Star Wars was first released in 1977 and quickly became an essential part of pop culture. Over the years, the original trilogy has had several movie spin-offs, a couple of TV series (live-action and animated), videogames, novels and comic books and even entire theme parks dedicated to it. Let’s look at some of the Star Wars cast members that brought the most beloved characters to life.
The legendary Jedi Master is one of the most iconic good guys the world has ever come to know. He was the son of Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala and helped the Rebel Alliance to destroy the Death Star and bring down the Empire. Luke was also responsible for bringing Darth Vader back to the light side.
Hamill debuted as Luke in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and would reprise the role from Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. His likeness was also used in the recent Star Wars TV shows: The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
Since playing Luke Skywalker for the first time in 1977, Hamill has had several notable roles, including voicing Batman’s most iconic villain, The Joker, in several animated films, TV shows and even the Arkham video game series. Still, Luke will always be his most memorable role.
As far as the Star Wars cast goes, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker is arguably the most important character.
Princess Leia – Carrie Fisher
Leia Organa was one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance and the twin sister of Luke Skywalker; she took no nonsense from anyone and eventually fell in love with Han Solo. Leia quickly became a role model to young girls and one of the most iconic women in sci-fi history. She was not a damsel in distress waiting for someone to rescue her, but a woman on a mission who could handle a gun and ended up being the one the saved both her love interest and herself in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.
Unfortunately, Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016 after reprising her Star Wars: The Force Awakens role. After starring as Leia, Fisher would feature in a couple of films, including When Harry Met Sally… and Scream 3, but Princess Leia would continue to be one of her most memorable roles.
The talented young actress Vivien Lyra Blair brought her character to life again in Kenobi. Blair did a fantastic job recapturing the Princess’ sass and intelligence. Much like a young Carrie Fisher, Blair’s Leia stared the Empire down without fear, even in the face of torture.
Like her brother, Luke, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia is one of the most important cast members of the Star Wars Skywalker Saga.
Han Solo – Harrison Ford
Everyone’s favourite smuggler. We first met Han Solo when Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker hired him to help rescue Princess Leia and deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance. He eventually falls in love with Leia, and the two of them would have a son, Ben Solo, who turns to the dark side.
Harrison Ford was one of the actors that benefitted the most from his role in Star Wars.
After his success as Han Solo (a role he briefly reprised in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi), he would go on to play several other iconic roles, including Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a character he would play for five films. Ford was also recently rumoured to be taking over the role of Thunderbolt Ross in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the late William Hurt.
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, Alden Ehrenreich was cast as a younger Han Solo.
Lando Calrissian – Billy Dee Williams
Once a fellow smuggler of Han Solo’s and the original owner of the Millennium Falcon, Lando was the administrator on the Cloud City of the gas planet Bespin, who betrays Solo and hands him over to Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. He returns in the next film and redeems himself by helping rescue Han Solo and leading the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The suave nature and complexity of the character had Star Wars fans falling for him.
Billy Dee Williams would return to reprise his role as Lando in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. He began his acting career on Broadway and made his film debut with The Last Angry Man, but he didn’t get too far until he starred in Brian’s Song.
Donald Glover brought Lando Calrissian to life in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Obi-Wan Kenobi – Alec Guinness
After his initial introduction in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi quickly became a fan favourite. For fans, he started as a mentor to Luke Skywalker, who would guide him through the ways of the force even in death.
Ewan McGregor was later cast as the younger version of the popular Star Wars character.
Chewbacca – Peter Mayhew
Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk. He is the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon and the first mate and loyal friend of Han Solo, who helped restore freedom to the galaxy. Chewie is one of the few Star Wars characters who appear in all three trilogies.
The character was brought to life by the late Peter Mayhew, who was immediately cast for the role when George Lucas saw how tall he was. After Mayhew retired from the role in 2015 due to health issues, Joonas Suotamo would take over the part for the last two films in the sequel trilogy and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Ben Burtt voices the Wookie and also did the sound effects for many of the Star Wars characters, including the beeps of R2-D2 and the heavy breathing of Darth Vader.
C-3PO – Anthony Daniels
Originally built by Anakin Skywalker, C-3PO is a protocol droid fluent in 6 million forms of communication. Threepio is often seen with R2-D2 and wailing about how the small astromech will end up being the death of him. The character has always been present at pivotal moments in the Star Wars franchise and has been under the employment of several influential characters.
Anthony Daniels has portrayed every film rendition of the droid since the first movie was released, including several Star Wars TV series and films unrelated to Star Wars, such as Ralph Break the Internet and The Lego Movie. The only film he doesn’t appear in is Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Darth Vader – David Prowse and James Earl Jones
Darth Vader is the most iconic movie villain in pop culture. Even those who haven’t seen Star Wars know who he is and will quote his famous line, “I am your father”. He was a Sith lord and the chief enforcer of the Galactic Empire. Before his death, Vader returned to the light side of the force and sacrificed himself to kill Emperor Palpatine and save his son.
While the late David Prowse was the actor that physically portrayed Vader (selected because of his height), James Earl Jones was the one who provided the villain’s iconic voice. Jones continued to reprise his role as Vader in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and several Star Wars shows, including Star Wars Rebels and Kenobi. He was also the voice of Mufasa in both the animated and live-action versions of The Lion King.
Sebastian Shaw was later used to portray the unmasked Darth Vader and the Force Ghost of Anakin Skywalker, but Hayden Christensen replaced him in 2004.
Yoda – Frank Oz
Yoda is another one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars and was introduced in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. He has a distinct speech pattern and is a wise mentor to many Jedi, including Luke Skywalker. While most of the time, he is a sage, slow movie teacher, Yoda has been known to get up to some mischief in his old age.
Frank Oz was the puppeteer and voice of Yoda, who reprised his role for the 6th episode as well as the sequel and prequel trilogy and Star Wars Rebels. Oz would be the puppeteer behind several famous characters throughout his career, including Miss Piggy and The Cookie Monster.
Tom Kane would voice the character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Wilhuff Tarkin – Peter Cushing
Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin was one of the main antagonists in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. He was unsympathetic and ordered the destruction of Alderaan, Leia’s home planet. His character was later referred to as “one of the most formidable villains in Star Wars history.”
This lethal character was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing, who spent many of his scenes in slippers, which Carrie Fisher found hard to take seriously. Cushing described his character as a “deeply cross and unpleasant gentleman”.
His likeness was used for the character in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (portrayed and voiced by Guy Henry) and several animated Star Wars series (voiced by Stephen Stanton).
Sheev Palpatine – Clive Revill
The Emperor of the Empire was first introduced in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back and would serve as the main villain for the rest of the Skywalker Saga. When he was first introduced to audiences, he was the all-powerful master of Darth Vader. The prequels further expanded his character and made him a politician who drew Anakin Skywalker to the dark side.
Clive Revill initially portrayed Sheev Palpatine, but in 2004 his performances were replaced by Ian McDiarmid, who reprised his role in all the Star Wars films where Palpatine appeared.
Kenobi was a Jedi Knight and the master too Anakin Skywalker. He was the former padawan of Qui-Gon Jinn and a general of the clone armies during the Clone Wars. He can often be bitingly sarcastic and constantly reprimands Anakin for his actions.
Ewan McGregor does a brilliant job portraying Kenobi and is often praised as one of the best parts of the Star Wars Prequels trilogy. James Arnold Taylor voices the character in the animated shows and several video games.
Obi-Wan was such a beloved character that he was given his own series in 2022, during which he rescued a young Princess Leia and returned her to her adoptive family.
Anakin Skywalker – Hayden Christensen
Anakin Skywalker is the son of Shmi Skywalker and the father of Luke. He was brought to the Jedi High Council by Qui-Gon Jinn after he won his freedom and was trained as a Jedi Knight by Obi-Wan Kenobi. He would later become the master of Ahsoka Tano.
He fell for Padmé Amidala and later married the Senator in secret. His love for Padmé and worry for her safety would later be one of the factors that turned him to the dark side.
The younger version of Anakin was brought to life by Jake Lloyd in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Hayden Christensen was cast in the role for the last two films in the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy and would return to reprise his role as Darth Vader in Kenobi. Matt Lanter portrayed the voice of the animated version of Anakin Skywalker.
Padmé Amidala – Natalie Portman
Padmé was Naboo’s Queen and Senator and later Anakin Skywalker’s wife. She is best known for her elaborate outfits and her willingness to do anything for her planet. Padmé has a lot of responsibility put on her from a very young age. Still, she handles the pressure well and can hold her own against enemies who would prefer her dead.
Natalie Portman gained much recognition from playing Star Wars‘ Padmé and has since been cast in several large franchises, including Jane Foster/Mighty Thor in the MCU. Catherine Taber voices the animated version of her character.
Qui-Gon Jinn – Liam Neeson
Qui-Gon was the master of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who had very different beliefs from the Jedi High Council. He brought Anakin before them, believing him to be the “Chosen One”, but was killed by Darth Maul before he had the opportunity to train him.
Liam Neeson brings the character to life several times, sometimes as a disembodied voice, other times as a Force ghost, which is seen in an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and in the finale episode of the first season of Kenobi.
Mace Windu Samuel L. Jackson
Windu is a member of the Jedi High Council and one of the only force-sensitive beings to wield a purple lightsaber. He is one of the more powerful Jedi and an immensely talented duelist. In addition, Windu is one of the more sarcastic and wisest characters in Star Wars, able to tell when he is being deceived and doing everything possible to ensure that the innocent are protected.
Sam L. Jackson does a brilliant job bringing this character to life. He reprised his role as the voice for the animated version of his character in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars films, but Terrence C. Carson voices his character in the animated shows and video games.
Years later, it was revealed that Lucas initially cast 2Pac as Windu in the Star Wars franchise before his death.
Jango and Boba Fett are the most iconic bounty Hunters in Star Wars. While Boba Fett was first introduced to audiences in the original trilogy, fans were given a bit more of his back story and introduced to his father in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. Unfortunately for Boba, his father dies at the end of the film.
Temuera Morrison did a brilliant job portraying Jango Fett and many of the clones in episode 2. He was soon brought on to play the role of Boba Fett in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, both of which made him a slightly more sympathetic character, as opposed to the ruthless bounty we had previously known him as.
Rey is the protagonist of the sequel trilogy, introduced to us in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As a child, she was abandoned on Jakku and later began training under Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. She turns out to be the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. After defeating him, she takes on the name Rey Skywalker.
Ridley had her acting breakthrough after being cast as the Star Wars character and has starred in several films, including Murder on the Orient Express, Chaos Walking and Ophelia.
Kylo Ren/Ben Solo – Adam Driver
Kylo Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, who turned to the dark side and tried to honour the legacy of the grandfather, Darth Vader, which is a little counterproductive given that Vader returned to the light when he died. He was trained in the dark side of the Force by Supreme Leader Snoke and spent many of the films trying to lure Rey to the dark side before she turns him.
Adam Driver does a marvellous job portraying Kylo Ren and has had numerous roles that further display his acting talent since he first played the character in 2015.
General Hux – Domhnall Gleeson
Armitage Hux is a military commander in the First Order who has no love for Kylo Ren. He is later revealed to have been a spy within the First Order and helped Poe, Finn and Chewbacca escape. He only turned against the First Order because of his rivalry with Kylo Ren.
Domhnall Gleeson did a brilliant job portraying General Hux. Over the years, he has become increasingly popular among audiences.
Poe Dameron – Oscar Isaac
Poe Dameron is the sarcastic pilot that brought the Storm Trooper, Finn, into the resistance. His personality seems to change between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi and his character is compared to Han Solo regularly. He is extremely affectionate with his droid BB-8 and takes great joy in irritating the First Order, which is made clear by his interactions with Kylo Ren and General Hux. He is the leader of the Resistance’s Black Squadron, and by the end of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, he has become the General of the Resistance alongside Finn.
Oscar Isaac did a brilliant job as Dameron and brought the character to life in a memorable and entertaining way. His relationship with Carrie Fisher’s Leia is one of the best parts of the sequel trilogy.
As far as the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy’s cast, Oscar Isaac is probably the strongest.
Finn – John Boyega
Originally FN-2187, Finn was a Storm Trooper who defected from the First Order and rescued Poe Dameron. However, after the tie-fighter he stole, he crashes on Jakku, finds Rey and is unwillingly thrown into a war between the Resistance and the First Order, eventually becoming a co-General alongside Poe Dameron.
John Boyega did an excellent job as Star Wars‘ Finn, and since then, he has been cast in several notable films, including Pacific Rim: Uprising and The Woman King.