When George Lucas was casting for ‘Star Wars’ he auditioned nearly every up-and-coming starlet in Hollywood.
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Kurt Russell, Sissy Spacek, all passed through his audition room before he eventually plumped for Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and a carpenter named Harrison Ford.
Those actors went on to achieve superstardom thanks to Lucas, but they weren’t the only icons to feature in the ‘Star Wars’ films.
Here’s some thespians you never realised journeyed to that galaxy far, far away.
‘Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace’
Keira Knightley – Sabé
Before she shot to fame in ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ Keira Knightley had a minor role in ‘Phantom Menace’. She plays Amidala’s decoy Sabe, who is outed as a double to Natalie Portman’s character when meeting with Boss Nass.
Celia Imrie – Bravo 5
A stalwart of British film and television, Celia Imrie is fondly remembered for her appearances opposite Victoria Wood in shows like ‘Dinnerladies’ and ‘Acorn Antiques’. She played a Naboo pilot in ‘Phantom Menace’, the first female fighter pilot seen on-screen in the ‘Star Wars’ films.
Dominic West – Palace Guard
Before he was Detective Jimmy McNulty in ‘The Wire’, Dominic West played another law enforcer of sorts in ‘Phantom Menace’. He played a Palace Guard on Naboo, but you have to be sharp to spot him.
Sofia Coppola – Saché
She’s more commonly-known as a film director nowadays, but did you spot her in ‘Episode I’? Her father Francis is a good friend of George Lucas, so when she visited the set, Lucas found her a costume and popped her into a scene as one of Padme’s handmaidens.
Peter Serafinowicz – Darth Maul (voice)
The actor/comedian lent his sultry tones to the tattooed Sith in ‘Phantom Menace’ around the same time he was appearing in Edgar Wright’s sitcom ‘Spaced’ opposite Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He only had a few lines and says it was one of the worst-paying jobs he’d ever done.
Richard Armitage – Naboo Fighter Pilot
You’ll know him from TV’s ‘Spooks’ or as Thorin, the warrior dwarf in ‘The Hobbit’ films, but you may not have realised he was in ‘Star Wars’ too. He played a nondescript fighter pilot in ‘Phantom Menace’ in one of his first screen roles.
Ralph Brown – Ric Olle
He played Danny, the Camberwell Carrot-rolling drug dealer in ‘Withnail and I’ along with countless TV and film roles over the years, but you can also see him as Naboo military man in ‘Episode I’.
‘Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones’
Rose Byrne – Dormé
Keira Knightley isn’t the only megastar to play handmaiden to Natalie Portman’s Padme. In ‘Episode II’, Aussie actress Rose Byrne of ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Bad Neighbours’ fame, played loyal servant Dorme in a few early scenes.
Joel Edgerton – Owen Lars
Principal photography for ‘Episodes II & III’ took place in Australia, so it’s no surprise that it’s packed with upcoming Antipodean stars like Edgerton. He plays Luke’s future adoptive parent Uncle Owen, but is now better known for his roles in ‘Warrior’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’.
‘Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith’
Bai Ling – Senator Bana Breemu
Although most of her scenes were cut from ‘Episode III’ (some say Lucas excised her from the film after she posed nude in Playboy), you can still see the Chinese-American star on the Blu-ray extras. You may recognise her from the crazy Jason Statham action sequel ‘Crank: High Voltage’.
'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope'
Jack Purvis - Chief Jawa/Chief Ugnaught/Teebo
Best known as Wally in ‘Time Bandits’ and Gustavus in ’The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’, the diminutive actor actually made his film debut in ’Star Wars’ as the Chief Jawa, hidden under a costume. He also returned to play different roles in ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’.
'Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back'
Julian Glover – General Veers
You’ll instantly recognise veteran actor Julian Glover as the bumbling Grand Maester Pycelle in HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, but did you know he also played the imperial commander who leads the raid on Hoth at the beginning of ‘Empire Strikes Back’?
Michael Sheard – Admiral Ozzel
Sheard struck fear into the hearts of children across the country playing the tyrannical Mr Bronson in ‘Grange Hill’ between 1985-1989 and he also played Admiral Ozzel, the imperial leader force-choked by Vader for alerting the rebels to their presence on Hoth.
Deep Roy – Yoda/Droopy McCool
Indian actor Deep Roy was drafted in to play Yoda in an uncredited role for the wide shots which show the ancient Jedi master walking. He also played Droopy McCool in ‘Return of the Jedi’, but you’ll probably know him best for playing ALL the Oompa Loompas in Tim Burton’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.
Christopher Malcolm – Rogue 2
Instantly identifiable as Justin, the gay American father of Saffron in sitcom ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Christopher Malcolm can also be spotted under the distinctive rebel helmet of Rogue 2.
Read more: The Daft Extras Who Nearly Ruined Their Films
John Ratzenberger – Major Derlin
Everyone knows him as Cliff from ‘Cheers’ and kids will recognise his voice from Pixar films (he’s the studio’s mascot, appearing in all their films), but you may not have spotted him playing a rebel commander on the Hoth base.
‘Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi’
Tony Cox – Ewok
George Lucas employed countless small actors to fulfill the huge cast of Ewoks required for the film’s climactic scene, including Tony Cox who is probably best-known as Marcus the foul-mouthed dwarf in ‘Bad Santa’.
Image credit: 20th Century Fox/Getty/Press Association/Rex