13 Most Famous Living Star Wars Celebrities
Recent years haven’t been kind to beloved Star Wars actors. Carrie Fisher, Kenny Baker, and Peter Mayhew have all passed away.
Even after the loss of such beloved actors, the Star Wars universe claims some of the most famous people in the industry. Here are the greatest living celebrities from the Star Wars franchise.
Let’s be honest. Every time we hear that Harrison Ford is flying a plane, we get scared. For the longest time, Ford claimed a spot as one of the biggest box office draws in the world.
Much of his success stems from Star Wars, where he turned Han Solo into a screen legend for the ages. Ford is both a bona fide Hollywood icon AND one of the most seminal performers in the franchise’s history.
James Earl Jones
As much as I love Ford, I could make the argument that James Earl Jones means more to the Star Wars universe.
On the one hand, he doesn’t physically appear onscreen in the Holy Trilogy. On the other, he voices Darth Vader, and it’s one of the most memorable performances in the history of cinema.
Everyone you know can identify Vader’s voice due to the actor. Oh, and he’s also one of the most storied performers of all-time. Star Wars was just a side gig for him!
Hamill’s enjoyed one of the most unique careers of all Star Wars performers. He had already appeared on more than 20 television shows before earning the role of Luke Skywalker.
In the annals of cinema, few characters claim better name recognition than Skywalker. However, outside of Star Wars, Hamill’s career didn’t soar as much as those of his co-stars, Ford and Carrie Fisher.
Still, he’s earned legions of fans over the years for some of his work, especially voicing the Joker in several animated series and movies.
Then, Hamill embraced his career resurgence thanks to the most recent trilogy. In these stories, Hamill returned as Skywalker and somehow seemed cooler than he ever had in the 1970s and early 1980s.
Billy Dee Williams
Nothing gets done in Cloud City unless Lando Calrissian is involved. That dude’s a boss.
Since the moment Billy Dee Williams first appeared onscreen in The Empire Strikes Back, audiences adored Calrissian as well as the actor portraying him.
From a social perspective, the importance of the character cannot be overstated. An entire generation of actors grew up believing that they could conquer Hollywood because Billy Dee Williams had already done it.
Since 1977, Anthony Daniels has been in the business of Star Wars. In fact, he’s probably done more with the franchise of anybody other than George Lucas.
Daniels has portrayed C-3PO in every movie plus many videogames, television series, and ancillary media opportunities.
Everyone knows and loves Daniels for his adorable take on the ultimate robotic tightass. And like the recently deceased Peter Mayhew, Daniels has embraced his celebrity and happily interacted with fans throughout the years.
Some of these celebrities earn a spot more for their career accomplishments than for their work with Star Wars.
For example, I think we’d all agree that Daisy Ridley matters more internally in the Star Wars universe than Natalie Portman. However, Ridley’s body of work as an actress is just okay thus far.
For Portman, on the other hand, Padme Amidala’s role in the Star Wars prequel has proven divisive over the years. The character was underwritten, and the “Hold me like you did on Naboo” jokes will never die.
Still, she’s Natalie freakin’ Portman! She’s won an Academy Award and was already a superstar before she ever signed up for Star Wars. Plus, Queen/Senator Amidala cosplay is always incredible.
Samuel L. Jackson
Speaking of established celebrities, Samuel L. Jackson didn’t join the Star Wars franchise until five years after Pulp Fiction. Suffice to say that he didn’t need to play Mace Windu for career reasons.
Instead, Jackson wanted the role for the same reason everyone else would have joined the project. He loved Star Wars and wanted to play a powerful Jedi. I mean, who wouldn’t?
Since his Star Wars role, Jackson has somehow leveled up even more by portraying Nick Cage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, and he’s Frozone in The Incredibles franchise, too!
We’ve already established that voice actors can leave a massive imprint in Star Wars lore. And that matters a lot.
Like Jackson and Portman, Nyong’o had already established herself as a star before she joined the latest Star Wars trilogy. She won an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave and dazzled on Broadway in Eclipsed.
To Star Wars fans, she’ll forever be known as Maz Kanata, the bespectacled millennial pirate. Seriously, she’s more than one thousand years old.
I vacillated between Nyong’o and Adam Driver. Had the latter actor actually won an Oscar, he might have snuck on the list instead.
I decided that someone with an Academy Award is a more prominent celebrity, even though Driver matters more to the recent trilogy. If you disagree, I understand entirely.
The whole discussion is a slippery slope. I could have included Keira Knightley since she technically played Amidala’s handmaiden. That one felt like a cheat, though.
If you haven’t guessed, Ridley, Driver, and Knightley were my final three cuts…and I feel terrible about Ridley.
History may prove that she’s the most seminal character to future generations of Star Wars fans. Unfortunately, her most significant non-Rey role is as the voice of Peter Rabbit.
Liam Neeson is one of the highest-grossing actors of all-time, and there’s a funny note about that.
When the Star Wars prequels came out, everyone would have dismissed this fact, saying that Neeson was hardly a star. Since then, the actor’s role in Taken has blossomed into a second career as a terrifying revenge-taker.
Independent of the role, Neeson has become the modern-day John McClane. Sadly, even though he’s known for his acting chops, Neeson has never won an Academy Award. Doesn’t that blow your mind?
In the Star Wars universe, Neeson performed in a fascinating role. For a generation, Obi-Wan Kenobi embodied the idea of the wise tutor/mentor.
As Qui-Gon Jinn, Neeson became the person who taught Kenobi how to become that sort of leader.
I’ve run movie websites since the 1990s. The one thing I’ll state with confidence is that nobody’s ever going to agree on the quality or lack thereof for the Star Wars prequels. Peace will arrive in the Middle East before that day comes.
Despite all the social media conflicts, the consensus opinion is that Ewan McGregor crushed his role as the younger version of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Now, part of his popularity may stem from the fact that he got to chop off both of Hayden Christensen’s legs. The other consensus opinion is that casting Christensen as Darth Vader set back cinema by 30 years.
No matter where you stand on any of these topics, you agree that Ewan McGregor is a sublime talent and a terrific guy, right?
Okay, let’s talk about the two crucial parts of this.
One: most of us would have lost an alive/dead trivia challenge involving the actor who played Emperor Palpatine.
That dude looked older than C. Montgomery Burns all the way back in Return of the Jedi.
Two: he might have the most Scottish name of anyone outside of a Shakespearean play.
Still, he’s Emperor Palpatine. And 40 years after the fact, he’s still finding new and inventive ways to screw up the lives of various Skywalkers. I applaud his dedication.
Those of us who are old enough remember Davis better for his unforgettable role, Willow. Or, if you’re a darker soul, the Leprechaun franchise.
For Star Wars fans, Davis brought to life several characters, including an Ewok named Wicket Widget Warrick.
Davis wasn’t even supposed to play that role. The late Kenny Baker would have taken it, but he fell sick during production.
Taking improvisational ideas from his dog, Davis nailed the role. In fact, he did it so well that when Lucas wrote Willow, he had Davis in mind the whole time.
Since the Star Wars days, Davis has embraced another unforgettable fantasy/sci-fi role. He’s also Griphook the Goblin in the Harry Potter franchise.
Obviously, everyone’s list of the most famous living Star Wars celebrities would look slightly different.
Some of them, like Ford, Jones, and Hamill, are automatic. Others are more…divisive.
For example, you may not have considered the master puppeteer for this list. To me, he’s pretty much my first choice.
Yoda, as a character, wouldn’t work without the right person manipulating the puppet. However, that’s only half the story. It’s Oz’s voice work that has elevated Yoda into one of the most memorable non-human characters of all-time.
Anytime you celebrate May the 4th, you’re paying tribute to Oz. No, he wasn’t the first Star Wars character to say it, but his usage was the most meaningful.
Headline image: Electronic Arts and Lucasfilm