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The Star Wars saga has a long history of surprise cameos. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is no different. In fact, as the final installment in the series, the film marks the last chance for Lucasfilm to delight fans with Easter eggs.

We already know composer John Williams, filmmaker Kevin Smith, and singer Ed Sheeran show up at various points. But now we’ve received word that The Rise of Skywalker also features the biggest Star Wars figure of all. None other than franchise creator George Lucas has a tiny part to play in the film.

Director George Lucas
Director George Lucas | Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

George Lucas is disappointed with Disney’s sequel trilogy

Longtime Star Wars fans may recall Lucas made a cameo appearance in 2005’s Revenge of the Sith. Likewise, that role was born of the mindset that it would be his last chance to show up in one of the films. Of course, that all changed when Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney back in 2012.

Since then, the director has been disconnected from the creative direction of the series. Under its new ownership, Lucasfilm opted to disregard Lucas’ sequel trilogy notes and start fresh. The resulting film, 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, famously faced criticism for being as much a remake as a sequel.

Lucas himself even reportedly was disappointed by Disney’s relaunch, claiming it brought little new to the saga. We imagine seeing another filmmaking team play in the world he created hasn’t easy. So the last thing anyone expected at this point was for Lucas to make a cameo. Then again, the way it happened makes a lot of sense.

His hidden cameo in ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’

According to a report by ABC News, the audio mix for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker features a clip of George Lucas’ voice. But don’t expect to hear him voice a stormtrooper or among the many voices who speak to Rey in the climax. Rather, the audio of Lucas is simply a scream.

Critics of the sequel trilogy could joke that this scream is Lucas’ reaction to seeing what’s become of Star Wars. However, Lucas initially recorded it for his 1973 release American Graffiti. And the scream — which has become known in-house as “The George” — has popped up in several recent Star Wars films.

In addition to The Rise of Skywalker, “The George” reportedly appears in Rogue One and The Last Jedi. Effectively, Lucas’ voice has replaced “The Wilhelm,” the signature yelp used by sound designer Ben Burtt in countless films over the years. Still, we don’t know exactly when “The George” is used in The Rise of Skywalker.

The ‘Star Wars’ saga still needs to grow beyond George Lucas

The fact that a little piece of Lucas remains a part of Star Wars is a fitting tribute. After all, these movies wouldn’t exist without his vision. However, the omnipresence of “The George” also underscores Lucasfilm’s biggest challenge.

What Star Wars most needs to do going forward is to establish a legacy without Lucas at the helm. The saga might still be profitable. But as the divisive response of the fan base attests, the vision behind it lacks direction. With the Skywalkers firmly in the rearview, all eyes are on what Star Wars does next.

For the time being, The Mandalorian and other Disney+ shows will carry the torch. But Star Wars is a cinematic entity and deserves to remain one. Only time will tell if “The George” will serve as a fitting tribute of the saga’s origins or a haunting reminder of just how far Star Wars has fallen.