Following the big announcement that a huge chunk of the original 1970s cast of Star Wars would be returning for Episode VII, we've decided to check out what they've been up to all these years. Some - well one - became an international superstar while others may have got religion, got drunk, or simply drifted into the convention circuit never to be seen again. Until now that is.
Harrison Ford, who needs no introduction, is one of the Hollywood's biggest success stories. He was cast as Han Solo in Star Wars while working as a carpenter on the Fox lot. Asked to step in and read for an absent actor, the story goes that Ford had the whole crew laughing with his wit and charm: the rest is history. From Indiana Jones to Blade Runner to The Fugitive; Ford has become a household name.
But what happened to the rest of the cast?
KENNY BAKER - R2D2/ Paploo
So let's start at the bottom and work our way up, in terms of height I mean. R2-D2 was played by British Actor and comedian Kenny Baker.
Spotted by Lucas while doing a stage comedy called Minitones, he was cast into the role of the brave little droid. However, Baker in fact played another role in Return of the Jedi, which was the Ewok Paploo, who steals the storm troopers speeder bike.
Baker later claimed that he and Anthony Daniels (C3PO) never really got along, stating that Daniels was 'rude to everyone'; including fans. Technically, he has never left the Star Wars family, as himself and Anthony Daniels have reprized their roles in all six movies. In between Star Wars, Baker has appeared in Time Bandits, Amadeus and 24 Hour Party People. He regularly attends conventions and offers signed memorabilia on his personal website. He, like the rest of the cast, has never managed to escape Star Wars fame.
CARRIE FISHER - Princess Leia Organa
Carrie Fisher has maintained a relatively low profile since Star Wars. She became an international sex symbol and pin up girl when she donned one of the most iconic costumes ever. She claimed in numerous interviews that she didn't realize the effect that her Jabba slave costume would have on the world...
... understandable I suppose.
Her acting career was certainly not as prolific as say, Fords, however she did appear in a few films throughout the eighties; When Harry Met Sally and The Burbs with Tom Hanks. But it was writing that seemed to become Fisher's main occupation having published three bestsellers, one of which, Postcards from the Edge, became a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. The story deals with a mother and daughter who are both actors, a subject very close to Fisher. In fact, Carrie herself adapted the screenplay.
She was widely regarded as one of the best script-doctors in Hollywood for many years, doing re-writes on productions such as Sister Act, The Wedding Singer and The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles for George Lucas. Most recently she has received theatrical acclaim for her one woman show Wishful Drinking, an autobiographical piece which deals with growing up with two actor parents, her father's betrayal of his mother to actress Elizabeth Taylor and her own alcoholism. Fisher, like most of the Star Wars cast, regularly shows up in cameo parts related to her Leia character. She also enjoys satirizing her public life, appearing in 30 Rock as an alcoholic screenwriter exaggerating how the media had portrayed her for many years.
MARK HAMILL - Luke Skywalker
Mark Hamill's live action movie career slowed down after Return of the Jedi. He appeared in a number of films, such as The Big Red One and The Night the Lights Went Out On Georgia, but found it hard to lose the typecast stigma that comes with a character like Luke Skywalker. He began doing stage work and starred in a production of The Elephant Man along with numerous other productions but it wasn't until 1992 that Hamill found his other great talent when he became the voice of 'The Joker' in Batman: The Animated Series.
Having done some small amounts of voice acting before, he had some experience, however he was in fact auditioning for a small cameo part on the show when he was offered Joker. He has since voiced many characters from both DC and Marvel Universes including, Hobgoblin in Spiderman and Gargoyle in The Incredible Hulk. However Hamill is considered by most to be the quintessential Joker, having voiced the character in over five incarnations: most recently in Batman: Arkham City, a video game adaptation.
Check out this link of Mark Hamill performing this Batman eulogy live as 'The Joker':
Hamill, like most of the cast, has cameo-ed his Star Wars character over the years, having appeared in Family Guy and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. He continues to voice Luke Skywalker in animated versions of Star Wars and has recently finished a live action film with fellow seventies stars James Cann and Talia Shire. The film, Minkow, is a Wall Street corruption film based on the true story of Barry Minkow, to be released later this year.
ANTHONY DANIELS - C3PO
Getting taller, Anthony Daniels who has been the iconic C3PO for six movies, will also be returning for the seventh installment. Of all the cast it would seem that Daniels has not tried to shake the fame of the blockbuster. He has appeared as C3PO in various incarnations such as The Muppets Show, Seasame Street and even a Kellogs commercial. Check it out below:
On three occasions Daniels has voiced the character on a radio production of Star Wars. On his website you can read various journalistic pieces and anecdotes about his experience on the movies. Daniels appears to be in this one for the long haul. He has found a job he loves and wishes to do it for the rest of his life, though a self proclaimed non-fan of the sci-fi genre.
Check out this link to hear some of his yarns from the good old days:
PETER MAYHEW - Chewbacca
So now we get to the tallest, old Chewbacca, Chewie, the Wookie you shouldn't upset. The actor inside the fluffy costume was Peter Mayhew.
There was a chance that the actor who played Darth Vader, David Prowse, could've ended up playing Chewbacca instead. Prowse was given the option but decided he wanted Darth, stating to George Lucas that 'everyone remembers the villain'. Enter, Peter Mayhew, who began life as an orderly at a London hospital. He was then picked in a street-cast for Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger which subsequently led to Star Wars. After Return of the Jedi, Mayhew lived a quiet life for fourteen years or so, appearing in a number of commercials as Chewie but not much else. When the Star Wars trilogy was re-released and remastered, he discovered that he was in great demand on the Sci-fi convention circuit and began making appearances worldwide to loving fans. During this time he made many commercials as Chewbacca including British company Currys/PC World.
Finally he presented George Lucas with his AFI Lifetime achievement award as Chewie. Since then the costume has lain dormant: until now. Chewie made a public appearance recently to try and mend the bridges with himself and Han Solo. Solo was not to receptive.
With the return of Star Wars, all of the cast mentioned in this article will be reprising their roles.
The cast in height:
So folks which cast member are you most excited to see return?