Mark Hamill. Jon Boyega. Even Harrison Ford. Once they were nobodies- people scrounging to pay bills and put food on the table just like the rest of us. Then George Lucas came along and cast them in the Star Wars movies. Since then, they’ve become household names, big actors, and well-known stars. Perhaps if it weren’t for that galactic space opera none of those people would be where they are today.
However, they didn’t always act professionally. They had to do something before they became part of one of the biggest franchises in cinematic history. You’d actually be quite surprised to learn what these actors did to get by in the past. Some went into acting from the start, but never caught a big break until Lucas, but others did stuff that you and I would end up doing- perhaps even worse than that…
Some of these actors even came into the Star Wars universe by accident, only knowing lines because they had heard them over and over again. Regardless of how they came by it, their efforts certainly paid off, launching many careers and giving them years of fame and stardom. Everyone started in humble beginnings though. They didn’t stumble upon it overnight.
Here are 15 interesting jobs that Star Wars actors worked before they got into professional acting. Read carefully, you may have more in common with them than you think.
15. Mark Hamill – HS Drama Club
The famous actor who portrayed Luke Skywalker had a very mobile life. His father served in the U.S. Navy so relocating was very frequent for the Hamill family. Because of this, Hamill didn’t really have a lot of time for a job, but he spent most of his days in the high school drama club, which he was good at, if you can imagine. After graduating, he attended a university where he majored in drama, before he finally appeared in a few small television programs before auditioning for the role of Luke Skywalker.
14. Harrison Ford – Camp Counselor
Before spending his days as the swagger-infused Han Solo, Harrison Ford was once a Boy Scout, even earning the second-highest ranking there is, the Life Scout. Ford went on to remain active in camping and outdoor-related activities. This led him to become a camp counselor at Napowan Adventure Base Scout Camp, where he was the leading counselor in charge of the Reptile Study merit badge. It’s ironic that when he went on to play Indiana Jones, his character had a deathly fear of snakes and scales.
13. Carrie Fisher – Author
Princess Leia, portrayed by Carrie Fisher, was heralded as one of the strongest female roles of all time, and fits so well with Han Solo. But before Fisher was worried about saving the Rebel Alliance from the clutches of the Galactic Empire, there was another battle she had to fight. She struggled with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. After recovering from it, she wrote a book titled Postcards from the Edge about how she was able to beat those demons. It’s an amazing story and I’m sure glad she is all better now.
12. Peter Mayhew – Talk of the Town
If you thought the lovable Chewbacca was created using some kind of practical effect, then you’re wrong- it’s really just a tall guy in a suit. Peter Mayhew’s career is mostly due to his size, having been affected with a genetic disorder called Marfan Syndrome. However, this has also been his greatest asset. The entire reason he was even selected for the Chewbacca role was because of his portrayal as the Minotaur in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He acquired the role of the legendary beast simply because he stood 7′ 3″ tall. Luckily, he’s a gentle giant.
11. Sir Alec Guinness – Writer
The old and wise Obi-Wan Kenobi himself, Alec Guinness didn’t have it easy growing up. The identity of his father was unknown, and his mother remarried to a man suffering from PTSD. However, this didn’t stop him from pursuing a good career. Before he started acting, Guinness worked as a writer, specifically writing copy for particular advertisements. It wasn’t until after that, around age twenty, that he began work in small plays before he left to serve in the Royal Navy during World War II. After the war he began acting in films.
10. Jon Boyega – Church Ministry Apprentice
The fantastic performance of Jon Boyega in the latest Star Wars film as Finn was one to write home about. It was a role he worked hard for and deserved every minute of, acting through various schools since he was about fourteen. However, acting wasn’t always the option that was considered. As a matter of fact, Boyega’s family was very religious as his father was a minister at their local church. Making him attend church every day, Boyega’s father originally intended for his son to become a minister someday and even apprenticed Jon for a while. Eventually though, Hollywood called him for the biggest film release of all time.
9. Daisy Ridley – Jazz Singer
Daisy Ridley, in my opinion, did the best job in Episode VII in her role of Rey. She grew up in a family that was talented in the performing arts, so I guess it was definitely up her alley. Since she was little, she always had an interest in acting and was very much a natural at it. However that wasn’t the only thing she wanted to do. While attending a school specializing in performing arts, she also managed to pick up jazz singing, and worked incredibly hard to perfect that. Perhaps we’ll see that come into play in Episode VIII?
8. James Earl Jones – Janitor
The deep voice behind the great Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones will forever go down in history as the man who made one of the best villains of all time. His story is quite interesting. Growing up, he was a mute until he got into high school. After he graduated, he joined the military and was discharged with the rank of first lieutenant. Afterward, while he was studying at theater school, he worked as a simple janitor to be able to support himself financially. Talk about doing what you gotta do!
7. Hayden Christensen – Hockey Star
Famous (or infamous) for his controversial portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in the prequel trilogy, Hayden Christensen is still famous whether you feel he can act or not. However, in high school, he had much different interests on his mind. He was a great athlete, and was incredibly good at the sport of hockey. He did, after all, grow up in Canada where it’s a much bigger sport (some might say religion). He went on to play competitively, and this led to his later interest in playing tennis professionally. Despite his oft-argued acting ability in Star Wars, there is no doubt he was a heartthrob.
6. Ewan McGregor – Stagehand
Some people start from the very bottom and slowly work their way up. This is precisely what Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the prequel trilogy, did. He grew up with the legacy of a military family but never took an interest to it. He attended Morrison’s Academy, just like the rest of his family, but eventually dropped out at 16 to work at Perth Repertory Theatre as, you guessed it, a stagehand. He did this while he studied a basic drama course at a local college. It was this experience (among other roles) that led to him getting the part in Star Wars.
5. Anthony Daniels – BBC Radio
C-3PO is one of the most heartwarming characters to come out of the original trilogy (next to R2-D2 of course). Anthony Daniels did an excellent job playing the role of the robot plagued with OCD. He was interested in acting school at a relatively young age, but after he left, he didn’t pursue it right away. Instead he opted to work for BBC Radio. After a good amount of service there, he received an award from them which led to him being able to launch his acting career. He holds the honor of being the only actor to have been in all seven of the Star Wars movies.
4. Ian McDiarmid – Psychologist
The sinister Emperor of the Galactic Empire frightened audiences everywhere, and Ian McDiarmid did an excellent job playing the part. Since he was five years old, he had always loved the theatre, but was heavily discouraged by his father. Because of this, he went to college and studied psychology. Eventually, he earned his Master of Arts in the subject. Despite his prowess in the field, he didn’t stay there for long. He soon chose to pursue his childhood dream of acting. Perhaps it was his understanding of the mind that allowed him to play his role so well…
3. Billy Dee Williams – Painter
The suave Lando Calrissian was one of the more interesting and lovable characters in Star Wars, played by “go-with-the-flow guy” Billy Dee Williams. Williams always loved the arts but didn’t begin acting right away. Instead he entered the world of painting. He even attended a fine arts school in New York to pursue that dream. After he finished his role as Lando, he resumed painting. He is currently responsible for the covers of the Thelonious Monk Competition programs, as he is also an avid jazz fanatic.
2. Jason Wingreen – Air Force
It seems kind of fitting that the voice actor for the bounty hunter, Boba Fett, would have previously served in the Air Force. Jason Wingreen served during World War II and was stationed overseas in England and Germany respectively. After he returned home, and thanks to the G.I. Bill, he was able to go to school and study acting. Unfortunately, his work as Boba Fett was later replaced in special editions of the original trilogy to streamline continuity with the prequels. Many people will never know who voiced Boba Fett first.
1. Temeura Morrison – Entertainer
The prequel trilogy was responsible for giving Boba Fett an origin story. It was in this that we found out that his father was also a bounty hunter named Jango Fett, played by Temeura Morrison. It was also Morrison who replaced Jason Wingreen’s voice-work in the original trilogy due to Boba being a clone of Jango. Before he played the gun-slinging mercenary, Temeura actually worked with his uncle, Sir Howard Morrison, one of the most renowned entertainers in New Zealand, on various shows. It wasn’t long before Temeura decided to pursue acting. He’s even in talks to play Boba Fett in an upcoming Star Wars spin-off film.