THEN & NOW: The original 'Star Wars' cast 38 years later

Star wars luke leia han soloLucasfilm screencapMark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford in ‘Star Wars: A New Hope.’

The first movie instalment of “Star Wars” premiered in 1977, and anticipation for each new sequel and prequel has snowballed ever since.

Now, a seventh movie, “The Force Awakens” is being released — and it will include the beloved original main characters played by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill, as well as other role reprisals from other fan favourites. It’s kicking off a hot streak of six new “Star Wars” movies planned for release over the next five years.

So what’s everybody from the original three “Star Wars” movies been up to in the past 38 years? Scroll through to find out.

THEN: Harrison Ford was working as a carpenter to supplement his flailing acting career. But after 'Star Wars: A New Hope' came out, he rocketed to stardom.

LucasFilm via YouTube

He knew director George Lucas because they worked together on 'American Graffiti.' Ford was helping stand in for screen tests while other actors auditioned. To his surprise, Lucas offered him the part without even telling him he was up for it.


NOW: Ford is a bona fide A-list movie star.

Joe Scarnici/Stringer, Getty Images

The first three 'Star Wars' films put Ford on the map. Since then, he starred in the 'Indiana Jones' movie franchise and plenty of other films from the '80s until today. He recently returned to the action genre in 'The Expendables' and its sequel.

Most importantly, though, he's reprising his role as Han Solo in December. Fans around the world lost it when he appeared at the end of an early 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' teaser to say to his Wookiee sidekick, 'Chewie, we're home.'

THEN: Carrie Fisher had had some small roles, but was predominantly known as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds until being cast in 'Star Wars: A New Hope.'

In her feature film debut, she had a small but memorable role as a rambunctious teen in the Warren Beatty vehicle 'Shampoo' in 1975. She landed 'Star Wars' two years later.

THEN: Mark Hamill was mostly a TV actor before landing his iconic role as Luke Skywalker in 'Star Wars: A New Hope.'


He was a regular on 'General Hospital' and can also be seen in episodes of 'The Bill Cosby Show' and 'The Partridge Family.'

THEN: Billy Dee Williams was a classically trained actor who got his big break in the football movie 'Brian's Song' before playing Lando Calrissian in 'The Empire Strikes Back.'

Lucasfilm screencap

Billy Dee Williams was one of the few 'Star Wars' actors who was already famous when the movies came out. He acted on Broadway and was once tutored in acting by Sidney Poitier, according to the New York Times.

THEN: James Earl Jones was a rising star in the film world, having acted in 'Dr. Strangelove' before he provided the voice for Darth Vader.

Screenshot/Empire Strikes Back

With his deep-voiced gravitas, he was apparently cast to play a doctor all the time -- he's billed as a doctor in six of his pre-'Star Wars' roles. He also won two Tony awards for theatre before he even started work on 'Star Wars.'

As famous as he is for his booming voice, he actually had a stutter as a child and even went years without speaking, but overcame it through acting and poetry.

THEN: Alec Guinness was a respected actor before joining the cast of 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' to play Obi-Wan Kenobi.


Guinness had perhaps the most impressive résumé pre-'Star Wars' of the entire cast.

He had a large part in the 1962 classic 'Lawrence of Arabia,' and his credits went all the way back to 1934. He was well aware of his pedigree, too, and might have thought he was above 'Star Wars.' When he was offered the part of Obi-Wan, he reportedly called it 'fairy-tale rubbish.'

NOW: Guinness kept acting until 1996 and died four years later in 2000.


After appearing in all three original 'Star Wars' movies, Guinness kept acting until 1996 and died at age 86 in 2000. He might not have felt creatively fulfilled by his work on the franchise, but the 'lovely bread' it brought in for him might have made it worth the hassle.

THEN: Frank Oz was a voiceover actor known for 'The Muppets' before he was cast to perform Yoda's voice.

Star Wars/Lucasfilms

Before being cast as Yoda, Oz was already playing Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Grover from the Muppets as well as Bert, Grover, and Cookie Monster on 'Sesame Street.'

NOW: Oz has continued portraying all the same characters since the '60s and '70s -- but it's unclear whether he'll return as Yoda in episode VII.


Beloved as Yoda is, people are really hoping Oz will, in fact, get to work on the new films. There's no word either way yet, so we'll have to wait and see.

THEN: At 7'3' tall, Peter Mayhew was the man in the Chewbacca suit.

Mayhew was reportedly discovered by 'Star Wars' producers after appearing in a newspaper article about men with large feet. He studied the movement of animals at the zoo to nail Chewie's gait and his voice was dubbed over with animal growls in the films.

THEN: Anthony Daniels was working in theatre before being cast as C-3PO.

Daniels actually turned down a meeting with George Lucas because he hated science fiction, according to his own website. Then, his agent convinced him to check it out. He saw a rendering of the character and was intrigued, before landing the part.

THEN: Many people don't realise there was a man inside R2-D2, and that man was Kenny Baker.

He worked in circuses, travelling pantomimes, and even an ice show before landing the role of R2-D2, according to his site.

NOW: Kenny Baker went on to act in plenty of other films, and also portrays R2-D2 every time there's a 'Star Wars' reboot.


Baker still receives fan mail every day, he told BBC in 2012, and he's made over 20 movies, including all six 'Star Wars' films. He will also appear in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.'

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