Glover
At this point in his career, Julian Glover has so many credits to his name that it’s quite easy to forget a few of the roles he’s played. Most recently, audiences will recognize him as Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO’s beloved Game of Thrones. However, there’s another role of Glover’s that might not be as fresh in the general public’s memory – he was in The Empire Strikes Back! Glover portrayed the imperial commander who was responsible for leading the raid on Hoth at the beginning of the film.
4. Keira Knightley
British actress Keira Knightley really catapulted to superstardom thanks to her role as the tomboy soccer star Juliette in Bend It Like Beckham. She had a few minor roles before snagging the lead in the popular sports flick, but let’s be honest, since she started getting the lead in everything from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to Love Actually and Pride and Prejudice, her astronomical success has far overshadowed any earlier roles she may have gotten. However, there’s one particularly memorable one for George Lucas fans – in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, a young Knightley played Sabe, the decoy for Amidala, played by Natalie Portman. The resemblance between the two is striking, and while Knightley is fairly easily identifiable looking back, at the time the British star was still just starting out and not yet a household name.
3. Keisha Castle-Hughes
Keisha Castle-Hughes became one of the film industry’s precocious young talents when she landed the lead of Paikea Apirana in the film Whale Rider at the young age of 13. The New Zealand-born actresses received a ton of awards show attention, including a nomination in the Best Actress category at the Academy Awards. After a debut like that, it’s no wonder that Castle-Hughes went on to snag roles in countless other films and television shows – including, of course, Game of Thrones, and The Nativity Story. However, she was also in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith as Queen Apailana clad in royal attire.
2. Deep Roy
Deep Roy may not be a name you’re familiar with, but chances are you’ve seen a fair bit of his work. He’s most known as being the actor behind every single Oompa Loompa in Tim Burton’s remake of an iconic film, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As it turns out, Roy is no stranger to playing multiple roles in a film – he was the talent behind several credit and uncredited roles in the Star Wars films, including Droopy McCool, an Ewok on Endor, being the body behind everyone’s favorite wise green creature, Yoda, and more. What a busy guy!
1. Celia Imrie
While she may not be as familiar to North American audiences, any Star Wars fans in the UK will know exactly who Celia Imrie is – she played Claudia Bing in the beloved series Absolutely Fabulous, as well as countless small or guest starring roles on other British television series. International audiences will recognize her as Una Alconbury in the Bridget Jones films. However, there’s one cinematic classic that you may not know Imrie was in – and it’s quite the role! Imrie appeared as a Naboo pilot in The Phantom Menace. She was one of many Naboo pilots, sure – but it turns out that Imrie has the distinction of being the first female fighter pilot seen on screen in the Star Wars film franchise.