All the people you never knew were in Star Wars

From hidden celebrity cameos to FX maestros disguised by makeup, these are the people you might not have known popped up in Star Wars.

Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
1 of 41 Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Simon Pegg

In the 40 years since it began, Star Wars has made household names of stars like Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher. But hidden farther down the saga's cast list is a galaxy of stars you may not have noticed.

From newcomers who weren't famous yet to celebrity cameos to effects wizards stepping in front of the camera, these are quite a few well-known names.

For starters, Simon Pegg made an appearance. To find out which film and which role, check out slide 18.

2 of 41 Jonathan Olley

Daniel Craig

Let's start with "The Force Awakens". James Bond star Daniel Craig stopped by the set and donned Stormtrooper armour just in time to fall victim to a Jedi mind trick that left him shaken and stirred.

3 of 41 Anthony Harvey/Getty Images for BFI

Keira Knightley

In "The Phantom Menace", Queen Amidala's attendants/body doubles are buried under a ton of makeup, which is why it's hard to tell the young handmaiden Sabé is none other than Keira Knightley. A couple of years later, "Bend it Like Beckham" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" made her a star.

4 of 41 Chris Weeks

Rose Byrne

Like Keira Knightley, "Bridesmaids" and "Neighbors" star Rose Byrne played a handmaiden early in her movie career, in "Revenge of the Sith".

5 of 41 Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank

John Ratzenberger

Little known fact: in one of the more instantly recognisable bit parts in the Star Wars saga, John Ratzenberger played rebel officer Major Derlin -- two years before landing his signature role as Cliff in "Cheers".

6 of 41 David Giesbrecht/Netflix

Jessica Henwick

Under the helmet of Resistance pilot Jess Testor in "Force Awakens" is "Game of Thrones" and "Iron Fist" star Jessica Henwick.

7 of 41 Dimension

Tony Cox

Tony Cox, the foul-mouthed elf from "Bad Santa", donned a fur suit for "Return of the Jedi" and two Ewok TV movies. He also has the dubious distinction of appearing in both the Star Wars saga and the Star Wars spoof "Spaceballs".

8 of 41 Lucasfilm

Joe Johnston

Effects whiz Joe Johnston went on to direct "The Rocketeer", "Jurassic Park III" and "Captain America: The First Avenger". But before that he played a rebel on Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back".

9 of 41 Universal

Brian Blessed

The booming voice of veteran British actor Brian Blessed is instantly recognisable. He plays the king of Naboo's Gungans, having already played Vultan the leader of the hawkmen in "Flash Gordon".

10 of 41 Warner Bros. Pictures

Richard Armitage

The heroic dwarf Thorin in the "Hobbit" trilogy got an early taste of a big-budget fantasy franchise when the then-unknown actor played a Naboo fighter pilot in "The Phantom Menace".

11 of 41 Albert Clarke /Lucasfilm Ltd.

Timothy D. Rose

It's not a trap -- the man who played Admiral Ackbar in both the original movies and "The Force Awakens" was a puppeteer who also operated Sy Snootles and Jabba the Hutt's cackling pet Salacious Crumb. Among his other work, he brought Howard the Duck to life in the disastrous 1986 Marvel comic adaptation, not to mention Cosmo and Dibbs in British kids' show "You And Me".

12 of 41 Lucasfilm

Richard Marquand

Richard Marquand directed "Return of the Jedi" and also hopped in front of the camera to command one of the Imperial scout walkers -- until he was beaten up by Ewoks.

13 of 41 Syfy

Hannah John-Kamen

Hannah John-Kamen, star of "Killjoys" and "Game of Thrones", is also a First Order officer in "The Force Awakens".

14 of 41 Lucasfilm

Phil Tippett

Animation pioneer Phil Tippett (right), one of the visual effects maestros behind Star Wars, "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park", stood in as an alien in Mos Eisley in "Star Wars", as well as operating the Rancor puppet (pictured) in "Return of the Jedi".

15 of 41

Bill Hader and Ben Schwartz

Bill Hader of "Saturday Night Live" fame and Ben Schwartz, who played Jean-Ralphio in "Parks and Recreation", provided the voice of BB-8 in "The Force Awakens". (See Schwartz talking about the process in a Reddit interview here.)

16 of 41 Lucasfilm

Julian Glover

If you need a British bad guy, Julian Glover's your man. As well as leading the AT-AT assault playing General Veers in "The Empire Strikes Back", Glover troubled both James Bond and Indiana Jones before turning up in "Game of Thrones" as Grand Maester Pycelle.

17 of 41 Lucasfilm

Ralph McQuarrie

Every Star Wars fan knows the name Ralph McQuarrie, the man whose artwork defined the iconic visuals of the saga. And you can spot him among the rebel officers on Hoth in "The Empire Strikes Back".

18 of 41 David James

Simon Pegg

Self-confessed nerd Simon Pegg has some strong opinions about Star Wars, so he earned the role of avaricious Unkar Plutt in "The Force Awakens".

19 of 41 Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Sofia Coppola

Queen Amidala's entourage includes Saché, played by none other than the director of "The Virgin Suicides" and "Lost in Translation". Sofia Coppola visited the set to hang out with family friend George Lucas. Her brother Roman is also knocking around the senate as a guard.

20 of 41 Lucasfilm

Grant McCune

Model-maker Grant McCune was part of the Oscar-winning visual effects team on Star Wars, as well as working on "Jaws", "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" and many more. He appeared in "A New Hope" as a Death Star Gunner.

21 of 41 HBO

Dominic West

Before his big break in "The Wire", a young Dominic West guarded the palace of Naboo in "The Phantom Menace". Not very well, obviously.

22 of 41 Lucasfilm

Don Henderson

Legendary British TV hard man Don Henderson was known for playing detective George Bulman in three series, as well as snarling his way through cult sci-fi shows "Doctor Who" and "Red Dwarf". He played General Tagge in the conference scene in "A New Hope".

23 of 41 Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Treat Williams

Although he went uncredited as a Hoth rebel in "Empire Strikes Back", Treat Williams later became a successful actor in TV and movies including "Eddie Dodd" and "Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead".

24 of 41 Lucasfilm

Michael Sheard

In addition to being strangled over Skype in "The Empire Strikes Back", Michael Sheard was feared by a generation of British kids as the tyrannical teacher Mr Bronson in "Grange Hill". He also appeared in "Doctor Who" no less than six times, while US viewers may remember him as Adolf Hitler in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

25 of 41 BBC

John Altman

Hiss-worthy BBC soap opera villain "Nasty Nick" Cotton from "EastEnders" was part of the rebellion in "Return of the Jedi". Another "EastEnders" villain can be glimpsed in "The Phantom Menace", when Steve John Shepherd -- aka Michael Moon -- appeared on Naboo.

26 of 41 ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Benjamin Burtt

Benjamin Burtt created the immediately recognizable sounds of the Star Wars saga -- the buzz of the lightsabers, Chewbacca's animal roar and more -- and earned an Oscar in the process. He also appeared on screen as the officer who instructs Han Solo to "freeze!" in the Endor shield bunker. In a saga full of lightsabers, lasers and other cool futuristic weapons, Burtt's character is dispatched by a toolbox.

27 of 41 Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Celia Imrie and Geraldine James

From "Absolutely Fabulous" and various roles alongside the late comedienne Victoria Wood, Celia Imrie (centre) improbably climbed into a spacefighter cockpit in "The Phantom Menace". The trend for distinguished British actresses flying spaceships continued in "Rogue One", in which Geraldine James (left) was Blue Three.

28 of 41 Paramount

Ralph Brown

Ralph Brown played the pilot of the shiny spaceship in "The Phantom Menace", but you may remember him as the frazzled drug dealer and roadie from "Withnail and I" and "Wayne's World 2".

29 of 41 Kevin Winter/Getty Images

John Knoll

John Knoll is the Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor on various Star Trek, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean movies. After jumping into the cockpit of a Naboo fighter in "Phantom Menace", he had the idea to make a film about the Death Star plans -- which became "Rogue One". Oh, and he also straight-up invented Photoshop.

30 of 41

Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian

High-kicking Iko Uwais and his fellow star of "The Raid", Yayan Ruhian, appear as in "The Force Awakens" as space pirates.

31 of 41 Comic Relief/Getty Images

Thomas Brodie-Sangster

Liam Neeson (left) doesn't have much form at handing out advice to boys in his charge: first Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side, and then Thomas Brodie-Sangster, his son from "Love Actually", winds up as an Imperial officer in "The Force Awakens".

32 of 41 NBC

Judah Friedlander

Be-capped "30 Rock" star Judah Friedlander sinks a drink as an alien bar patron in "The Force Awakens".

33 of 41 Steffan Hill

Simon Farnaby

You might recognise British comedian Simon Farnaby from "Horrible Histories", "The Mighty Boosh" and the recent "Mindhorn". He was also pilot Blue Five in "Rogue One".

34 of 41 Columbia

Dee Tails

Remember that '90s song "I've Got a Little Something For You", by MN8? Sticking with the numbered names, rapper Dee Tails from the band is an L-1 droid in "Rogue One".

35 of 41 BBC

Richard Franklin

Fans of classic "Doctor Who" will remember Richard Franklin (left) as the dashing Captain Mike Yates, a series regular alongside Jon Pertwee's third Doctor in the 1970s. He appeared as an engineer in "Rogue One".

36 of 41 Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson

"Looper" director Rian Johnson is in charge of "Episode VIII: The Last Jedi", but in a "Rogue One" cameo he was in charge of some Imperial gadgetry as a random technician.

37 of 41 Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Billie Lourd

Joining the Resistance in "Force Awakens" is Billie Lourd of "Scream Queens" (left) -- who also happens to be Carrie Fisher's daughter.

38 of 41 David Wolff/Patrick, Redferns/Getty Images

Nigel Godrich

Under the helmet of "Force Awakens" Stormtrooper FN-9330 is music producer Nigel Godrich (centre, performing with Thom Yorke), who's overseen every Radiohead album since the 1990s. He's joined under Stormtrooper helmet FN-3181 by movie composer Michael Giacchino, who has written music for Star Trek and Star Wars.

39 of 41 Lionsgate

Joel Edgerton

Luke Skywalker's guardian Uncle Owen was played as a younger man in "Revenge of the Sith" by Australian actor Joel Edgerton (right), from "Warrior", "Black Mass" and "The Great Gatsby".

40 of 41 WireImage/Michael Schwartz

Greg Proops and Scott Capurro

"Whose Line is it Anyway?" comics Proops (pictured) and Capurro lent their voices to the two-headed podrace commentator in "The Phantom Menace".

41 of 41 Lucasfilm

Greg Grunberg

"Heroes" star Greg Grunberg pops up in most J.J. Abrams movies, including the rebooted "Star Trek" and "The Force Awakens" as Snap Wexley.

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