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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!
As the grand finale of the nine-episode Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker was expected to reach deep into the franchise canon to execute a conclusion, and that expectation was very much met. Some big questions are answered, some significant arcs are brought to a close, and many characters came back for some final goodbyes.
It’s that last bit that we’re here to talk about in this feature. Not only did director J.J. Abrams manage to bring in some franchise legends, but also big actors in surprising roles and a handful of fun appearances. So let’s dig into it, shall we? Here are all of the cameos we know about in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker so far.
J.J. Abrams (D-O)
Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz were notably brought in to help create the voice for BB-8 in the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the production didn’t go to outside consultation when it came to making D-O for Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. The droid notably speaks English (much like C-3PO), and while its modulated, the voice you’re hearing belongs to director J.J. Abrams. It marks the first time that he has acted as a character instead of himself since a 2001 episode of Alias in which he had a voice role.
Jodie Comer (Rey's Mother)
Those of you who are fans of the critically-acclaimed series Killing Eve probably got a bit of an extra thrill seeing Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker this weekend noticing that Villanelle herself, Jodie Comer, plays Rey’s unnamed mother (opposite actor Billy Howle as Rey’s father). It’s not clear if she is the daughter of Emperor Palpatine, or if that lineage is on her husband’s side, but either way it was fun seeing the Emmy winner in her first blockbuster (and actually only her second movie).
Warwick Davis (Wicket W. Warrick)
Warwick Davis has a long history playing multiple characters in the Star Wars universe (eight to be exact), but for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker he returned to the role that began his relationship with the legendary franchise. In 1983 Davis made his feature film debut playing the fuzzy Ewok named Wicket in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, and in 2019 he reprised that same role for a quick appearance following Rey’s defeat of the Sith. It’s a quick moment, but a cute one, and gives us an interesting look into the biology of the species (much like Wookiees, it appears that they age very slowly).
Harrison Ford (Han Solo)
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker may have rewritten a lot of what Star Wars: The Last Jedi implemented in the canon, but one fantastic detail that was maintained from Rian Johnson’s film was the idea that Kylo Ren was “haunted” by the spirit of his father, Han Solo, whom he killed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams brought this to life in the new blockbuster, getting Harrison Ford to perform one last scene as the world’s favorite intergalactic smuggler. Abrams even finds a way to reference Solo’s famous “I know” line from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – though this time the context refers to Kylo Ren a.k.a. Ben Solo reembracing the Light Side of the Force.
James Earl Jones (Darth Vader)
As we’ll get into more a bit later, not all of the cameos in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker were in-person, as the film finds a way to include a number of actors in voice-only roles. One perfect example is James Earl Jones, who has a single line toward the beginning of the film as Darth Vader speaking as an imitation performed by Emperor Palpatine. It’s a nice surprise, and Jones’ voice is always amazing to hear… though the much more substantial role he had in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did make this appearance a tad less exciting.
Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles)
Star Wars fans spent the majority of the Sequel Trilogy wondering what exactly had become of Wedge Antilles. The skilled pilot was a key part of some of the most important battles between the Rebels and the Empire in the original trilogy, and yet the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi suggested that he had moved on from fighting tyranny when the Rebellion became the Resistance. Just in time for the whole saga to end, though, Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker brought back actor Denis Lawson for a surprise appearance in the new film, featured as one of the heroes brought into battle by Lando Calrissian in the ultimate fight against the First/Final Order.
Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke)
Audiences worldwide were shocked to see Supreme Leader Snoke sliced in half in Star Wars: The Last Jedi given that it seemed he was being set up as the big bad of the Sequel Trilogy – but J.J. Abrams did still find a way for the character to have a minor part in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Specifically, much like James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, you can hear Serkis’ voice spoken through the mouth of the Emperor early in the film when the master of the Dark Side is discussing possibilities for the future with Kylo Ren.
Chris Terrio (Colonel Aftab Ackbar)
Did you know that Admiral Ackbar had a son? Did you know that he was a colonel in the Resistance? Well, those are piece of information brought to light in Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, as Colonel Aftab Ackbar makes his first big screen appearance. On screen the character is played by Tom Wilton, who wears the prosthetics necessary to bring the squid-like alien to life, but his voice is provided by none other than Chris Terrio – who co-wrote the film’s script with J.J. Abrams, and like the director couldn’t resist taking a role in the Star Wars universe.
John Williams (Oma Tres)
There are many reasons why Star Wars is a true icon of cinema, but the epic and unforgettable music composed by John Williams most certainly ranks high on the top of the list. As such, it’s only right that he have a small role to play in the actual universe, appearing on screen for the first time since a 1959 episode of the television series Johnny Staccato. He plays Oma Tres (an anagram of “Maestro”), and is hard to miss in the movie: he’s the bartender the camera lingers on when Poe, Rey, Finn and the other heroes visit the watering hole on Kijimi.
All Of The Jedi
Most of the cameos discussed so far are spread throughout the runtime of Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, but one particular sequence jams a bunch of them into the space of just a few seconds. I am, of course, referring to the moment when Rey reaches out with the Force to try and connect with all the dead Jedi of the past while doing battle with Emperor Palpatine. The chorus she hears in response includes the voices of just about every lightsaber-wielding hero we’ve ever seen on the big screen – and some we’ve only seen in animated features. The list includes:
Angelique Perrin (Adi Gallia)
Freddie Prinze Jr. (Kanan Jarrus)
Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn)
Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Jennifer Hale (Aayla Secura)
Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker)
Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano)
Olivia D’Abo (Luminara Unduli)
Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu)
Frank Oz (Yoda)
Some of the voices are easier to pick out than others simply because of their recognizability (Samuel L. Jackson, Frank Oz, and Liam Neeson, for example, should click instantly for even casual fans), but the effort on the whole is very impressive. When you go back and watch Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker again in the future, see if you can identify each individual voice.
With so many characters sporting helmets and appearing as crazy aliens, we can never be fully sure about all of the cameos in Star Wars movies – and we fully expect that more will be revealed following the publication of this feature. For now, though, hit the comments below to tell us which of all the special appearances is your favorite.