The original Star Wars cast was comprised mostly of unknown actors. That is, actors that, while they may have had bit parts in other films or TV shows, were far from recognizable and would’ve faded away into obscurity if they hadn’t got their big break.
Sometimes, though, even that doesn’t help.
Mark Hamill was just another aspiring actor making his way in Hollywood with small gigs here and there when his friend, fellow actor Robert Englund, suggested that he try out for a part in Star Wars. Hamill, who was already fighting for a role in Apocalypse Now, ended up heeding his terrifying friend’s advice and nailed the audition, landing him the role of the most recognizable hero in movie history. Just one of the many things we have Freddy Krueger to thank for.
I’ve found that Luke Skywalker kind of makes up for the incessant night terrors.
Harrison Ford was getting semi-steady work in TV movies, but he was mostly working as a carpenter and was initially hired by George Lucas to read lines for the actors who were actually auditioning for parts. Lucas was so impressed by his reading of the lines that he offered him, the part of Han Solo. Carrie Fisher’s grip on “unknown” status is a little bit more tenuous, as she was born into a celebrity family, but her only role before Star Wars was a small part in a romantic comedy that no one remembers, so I’ll give it to her.
I was pleased to see that the new movies are going by more or less the same route as the original trilogy. The actors chosen to play (What I assume to be) the roles of leading actor, leading lady and lead villain all have ages in the 20-30 year range who haven’t had a very large body of work. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
(All biographical and filmographical info can be found on their respective Wikipedia pages.)
Dude looks like a young Denzel Washington. But also terrifying.
Born: 17 March 1992 in Peckham, London, England
Nationality: English (Nigerian parents)
Notable role: Moses in Attack the Block.
After appearing in several plays, John Boyega first broke out in the British 2011 sci-fi comedy Attack the Block, in which he plays a street tough named Moses who must lead his gang of young, drug-dealing hoodlums in the fight against an invasive species of aliens that take over his neighborhood in Brixton (Which is to London what Harlem is to New York City, from what I’ve heard from British movies and Clash songs.
While the movie was pretty great as a whole, I found that Boyega’s performance was one of, if not the best part of the movie. Indeed, he was widely acclaimed for the film, which netted him a Black Reel Award for Best Actor (The Black Reel Awards are awards dedicated to celebrating the best black filmmakers. Kind of like the BET Awards, except not a total joke). He kind of struck the balance between being a total hardass and thug…
Can I still say “thug”? I meant “disenfranchised urban youth”.
… who can slice up a motherfucker, and being a sympathetic character. Which makes me excited about his role in the upcoming Star Wars movie, in which I’m guessing he’s going to be the lead actor. See, I really don’t want to see a movie centered around the Skywalkers and Han Solo, or their stupid children. I want to see a story about an unlikely, relatable hero saving the day, and John Boyega seems like the type of actor who could deliver in that regard. He has real potential to make a very good first impression, as he’s a better actor than Mark Hamill was in the first Star Wars movie (Call it Episode IV, I dare you) and miles better than whoever the fuck the protagonist was supposed to be in The Phantom Menace.
Catch him next in: Half of a Yellow Sun
Notable role: ….
Man, does anybody know anything about Daisy Ridley? She is pretty much the textbook definition of an unknown actress. The most I know is that she’s had a few minuscule roles in BBC shows and a small upcoming role in a British comedy film named The Inbetweeners 2. Speaking of which, has anyone actually watched the original British Inbetweeners show? I’ve heard it’s good.
Anyways, I’m guessing that Ridley is going to have the leading female role in the movie, although they’re not done casting female roles, apparently. I guess it speaks volumes that she apparently beat out 12 Years a Slave star and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.
Also, she’s insanely hot. Just saying.
Catch her next in: The Inbetweeners 2
What are you doing, buddy?
Born: November 19, 1983 in San Diego, California
Notable role: Adam Sackler in Girls
Now that I think about it, Adam Driver might not be able to be considered an unknown anymore, since he’s won a damn Emmy for his supporting role in the HBO comedy Girls, and he’s had some supporting roles in movies. Matbe I should have gone with Domhnall Gleeson- ah, screw it.
Driver is widely rumoured to be playing the villain in the new Star Wars and, well, offhand, I can’t think of a reason why he shouldn’t play the part. I’d need to check out Girls though (The TV show, not.. Okay, well that too, I guess). Maybe after I finish this new Game of Thrones season.
Oh fuck! I’ve still gotta finish that Game of Thrones series! Shit!
Catch him next in: Girls, or the upcoming 2015 sci-fi movie, Midnight Special.
To be continued…