It took 42 years, but Star Wars fans can finally go back and look at the entire nine-part Skywalker saga. What started as just three films has developed into something unprecedented: a trilogy of trilogies. Sure, fans might take issue with one or more of the Star Wars trilogies. But the saga has managed to restart every generation or so.
Because the franchise has spanned four decades — and jumps significant time in between trilogies — very few performers have managed to appear in all three Star Wars trilogies. But even if they aren’t playing the same characters throughout, some Star Wars veterans are so intrinsically linked to the saga that we aren’t surprised they have always been part of it.
Just one actor has appeared in every ‘Star Wars’ movie ever made
Although a handful of actors have popped up in the original, prequel, and sequel trilogies, only one has been in every single Star Wars film. Anthony Daniels has played the perpetually worried C-3PO since 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. The character is almost always accompanied by his counterpart, R2-D2. But Daniels remains the only actor to play C-3PO on the big screen.
The protocol droid appears not only in the original trilogy but in every installment of the prequel and sequel trilogies as well. Daniels also provides the voice of C-3PO in the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars film. The character makes a cameo appearance in Rogue One. And Daniels himself pops up briefly in Solo, playing a character named Tak.
To be sure, Daniels remains one of the saga’s most beloved figures both on screen and behind the scenes. His consistent presence in every Star Wars film made the news Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would be his final appearance as C-3PO all the more poignant.
These legacy actors have been present since the original trilogy
Just as Daniels’ C-3PO has appeared in all three trilogies, so too has Kenny Baker. Baker played R2-D2 in both the original and prequel trilogies. However, by the time the sequel trilogy came around, Baker was unable to continue in the role on-screen. He still worked as an R2-D2 consultant in The Force Awakens, still contributing to the performance.
Of course, Ian McDiarmid also returned for the sequel trilogy. The actor first played Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi. Years later, he reprised the role far more prominently in the Star Wars prequels. As the saga’s Big Bad, he’s remained a constant presence, as has Frank Oz’s Yoda.
Oz performed the Jedi Master’s voice and puppetry in both the original and sequel trilogies as well as his voice in all three trilogies. And original trilogy star Peter Mayhew only played Chewbacca briefly in Revenge of the Sith and worked alongside Joonas Suotamo on The Force Awakens. But he too was involved in all three Star Wars trilogies.
Lastly, Warwick Davis played main Ewok Wicket W. Warrick in Return of the Jedi. And although fans don’t see Wicket again until the final moments of The Rise of Skywalker — accompanied by his real-life son — Davis also played other characters in The Phantom Menace and throughout the sequel trilogy.
Have fans seen the last of these ultimate ‘Star Wars’ veterans?
The future of Star Wars is, of course, largely unclear. As of this writing, Lucasfilm is still expected to release a new Star Wars movie in 2022, though fans have no clear indication of what it will be. For now, Disney+ series such as The Mandalorian offer the best hint of what is next for the “galaxy far, far away.” But seeing any of the veterans again is unlikely.
After all, Baker and Mayhew sadly passed away in 2016 and 2019, respectively. And Daniels and McDiarmid seem like they’re retiring from the saga. That leaves only Oz and Davis. The former has performed and/or voiced Yoda throughout the film series. So, if Yoda does appear in subsequent big-screen releases, he could keep that up.
But the most likely actor to remain in the Star Wars universe, however, is probably Davis. At 50 years old, he’s easily the youngest on this list. And unlike most of the actors, Davis has played a variety of characters in the Star Wars saga. Besides, with Disney+ developing a Willow sequel series, Davis doesn’t appear to be leaving the Lucasfilm family anytime soon.