Here Are the Famous Faces Behind the Incredible Star Wars Characters
The Star Wars franchise is no stranger to extravagant costumes, at times bordering on ostentatious, but one that stands out for some of the best and the worst ensembles is Padmé Amidala. A formidable female character in the series, the Queen turned Senator of Naboo, made her first appearance in the prequel The Phantom Menace.
Who can forget her flashy wardrobe designed by the renowned costume designer Trisha Bigger? Amidala was only 14 when she became the ruler and her diverse range of dresses, including her purple travel gown and moss-green velvet ensemble, reflected her vibrant persona.
The stunning actress who breathed life into the iconic character Padme Amidala was Natalie Portman. She was barely 16 when the legendary filmmaker George Lucas cast her for the role that fetched her international recognition as a star.
Her captivating presence, from the gorgeous Queen of Naboo to a powerful representative on the senate in the Star Wars trilogy, catapulted Natalie to stardom well before she became an Oscar-winning actress. Throughout the three prequels, she played a character extremely vital to the plot and has earned a permanent place in the hearts of Star Wars fans.
Darth Maul - Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace
Like Padme Amidala, Darth Maul first appeared in the 1999 Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace. He was introduced as a secondary antagonist, trained by the de$$ly Sith overlord Darth Sidious, who kept him by his side as his apprentice for most of the initial series.
Throughout the series, the menacing warrior wielded a terrifying double-bladed lightsaber. Maul used it to fight with a disturbing ferocity that challenged the Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi. He wore layered, black kimono-style robes with various tabs cut into different lengths to facilitate his swift martial arts moves.
The man who physically portrayed Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace was Ray Park. He got the menacing villain bit down pat with his imposing physique. People loved him in the role so much that he reprised the part in Solo: A Star Wars Story and later on in the final season of the animated television series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.”
Ray was working as a stuntman when he was offered the part of a Sith warrior by George Lucas. Even though the role involved only a few lines, his voice was dubbed over in all his appearances.
Jar Jar Binks – Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Fans of the Star Wars franchise can barely forget Jar Jar Binks. Even though he faced criticism for his annoying nature in the movies, the character is undeniably a game-changer in visual effects. Yes, the member of the Naboo-based amphibious Gungan race is fully computer-generated!
Jar Jar Binks is remembered for his tall and skinny body with long, flabby ears and projecting snout. His natural complexion is green. To help him breathe when he is outside of water, he might also have a breather-like organ. Despite his strange appearance and clumsiness, we guess Jar Jar Binks is a well-intentioned character.
The great man behind the costume and success of Jar Jar Binks is none other than Ahmed Best. He’s a musician and actor who won the audiences’ hearts for his incredible performance in the Star Wars films.
Jar Jar is a computer-generated imagery character that was fabulously brought out using motion capture of Ahmed and his voice. So, no wonder he has become a fan favorite at Star Wars conventions. When not in character, the prolific artist stands out because of his tall stature, bald head, and exotic beard. We adore how Ahmed addressed the hate and ridicule faced by his character with a pleasant and friendly attitude.
Boba Fett - The Star Wars Holiday Special
Even though Boba Fett is a fictitious character in the Star Wars franchise, he greatly stands out due to his extraordinary appearance in Mandalorian armor, gauntlets, and helmet. His iconic outfit got so popular that it got printed on everything from t-shirts to lunch boxes ever since the release of The Empire Strikes Back. Yet, do you know the actor beneath this famous costume?
Well, Jeremy Bulloch is the talented artist who brought Boba Fett to life with his outstanding portrayal of the famed bounty hunter. He is a tall, slim man with short blonde hair and a warm smile.
The prolific star who breathed life into the celebrated character Boba Fett in the Star Wars franchise was Jeremy Bulloch. He frequently attended the Star Wars conventions and was greatly adored for his friendly demeanor and desire to interact with fans.
Besides his feat in the Star Wars movies, Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back, the actor boasted a thriving career with appearances in numerous films and television shows over the years. Jeremy also featured in three James Bond films and The Newcomers. Despite Boba Fett’s mysteriousness, Bulloch will forever be a beloved figure for all fans.
Palpatine - The Empire Strikes Back
This next character goes by several names in the Star Wars universe. Born Sheev Palpatine, he is also known as Darth Sidious or simply as the Emperor. With powers like levitation and telepathy, Palpatine is one of the Star Wars villains.
The character first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back and has since become one of the franchise’s main characters, gaining fans worldwide, with many choosing to wear his costume during Halloween. His coarse facial features and his color-changing eyes definitely make him scary.
When he is out of his costume, Ian McDiarmid is definitely not scary like his famous character. He landed this life-changing role after George Lucas cast him in Return of the Jedi. The Scottish actor played the role so well that he has been featured in several other productions of the Star Wars Universe.
Away from his character, Ian is a very handsome man, unlike his character, who is not usually pleasing to the eye. The star rocks his white hair confidently and often likes to compliment it with a pair of clear glasses with a dark frame.
Yoda - Return of the Jedi
We’ve all seen the small green alien-like creature with big wide eyes stretching out its hands across all social media. Well, that’s baby Yoda, but before him, there was the legendary Jedi master Yoda.
The character is usually tiny in size, but he is very wise and powerful and plays the role of training Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force. He first appeared in the franchise’s original trilogy as a mentor of Obi-Wan Kenobi. In addition, Yoda has a unique speech pattern that has made him very popular.
Unfortunately, no one can fit in the costume of the Grand Master of the Jedi High Council because Yoda is a puppet. Frank Oz has voiced, performed, and been the lead puppeteer for the character in almost all Star Wars, including The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Phantom Menace, and The Last Jedi.
Besides featuring in Star Wars, Frank loves directing films, with his latest project being 2011’s Leverage. Apart from Yoda, he has also performed in Sesame Street and The Muppet show as a puppeteer for characters like Grover and Miss Piggy.
Wicket – Return of the Jedi
Wicket became a popular character in the Star Wars franchise soon after its first appearance in 1983, followed by other television films and animated cartoons based on this fictional figure. It was a part of the Ewok species whose purpose was to participate in the Battle of Endor in alliance with the Rebel Alliance.
These creatures became extremely popular over the years, and soon a line of Wicket action figures got launched. Eventually, these diminutive beasts became a part of the lead characters as their popularity increased.
Wicket became a beloved fictional character after its introduction in the movie Return of the Jedi. This teddy-like creature wasn’t a work of CGI but got played by a person, and the face behind it is actor Warwick Davis.
Interestingly, it isn’t the only franchise movie he has starred in, and the audience may recognize him as Professor Filius Flitwick from Harry Potter. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Warwick has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. The artist has also played titular roles in motion pictures like the Willow and Leprechaun.
Darth Vader – Star Wars
If only Anakin Skywalker hadn’t turned to the dark side, we wouldn’t have an iconic evil character like Darth Vader. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he is one of the most dreaded villains in the fictional world of movies. He is the main antagonist of the Star Wars original trilogy, and this character developed its fan following.
Darth Vader is known for his different voice, the costume, and the most iconic feature is the face mask. The world of movies has seen several anti-heroes, but only a few remain, and Darth Vader is one of those.
It is no secret the man behind the mask of Darth Vader and the person lending his voice to this character are two different people. Many people recognize James Earl Jones as this fictional personality, but the man on our screens is David Charles Prowse.
Before this actor became a part of the Star Wars franchise, he had already established himself as a superhero movie material. David had appeared in a handful of roles in movies like The Clockwork Orange and Black Snake and was a known face in the United Kingdom.
R2D2 – The Last Jedi
Star Wars is one of the most famous and memorable movie franchises ever made. With an abundance of iconic dialogues and characters, this franchise sits at the top when it comes to classics. As we are speaking of characters, how can we forget the cute little robot R2D2?
The blue and white astromech droid plays an important role in all the movies he is featured in. From serving in battles to saving characters like Luke and Leia, he has done it all. This character created by George Lucas is definitely a highlight of the series.
If someone thought that the cute R2D2 was a real robot or a dummy operated by a remote, then be prepared to get surprised because our very own Artoo was nothing more than a costume. Now let’s reveal who actually was inside the costume.
It was a talented actor by the name of Kenny Baker who brought life to R2D2. He remained there for the original trilogy. In The Last Jedi, Baker was not a part of the franchise and Jimmy Vee filled his spot.
C3PO – Star Wars
Since we have mentioned R2D2 in this list, there is no way we can move forward without mentioning its companion, C3PO. This robot built for protocol and etiquette was a creation of the infamous Darth Vader.
The highlight of this robot is the good that’s inside it. While its creator eventually turned to the evil side, this droid remained true to good and always fought against evil. Being an important character in the movie franchise, C3PO can be seen in almost every key moment in the movies.
Just like its trusted friend R2D2, C3PO was also not a real robot, and the person who was behind the costume was the English actor Anthony Daniels. The actor portrayed the robotic vibe perfectly through his stiff body language and eccentric and quirky voice.
He remained the person behind C3PO throughout the franchise. Also, he was a part of the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. Surprisingly, the gold-plated droid was not in the movie, but Daniels made a cameo in a different role.
Maz Kanata – The Force Awakens
Out of all the characters in the Star Wars universe, Maz Kanata is definitely its busiest bug or, should we say, busiest humanoid alien. The over-thousand-year-old lady, who first appeared in The Force Awakens has lived as a pirate, a smuggler, and now an entrepreneur who runs a successful tavern in the far, far away chateau on the planet Takodana.
Of course, her real-life counterpart Lupita Nyong’o is nothing like her. To embody the outlandish freebooter, the Black Panther actress lent her unique voice and panache; then, her movements were incorporated with motion capture technology to create the CGI character.
Offbeat, wise, and motherly, Maz Kanata has all the doings of being one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. The extra-terrestrial humanoid spent over a thousand years pirating and smuggling, but now she’s finally laying low in her tavern, hosting intergalactic travelers at her keep.
Nevertheless, underneath that orange-tinted skin is the stunning Lupita Nyong’o, who debuted the role in The Force Awakens. The Black Panther leading lady shared her challenges of playing a CGI alien with all the make-up plus dotted costume created to calibrate her movements to that of the character.
Captain Phasma – The Last Jedi
Captain Phasma is not your average soldier —a glimpse of her badassery in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was enough to scare the lot of us. The first of its kind, she’s one of the female powers in a male-dominated galaxy who commands the first order of the scary stormtroopers.
Who better play such a hard-core veteran fighter than the woman who also played Game of Thrones, Brienne of Tarth, Gwendoline Christine? Although she’s hidden under metal armor throughout the film, the actress’s distinct voice and glorious presence make her a total standout.
Amongst the forces of white plastoid body armor, there stands a lone female fighter named Captain Phasma. Dabbed in a silver metal suit, this Star Wars character who made its debut in The Force Awakens, is the no-nonsense commander of the first order of stormtroopers. Yep, she’s pretty terrifying.
Yet, underneath that strong bravado lies an equally powerful actress, Gwendoline Christie, who rose to prominence playing Brienne of Tarth. The actress told Vanity Fair that since she’s always on a protective covering, she gained inspiration to experiment with her movements from her imposing costume to identify the character.
Supreme Leader Snoke - Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Supreme Leader Snoke was first introduced to the audience as the main antagonist in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This humanoid villain, the supreme leader of the First Order, was created by Emperor Palpatine and Sith Eternal with dark genetic experiments. Snoke was also seen in the second installment of the Star Wars trilogy, The Last Jedi, where he ultimately perishes.
The supreme leader tempts Kylo Ren to cross over to the dark side and becomes his master. Snoke meets his end at the hands of his apprentice, who decides to betray him to save Rey’s life.
In the Star Wars trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke was played by motion-capture artist Andy Serkis. Serkis is critically-acclaimed for his fantastic work and has portrayed numerous characters in blockbuster movies like Kong in the 2005 film King Kong, Gollum in the first Hobbit film and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, and Caesar in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes franchise.
The artist has earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Emmy nominations with his non-animated projects and was awarded the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Contribution To Cinema in 2020.
Chewbacca - Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
Chewbacca, fondly known as Chewie to his close friends, was one of the Wookiees, humanoid aliens from the planet of Kashyyyk. Chewie was the first mate as well as the co-pilot of Han Solo on his spaceship, Millennium Falcon, and accompanied him during dangerous missions to save the galaxy from the reign of the Galactic Empire. He was also known for his loyal nature and skilled use of laser crossbows called bowcaster.
Since 1977, Chewie has appeared in both the original and sequel trilogies under the Star Wars franchise, along with one movie from the prequel trilogy.
As David Prowse decided to go with the role of Darth Vader, director George Lucas’s hunt for another tall actor to play Chewbacca led him to Peter Mayhew. With his height of 7′ 3″, he became the perfect choice to play the giant and hairy Wookiee. The late actor prepared for the role by visiting primates and bears in a zoo and making notes of their mannerisms.
Due to his age and growing knee problems, Mayhew opted to drop the role after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which actor Joonas Suotamo took over.