For most bit-part actors in movies, you come in, say your line (or lines), and then you go home and forget about it. But most movies aren’t Star Wars and, if you’re in Star Wars, then you’re an automatic star to thousands, nay millions, of people around the globe.
So in anticipation of the next Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi (out IN EXACTLY ONE MONTH!), this is a celebration of those bit-part actors. They may not have been the main stars, they may not have walked away with all the plaudits and the big wage packets, but these are the turns that are just as important as your Luke Skywalkers and your Han Solos. And, as we discover, once your name is linked with Star Wars, people will always want your autograph…
Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter)
In an early, work-in-progress edit of Star Wars, the character of Biggs Darklighter, Luke’s mustachioed BFF on Tatooine, was significantly larger. In the eventual 1977 cut however the part was reduced to a few shots of Biggs in his X-Wing during the attack on the Death Star.
Despite this, actor Garrick Hagon is one of the most in-demand bit-part actors from the franchise and, at 78, is still acting, with a recent role in Netflix’s acclaimed royal drama, The Crown. You can check out his website here.
Richard LeParmentier (Admiral Motti)
Admiral Motti may have only been in Star Wars for two minutes but he gets one of the juiciest scenes in the entire movie.
“Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader,” he says, sternly. “Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels’ hidden fort-...”
His words are cut off mid-sentence when Darth Vader uses his Force power to choke the General from across the other side of the room.
Actor Richard LeParmentier was an American actor who worked primarily in Britain, and can be seen in many UK-shot blockbusters such as Octopussy, Superman II and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He went on to be a regular fixture at Star Wars autograph fayres before he died in 2013.
William Hootkins (Jek Porkins)
Porkins (such an apt name) only gets a few lines in A New Hope before he’s blown up, but he’s instantly memorable.
You can also spot the American-born, Brit-based actor Hootkins in Raiders of the Lost Ark (as one of the two Army Intelligence agents who approach Indy about recovering the Ark) and Batman (as the Joker’s man-on-the-inside, Lt Eckhardt). He died in 2005.
Paul Blake (Greedo)
We may not have seen Paul Blake’s face, or even heard his voice, but that hasn’t stopped him from travelling the world and doing personal appearances as the man who breathed life into bounty hunter Greedo in the first Star Wars.
In the original movie, he was shot dead in cold blood by Han Solo, but in the 1997 Special Edition, George Lucas controversially re-edited the scene so that Greedo shot first (he missed), before being shot by Han.
Paul Blake, who once said of Greedo, “[He’s] the most inept assassin in the Universe, the Steve Buscemi of assassins with Steve Martin overtones”, is these days equally as well known as the father of paralympian Paul Blake.
Denis Lawson (Wedge)
Although he appeared in all three Star Wars movies between 1977 and 1983, Denis Lawson’s character, Rebel fighter Wedge Antilles, wasn’t a huge presence.
In the years after Star Wars though, Lawson has become quite the star, and is now best known for his role as DI Steve McAndrew in BBC One's New Tricks. Lawson was even approached by JJ Abrams to return to Star Wars – again as Wedge – for The Force Awakens. He turned them down, saying "they asked me but it just would have bored me."
His nephew did however win a part in the Star Wars prequel trilogy in 1999, playing Obi-Wan Kenobi. We can’t seem to remember his name though…
Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna)
Remember Bib Fortuna? He was Jabba the Hutt’s majordomo in 1983’s Return of the Jedi and actor Michael Carter is, to this day, a stalwart of the sci-fi autograph scene. He’s still acting (when he’s not touring the world signing photos, that is), with roles recently in Rebus, Centurion and and the forthcoming series The Halcyon.
Peter Geddis (Captain Raymus Antilles)
He was one of the first faces ever seen in Star Wars, and uttered the lines, "We intercepted no transmissions. This is a consular ship.... We're on a diplomatic mission..." before his neck crumbled away at the hands of Darth Vader.
Amazingly, though you can buy his autograph online, Geddis has generally spurned the Star Wars celebrity circuit.
John Forgeham (Captain Bolvan)
Captain Bolvan was the character who, after the droids take the escape pod in the beginning of the first movie, orders for the gunner not to shoot it down. "Hold your fire,” he tells him. “There's no life forms. It must have short-circuited."
We may not have been able to see actor John Forgeham’s face, but he’s one of the most important characters in Star Wars because, had he actually done his job properly, R2-D2 wouldn’t have delivered the plans, Luke Skywalker wouldn’t have left Tatooine, the Death Star wouldn’t have been destroyed and the Empire would have ruled the galaxy forever.
Though we couldn’t see Forgeham’s face, he went onto become a well-known actor on British television now, and is probably best known for playing businessman Frank Laslett in the ITV series Footballers' Wives. He died last March from a fall at his home.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits Cineworld on 14th December.