The release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens gave fans another installment of the beloved sci-fi story, as well as a nostalgic glimpse at old, favorite characters later in life. This round up of the original Star Wars actors then and now shows us just how much time flew between A New Hope and The Force Awakens.
Original Star Wars Cast, Then And Now
Mark Hamill - Luke Skywalker
At the top of the list of Star Wars actors then and now is Mark Hamill, the original hero himself. In the beginning of his acting career, Mark Hamill had some minor roles on shows like General Hospital, The Cosby Show, The Partridge Family and multiple television films before landing the iconic role of Luke Skywalker. His part in the first three Star Wars films permanently marked him as a cultural icon.
Mark Hamill Career After Star Wars
Attempting to distance himself somewhat from his Skywalker image, he appeared in films such as Corvette Summer and The Big Red One. He also did some work on Broadway, starring in plays such as Elephant Man, Amadeus, Harrigan 'N Hart, and Room Service.
Hamill later returned to film industry as both a live action actor and voice-over actor. He even directed a straight-toDVD movie called Comic Book: The Movie. He's since become particularly well known for his voice work as the Joker in the Batman animated series, among other roles.
Luke Skywalker In Episode VIII
Older Luke Skywalker had a small cameo toward the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, he is set to return for a bigger role in the next movie, Star Wars Episode VIII.
Carrie Fisher - Princess Leia
Carrie Fisher Early Life
The daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, it seemed fate that young Carrie Fisher would grow up to be a star. Born in Beverly Hills, her parents divorced when she was two (her father left her mother for her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor). Fisher attended the London Central School of Speech and Drama for 18 months before starring in the comedy Shampoo in 1985 along with Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn.
Carrie Fisher Acting Career
After gaining popularity as the female lead of the original Star Wars characters in A New Hope and becoming full-fledged cultural icon in the gold bikini in Return Of The Jedi, Fisher went on to appear in films such as The Man With One Red Shoe and Woody Allen's Hannah And Her Sisters (1986). She's continued acting throughout her life, most recently appearing in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, reprising the role which made her famous, Princess Leia.
Carrie Fisher Writing Career
In addition to acting, Fisher has also maintained a prolific career as a writer. She published her first novel, Postcards From The Edge, in 1987, which she later adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep in 1990. She's also become a well-regarded script doctor in Hollywood, chosen by George Lucas himself to fix the scripts for his 1992 film series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Harrison Ford - Han Solo
Harrison Ford first worked with George Lucas when he played the role of Bob Falfa in American Graffiti (1973). It was from this connection that Lucas hired him to read lines with actors auditioning for parts in Star Wars. From those readings, Lucas was taken with Ford's talent and hired him to play Han Solo, the role which propelled him into super stardom and became a cultural icon. To this day, Harrison remains a fan favorite of the Star Wars actors, then and now.
Working again with George Lucas and adding Steven Spielberg to the team, Ford went on to star in the Indiana Jones movies, starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981. He's starred in all four existing Indiana Jones films, and is set to star in the fifth film, due for release in July 2019.
Pilot Harrison Ford
Ford doesn't only play a pilot in Star Wars; he actually is one. He first started flight training in the 1960s, but was unable to afford to continue training. After solidifying his career as an actor, he again continued training throughout the 1990s. Today, he appears in internet ads for the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association, and has his own plane.
Anthony Daniels - C3PO
Daniels And The Star Wars Franchise
Originally from Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, Daniels originally studied law before deciding to pursue acting full time. Although admittedly never a sci-fi fan, he gained prominence for his portrayal of the golden robot C3PO in all the Star Wars films and much of the related promotional work.
For the first three films, Daniels acted inside the golden robot costume. In Episode I: The Phantom Menace, he wore a blue spandex suit that was later updated with CGI. He appeared again in Attack Of The Clones, and as a voice-over for a CGI C3PO in Revenge Of The Sith. For The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams initially planned to have Daniels do another voice-over role, but ultimately decided to have him appear on camera in an updated and modified robot costume that gave him a much greater range of mobility than the first version. Daniels is slated to appear as C3PO in both the upcoming Star Wars films in 2017 and 2019.
Kenny Baker - R2D2
Kenny Baker Early Career
Kenny Baker got his first taste of show business in 1951 when he was approached on the street in Hastings, Sussex, England by a woman that asked him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. He spent a brief time in the circus, and then as an ice dancer. He formed a successful comedy act called the Minitones along with Jack Purvis when George Lucas offered him the role of R2D2 in 1976. He's appeared in the first six Star Wars films as R2D2, and an additional role as Paploo, the Ewok that rides off on an Imperial speeder bike. He acted as a consultant on The Force Awakens. Although he won't be appearing in Episode VIII, Baker remains nonetheless a key Star Wars actor, then and now.
Kenny Baker Later Career
Baker went on to a brief stand-up comedy career, as well as films The Elephant Man, Time Bandits, Flash Gordon, Amadeus and the BBC production of The Chronicles Of Narnia. Writer Ken Mills penned a biography about Baker entitled From Tiny Acorns: The Kenny Baker Story in 2009.
Peter Mayhew - Chewbacca
Peter Mayhew Early Life
Born in South West London in 1944, Mayhew has always had a connective tissue disorder known as Marfan's syndrome, which made him grow to 7'3 at his tallest point. He started acting in 1976 with the role of the minotaur in Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger.
George Lucas originally planned on offering the role of Chewbacca to David Prowse, who stands at 6'6, but decided to cast Prowse as Darth Vadar instead. Lucas went on a search to find a sufficiently tall actor to wear the Chewbacca suit, and found Mayhew working as a hospital orderly in London. Mayhew has appeared as Chewie in five of the Star Wars films: the original trilogy, Revenge Of The Sith, and The Force Awakens.
Peter Mayhew Writing Career
Beyond his many public appearances as Chewbacca, Mayhew has written two children books. Growing Up Giant teaches young audiences that being different is a strength, and My Favorite Giant has an anti-bullying message.
James Earl Jones - Darth Vadar (Voice)
Why James Earl Jones Joined Star Wars
Already a distinguished and successful actor, James Earl Jones did not join the cast of A New Hope until filming had already finished. The character of Darth Vadar, portrayed on-screen by body-builder David Prowse was initial voiced by Prowse himself. However, Lucas decided that Prowse's accent was not the right fit for the character. Jones asked not to be credited in the first two films, although he does receive credit on the 1997 special edition release. In 2008, Jones told News Day:
"When Linda Blair did the girl in The Exorcist, they hired Mercedes McCambridge to do the voice of the devil coming out of her. And there was controversy as to whether Mercedes should get credit. I was one who thought no, she was just special effects. So when it came to Darth Vader, I said, no, I'm just special effects. But it became so identified that by the third one, I thought, OK I'll let them put my name on it."
Other Credits From James Earl Jones
Aside from being one of the original Star Wars characters, one of Jones's best known roles was another voice over part: Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King. He has received Tony awards for his stage work in The Great White Hope and Fences, and earned a reputation as a remarkable Shakespeare actor in productions of Othello, King Lear and Hamlet, among others. Nominated 7 times, he won an Emmy in 1990 for his role as Junius Jackson in Heat Wave, and he's received numerous other nominations and awards, making him won of the most respected actors in Hollywood.
David Prowse - Darth Vadar (Body)
Feud Between Prowse And George Lucas
David Prowse represents what is perhaps the biggest difference in the Star Wars cast, then and now. Although he still does public appearances and autograph signings for fans Prowse has distanced himself from the Star Wars franchise and George Lucas in particular. Although he was never intended to provide the voice for Darth Vadar throughout the first trilogy, he maintains that he was supposed to provide the final lines in Return Of The Jedi, but was replaced by Sebastian Shaw.
The Green Cross Code Man
Rather than ultimate villain, Prowse is perhaps better known in the UK for his work as the Green Cross Code Man, a superhero character that led a British road safety campaign for youngsters in the '70s. Today, the 80-year-old Prowse declares that this was the highlight of his career.
Check out the Star Wars actors, then and now, in these clips from A New Hope and The Force Awakens.
A New Hope
The Force Awakens (Trailer)
Who is your favorite of the original star wars actors?