19 sneaky actor cameos found in The Force Awakens

Dec 1, 2018
James Bond cameo in The Force Awakens

19 cameos in The Force Awakens


The Star Wars films are no strangers to featuring cameo roles. Richard Marquand, the director of Return of the Jedi snuck his voice in on a robot, George Lucas and several of his children could be seen in the prequel films and Treat Williams had a quick turn as a Stormtrooper in the Hoth scenes in Empire. You get the gist!

The Force Awakens features plenty of cameos, both transparent and wholly hidden from the viewer in plain site. J

J Abram's is well known for his use of cameos and putting Easter egg like references in his films so why not for TFA?

Here's the list of cameos that we've found thus far:
  • Let's start with what we think is the biggest cameo. Both Ewan Macgregor and Alec Guiness each feature in the same single line that can be heard during Rey's encounter with Luke's lightsaber. Alec does the 'Rey' part and Macgregor does the 'there are your first steps'. Here's how they managed this trick.
  • The second one is what we consider the coolest cameo ever in the Star Wars films. Daniel Craig who is better known to a gabillion movie fans as James Bond was the Stormtrooper that fell under Rey's spell when she tried her Jedi mind trick on him to request her release. It's a very funny and quotable exchange between the two.
  • JJ Abram cast his good friend Greg Grunberg in the film as Snap Wexley. He had a line at the resistance base and featured in the X-wing attack on the Star Killer Base. Grunberg did a cameo for JJ in the first episode of the TV show Lost as the pilot of the plane that crashed and had a quick turn in Mission Impossible III. He's of course best known for his role in Heroes
  • JJ cast his father Gerry in a very small cameo as Captain Cypress. Gerry has played bit parts in several of JJ's productions.
  • The doctor that tends to Chewbacca's arm wound would have been well known to British Star Wars fans as she was played by Dame Harriet Walter, a renowned stage and screen actress. Her character was called Dr. Kalonia. There's a nice piece of symmetry here in that her uncle was Christoper Lee who played Count Dooku in two Star Wars films.
  • Simon Pegg plays Unkar Plutt. You wouldn't know it by looking at him or even listening to him! Pegg previously played a role in JJ Abram's Mission Impossible film and formed such a strong working relationship that JJ cast him as Scottie in the Star Trek movies. 
  • Do you remember the Ewok known as Wicket? Famously played by a very young Warwick Davis, he returns as an alien called Wollivan that can be spied having a drink at Maz Kanata's bar. Davis charmed Lucas so much that he later featured in Lucas' Willow film. He also had a wee cameo in The Phantom Menace as well!
  • Nigel Godrich, a well known music producer famous for his work with the band Radiohead, had a quick turn as a Stormtrooper. He Stormtrooper number is FN-9330.
  • Yoda puppeter Frank Oz (and the voice of Miss Piggy!) recorded new lines of dialog for the flashback sequence but ultimately pre-recorded Yoda material was used. 
  • Billie Lourd, who is Carrie Fisher's daughter was seen wearing Princess Leia style buns as Lieutenant Connix.
  • JJ Abrams has a long term working relationship with music composer Michael Giacchino. Given that John Williams has a firm hand on the teller when it comes to creating Star Wars music, Giacchino had to make do donning a Stormtrooper suit as FN-3181. He's the trooper who puts the captured Poe Dameron before Kylo Ren at the film's start.
  • Judah Friedlander can be briefly spied as a bar patron at Maz's Castle. 
  • If you think back to the Han solo frieghter scene, Kanjaklub leader Tasu Leech is played by Yayan Ruhian, and Iko Uwais plays Razoo Quin-Fee. They are well known for their athletic roles in the two Raid films.
  • There's a strong run of actors who performed roles in the Game of Thrones, this is because the casting director for that show also did the casting for The Force Awakens. Gwendoline Christie is the major player as Captain Phasma but did you spot Thomas Brodie-Sangster of The Maze Runner and Game of Thrones plays a First Order officer. Jessica Henwick who was featured in season 6 of Game of Thrones played X-Wing pilot Jess Testor. Mark Stanley was a Knight of Ren. Miltos Yerolemou who played Arya’s doomed fencing instructor Syrio Forel, is a bar fly in Maz Kanata’s bar and Emun Elliott had a crack as well as an X-wing pilot.
  • Morgan Dameron who's last name was part of the inspiration for the name of Poe Dameron's character has a turn as a Resistance officer named Commodore Meta. That's a pretty clever in joke!

Gina Carano cast in The Mandalorian

Nov 14, 2018
MMA athlete turned Dead Pool actress Gina Carano has been cast in The Mandalorian in an unknown role. 


 
Arguably most well known in Hollywood for playing the villain Angel Dust in the first Deadpool film, Carano is well and truly stepping into the big leagues for this Star Wars show.

No word yet on what role but given her modus operandi appears to be to play action based characters, it's quite possible she be a Mandalorian alongside, Pedro Pascal.

angel dust deadpool

Pedro Pascal is The Mandalorian

Nov 13, 2018
mandalorian pedro pascal

You'll probably know him as the guy from Game of Thrones who died at the hands of The Mountain after an epic fight, but many more will now know Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian.

Variety Magazine has reported that Pascal has taken the title role in the Jon Favreau written and produced show. It has been rumored a fair bit that he had the role. Hard to keep a good secret in Hollywood?





11 of Star Wars strangest moments

Nov 11, 2018
seen concept design rogue one

11 strange moments in the Star Wars films


Star Wars has always been able to take itself not too seriously. 

If C3PO and R2 aren't arguing like an old married couple, Leia was sassing Luke for being a little bit short. 

So here are a few of the strange, odd and wonderful quirks of Star Wars:
  1. Han Solo grabs Princess Leia’s breasts in the middle of the Battle of Endor. He was perhaps checking she was still wearing this. Harrison Ford also pulled a similar movie on the Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. The scoundrel...
  2. When Jango Fett gets into his ship after his fight with Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, he bangs his head on the open door. This was intentional and is a reference to a famous goof from the original movie where a cloned Stormtrooper accidentally bangs his head on a door (the clone being the descendant of Jango Fett and having inherited this character trait).
  3. The Holiday Special. What about that Space Porn Simulation eh? Oddly, things from the Special have influenced films such as Solo and The Mandalorian show! In Solo, Chewbacca's father's name is Attichitcuk, as it was in the Special. 
  4. Why in Jedi does Old Ben say, that boy is our last hope when he already knows that Leia is his brother and then Yoda has to spell it out to him? 
  5. When E.T. turns up in the Phantom Menace!
  6. When we learned that R2D2 could fly in Revenge of the Sith. What the heck?? That little trick could have been handy many times!
  7. When during the Battle of Hoth, the Rebels decided to flee the planet by flying directly into the path of the Imperial Fleet and Vader. Why do this when they could have gone off in any direction and they could have all split up? Weird battle strategy! Extra fun fact: The line 'the first transport is away!" was spoken by Mark Hamill.
  8. Darth Vader's black suit was actually inspired by Nazi uniforms.
  9. This strange thing nearly happened. The original Rogue squad had a giant green alien called Senna and a Lunka. They were paired as a duo but ultimately dropped - they did get as far as being designed - see the above concept art!
  10. In A New Hope, Leia was kept captive on the Death Star in prison cell number 2187. This was a deliberate choice as 2187 is the year that the George Lucas directed cult film THX 1138, was set.
  11. Yoda’s species has never been mentioned. In official records, he is simply an ‘unknown species’. He'll always be Kermit's ugly cousin to us.

The legend, the myth and the balls of Admiral Gial Ackbar

Admiral Ackbar in the Battle of Endor

Facts about Admiral Ackbar


Probably the most popular character in the history of movies that looks like a giant gold fish, Admiral Ackbar was one of the heroes in the Battle of Endor, commanding Rebel fleet with enough resolve to give the Millennium Falcon enough time to carry out it's mission.

But who is this character? Where did he come from and what kind of stuff is he made from?






Origin of the character in Return of the Jedi pre-production


During a production meeting where George Lucas, film Director Richard Marquand, and others players had divided up their coterie of aliens between foreground and background creatures, Lucas offered Marquand the chance to create a legend:

“George suddenly said to me, ‘Who’s going to play Admiral Ackbar? I just decided he should be a creature, so you can pick out Admiral Ackbar.’ I said, ‘George, I think this should be your decision. He’s one of your new characters here.’

And he said, ‘No, you choose.’”

Marquand then determined to choose "the most delicious, wonderful creature out of the whole lot, this great big wonderful Calamari man with a red face and eyes on the side.”

It was a painting by concept artist Nilo Rodis-Jamero.

According to Marquand, “One or two people around the table, who shall be nameless, said they thought it was a terrible idea: ‘People are just going to laugh when they see this guy.’”

admiral ackbar concept design by artist Nilo Rodis-Jamero
It's a piece of concept art!

So what species of creature is Ackbar?


He is a Mon Calamari a sentient species indigenous to the world of Dac. Many fans simply refer to the Mon Calamari as Calamari.

They are humanoid in shape and form and stand about 1.7m tall.

They are most commonly seen with salmon-coloured skin tones. Rogue One's Admiral Raddus was a blue grey colour because he came from a cooler climate than Ackbar.

What is Ackbar’s backstory? How did he join the Rebel Alliance?

The expanded Star Wars universe has come to the party and backfilled the origin of Ackbar. The short version is Mon Calamari was attacked by the Galactic Empire and Ackbar was forced to act as an interpreter for Grand Moff Tarkin.

He was freed from captivity during a failed attempt by Rebel forces to capture Tarkin.

He joined the Rebel Alliance and helped convince his species to support the cause, playing an integral part in persuading his people to contribute their fleet of starships to the Rebel Alliance. Ackbar then built his way up in the Rebel Alliance to the point that he was seen as an Admiral in Jedi. 


What kind of stuff is Ackbar made from?


In Return of the Jedi Ackbar senses that the Rebel forces are overrun and he signals a retreat which seems like a pussy thing to be doing at time like that but he was able to be convinced by Lando Calrissian to stick it out a little longer.

He then set to work and managed the fleet er admirably well showing a clear head for battle conditions.

Kirk Thatcher with various Ackbars and Calamari friends

What is the origin of the quote "It's a trap"?


Everyone knows that Ackbar's phrase "It's a trap!" has became almost more famous that Ackbar himself. But that was not the original line in Kasdan's script for Jedi. The actual words were, "It's a trick!"

During post production it was felt the line didn't quite have the desired effect. The change is now the stuff of Star Wars and film making legend.



What is his full name? Where does Gial come from?


The first name of Ackbar's character, Gial, was not formal published until the 2012 release of the Star Wars reference book The Essential Guide to Warfare, some 28 years after Ackbar first appeared on the silver screen!

Such was Ackbar's enduring popularity, he was brought back for a small role in The Force Awakens as a military advisor to Princess Leia. And then he was sadly killed off in The Last Jedi!

Ronald Moore was helping Lucas develop a live action Star Wars television show

tricia helfer undressing
No idea why Tricia Helfer is here.
It's probably no surprise to anyone that George Lucas was trying to put together a live action television show for Star Wars prior to the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney.

What you may not know is that he had one of television's great content makers working on it, Ronald D Moore.

He first made his name on Star Trek: Next Generation and then made himself a piece of history with his revised Battlestar Galactica series.

He recently spoke publicly on his involvement:

"I did, for a bit of time, work on what was going to be a Star Wars live-action series. We’d go gather at Skywalker Ranch periodically, every couple of months, and break stories and write scripts for this proposed series that George was interested in. And George was in the ring with us every day. And it was a fascinating, amazing experience.

There was George Lucas and we’d be arguing stories and there was a point where I found myself in an intense argument with George about what Darth Vader would or would not do, and part of my brain kind of went, ‘What the hell are you doing? Are you really going to argue with George Lucas about what Darth Vader would do?"

How cool would it have been to have some Star Wars scripts from Moore on the screen? Let's hope a live action Star Wars show eventually does happen. It could be an amazing thing if done right. Let's at it Disney!

-

Update, it looks like this concept is happening. First up, The Mandalorian is being directed by Jon Favreau and Cassian Andors is to have his own show! We wonder if anything Moore worked on made it through?

George Lucas' Beverly Hills Cop III movie Cameo

george lucas beverly hills cop 3 cameo

We'd heard of it, but never believed it until we saw it with our own eyes. George Lucas did a cameo in Beverly Hills Cop III.

Not one. 

Not two (the best)

But three. 

What gives George?

Check the video:

Live action series featuring Cassian Andor announced!

Nov 8, 2018
live action stat wars cassian andors

Diego Luna is set to play Captain Cassian Andor in a second live-action Star Wars television show. 



If The Mandalorian wasn't enough good news, this new show will, of course, be set before the events of Rogue One

Here's the official word from Lucasfilm:

'Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced today that Lucasfilm is in development on a second Star Wars live-action series for Disney+, the Company’s new direct-to-consumer streaming service. The series, which will go into production next year, follows the adventures of rebel spy Cassian Andor during the formative years of the Rebellion and prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. 

Diego Luna will reprise the role of Andor. “Going back to the Star Wars universe is very special for me,” said Luna. “I have so many memories of the great work we did together and the relationships I made throughout the journey. We have a fantastic adventure ahead of us, and this new exciting format will give us the chance to explore this character more deeply.”

The rousing spy thriller will explore tales filled with espionage and daring missions to restore hope to a galaxy in the grip of a ruthless Empire. A release date for the series has not yet been announced.'

No word on the name of the show yet. Dare we hope to see K-2SO feature as well?

The Coppola Connection to Star Wars

Nov 3, 2018
francis ford coppola star wars


The story of how George Lucas came up in the world of filmmaking is the stuff of legend.

It's not simply a tail of writing what would become an Oscar-nominated script and it getting picked up by a studio.

It's a tale of hard work and a happy co-existence with supportive and like-minded friends who banded together to make movies.

A key person who helped lay the land for George Lucas to make movies was the determined Francis Ford Coppola. By the time Lucas met Francis in the late 1960's, Coppola was well established as busy film maker.

Lucas first worked for Coppola on the 1969 film, The Rain People and this led to a lifelong friendship between the two.

Determined filmmakers on the rise, the Coppola Connection to Star Wars began in earnest when Coppola produced Lucas' first film THX 1138. It proved to be a cult hit over time (especially when reconsidered after Star Wars blew up) laid the foundation for Luca's path to Star Wars.

Before that happened, Lucas directed American Graffiti which was again produced by Coppola.

And then there is Apocalypse Now.

The making of Apocalypse Now is perhaps almost as legendary as the movie itself but that's a tale told elsewhere. The key thing here is that Lucas was involved in helping John Milius develop his idea for the film with the intention of directing it. History shows things went the other way where Copolla directed it himself, leaving Lucas to focus on Star Wars.

It's important to understand the influence Apocalypse Now had on George Lucas. This film was about the Vietnam War, of which Lucas did not support. What George did was carry over the concept and in many ways. Star Wars is an allegory for the Vietnam War, with the Rebels being represented by the Viet Cong and the Evil Empire, America.

george lucas francis coppola


Here's some other Coppola Connections to Star Wars


  • By the time Hayden Christensen was cast in Attack of the Clones, it is arguable that he was probably most well known for his part in director Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides. Sofia, of course, being Francis' daughter.
  • Apocalypse Now is notable for Harrison Ford having a short role at the beginning of the film as Colonel Lucas, so named for George.
  • Lucas has said that he put some of Franci's 'swagger' into the character of Han Solo
  • Coppola's son Gian-Carlo was name-checked in The Phantom Menace for the Naboo vehicle called the Gian Speeder.
  • George Lucas did second unit directing on The Godfather
  • Sofia did a cameo role as Padme's handmaiden Saché in The Phantom Menace:

sofia coppola phantom menace

Star Wars was a commentary on the Vietnam War

Oct 28, 2018
Harrison Ford in Apocalypse Now

Ewoks.

Cute and furry. 

or

Feisty and ferocious?

In Return of the Jedi the Ewok are introduced for the first time and they end up being heroes, helping to defeat the Empire. 

George Lucas has been quoted as saying he "needed to come up with a primitive creature that was still using sticks and stones and spears--or weapons--and that lived in a primitive society that would be forced to take on the highly technological Empire."

His original idea of using Wookies just wasn't going to match his plot point idea so Ewoks it was. 

The official Star Wars site says of the Ewoks:

"In our own history, the origins of the Ewoks can be found in the Vietnam War (1955 – 1975). In that confrontation during the Cold War, the guerrilla Vietcong warriors were a constant threat to the anti-communist soldiers because they knew every inch of the jungles they called home."

No stranger to making films that feature broader political themes (refer THX-1138 and his short films), Lucas also used the Ewoks as a metaphor for the Viet Cong who fought the US government's GI Forces.

Indeed Lucas is on record having said that the original Star Wars was in part a commentary on the Vietnam War:" 

"It was really about the Vietnam War, and that was the period where Nixon was trying to run for a [second] term, which got me to thinking historically about how do democracies get turned into dictatorships?"

Apparently, he wrote a note in 1973 that said Star Wars was about: "A large technological empire going after a small group of freedom fighters.”

One could argue this concept made clear the moment they start to watch the film. The first scene features a massive Star Destroyer chasing down a small fleeing ship. In that sense, Star Wars is about the asymmetry of power in the universe, the same as the struggle between the Ewoks and the Evil Empire.

Obviously, the Vietnam War played hugely on the minds of the American people so of course it had an effect on George Lucas.

He was an objector to the Vietnam war but was actually drafted by the US Army. To his luck, he was rejected when Army doctors discovered he has diabetes. I say luck, because: war.

History shows that Lucas became a filmmaker, kicking off with THX-1138 and then American Graffiti. He also started developing a film about the Vietnam War. There's a long and interesting history behind it but eventually, it became Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in which Harrison Ford had a small role (named Colonel Lucas...)

“A lot of my interest in Apocalypse Now carried over into Star Wars.”

So that's that.

Many viewers have noted commentary in Revenge of the Sith. That film features the Emperor taking more power for himself, becoming the Senate and Darth Vader decreeing to Obi-Wan that if he wasn't with him, he was against him.

This had strong parallels to political activity in America at the time when concerns were being raised about the powers the Patriot Act had given to the State, the invasion of Iraq to find imaginary weapons of mass destruction and George Bush's statement to the world at large that if you were not with America, you were against it.

This however, was not a deliberate commentary that time as the script was written prior to Bush's statement.

It was not lost on Lucas though and he stated in an interview "The parallels between Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable."
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