The Jedi are the main protagonists of the blockbuster "Star Wars" franchise, powerful Force-wielding beings who are guardians of peace and justice in galaxies far, far away. As creator George Lucas once said, the Jedi "use their power to keep the governments of all the planets in line, so that they don't do terrible things." Luke Skywalker is the most popular Jedi and the lead character in the original trilogy of films in which fans get to see young Luke train to become a Jedi Master and assist in the Rebel Alliance's struggle against the Galactic Empire. Breakout star Mark Hamill, who won audiences over as Luke in the original 1977 movie, turns 70 on Sept. 25, 2021. To celebrate, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at what all the stars who've played Jedi are up to now.
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RELATED: Stars turning 70 in 2021
When the original "Star Wars" trilogy finished, Mark Hamill made efforts to keep from being pigeonholed by turning to Broadway roles and voiceover work. He's built a very successful career with his voice acting, becoming synonymous with the iconic comic book villain The Joker, who he's voiced in various mediums since "Batman: The Animated Series" in the '90s. The California-born star can also be heard in the "Batman: Arkham" video game series and the animated movie "Batman: The Killing Joke." He also voiced characters on "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance," "Regular Show" and "Metalocalypse" and played murderous doll Chucky in the 2019 "Child's Play" remake. Mark still makes on-camera appearances too, like in "Knightfall," "The Flash," "Brigsby Bear," the series "What We Do in the Shadows" and "Kingsman: The Secret Service." He pleased fans across the globe when he reprised his role as Luke Skywalker in the most recent "Star Wars" film trilogy between 2015 and 2019. Mark has been married to dental hygienist Marilou York since 1978; they share three children.
Rey was introduced in 2015's "The Force Awakens" as the protagonist of the latest "Star Wars" trilogy. Daisy Ridley plays the former scavenger who trains to be a Jedi under Luke Skywalker after it's discovered that she is powerful with the Force. She eventually takes on the universe's toughest villains and adopts the name "Skywalker" to honor her mentor despite being descended from a Sith Lord. As the last remaining Jedi, she makes it her lifelong mission to rebuild the Jedi Order from the ground up.
Episodes 7 through 9 of the "Star Wars" films made Daisy Ridley — a relative unknown when she booked one of Hollywood's most high-profile gigs as Rey — a household name. It led to gigs as an executive producer of the 2016 documentary "The Eagle Huntress" and helped her score a slot as one of several actors featured on Barbra Streisand's 2016 album "Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway." Even after the trilogy was completed, the big roles kept coming with major parts in films like "Murder on the Orient Express," "Ophelia" and 2021's "Chaos Walking." The London native lent her voice to 2018's "Peter Rabbit" and will next lead the psychological thriller "The Marsh King's Daughter."
Darth Vader is not only the main antagonist of the original "Star Wars" trilogy — he's one of the most famous villains in movie history. The chief enforcer of the evil Galactic Empire is intent on destroying Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. That is, until he reveals that he's Luke's father and sacrifices himself to stop the evil Emperor Palpatine and save his child.
Darth Vader has been played by multiple people and was most notably voiced by James Earl Jones in the original trilogy. After his work as the helmet-clad Sith Lord, James made splashes in films like "Coming to America," "Field of Dreams," "The Hunt for Red October" and "The Sandlot." The Mississippi-born actor won the hearts of two generations of children by voicing Mufasa in "The Lion King" — both the original 1994 cartoon and the 2019 remake. He also continued his long-running Broadway career and racked up Emmy nominations for his work on the television shows "By Dawn's Early Light," "Heat Wave, "Gabriel's Fire," "Picket Fences," "Under One Roof," "Frasier" and "Everwood." More recently, James reprised the part of Darth Vader on the animated series "Star Wars Rebels" and in 2016's "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." He was last seen reprising the role of King Jaffe Joffer in the comedy sequel "Coming 2 America" in 2021. He wed his second wife, actress Cecilia Hart, in 1982; she died from ovarian cancer in 2016. The pair share a son. James was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1985 and presented with the National Medal of the Arts by President George H.W. Bush in 1992. He received the Kennedy Center Honor and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2002, an honorary Academy Award in 2011, and an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Harvard University and a special Tony Award for lifetime achievement in the theatre in 2017.
The second "Star Wars" trilogy provides fans with the origin story of Darth Vader, revealing what his life was like as young Anakin Skywalker before he became a powerful evildoer. Jake Lloyd plays him in 1999's "Episode I: The Phantom Menace," where he is introduced as a slave on the planet Tatooine and a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force.
Jake Lloyd, who was only 10 at the time, received scathing reviews for his performance in "The Phantom Menace." After voicing young Anakin in a series of video games, he only acted in one more project: the sports drama "Maddison." The indie film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001 but didn't land in theaters until 2005. The bullying he suffered from classmates caused him to retire from acting and retreat from public life, save for the occasional convention appearance. The Colorado native said in a 2012 interview that he destroyed all his "Star Wars" memorabilia and refused to re-watch the films. The former child star reportedly left Hollywood behind to study psychology at Chicago's Columbia College. Jake (seen here in 2011) made headlines again in 2015 when he was arrested for reckless driving, driving without a license and resisting arrest after leading police on a high-speed car chase. He spent some time behind bars before he was transferred to a psychiatric facility. In 2020, his family issued a statement saying that Jake has moved closer to his relatives and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Hayden Christensen took over the part from Jake Lloyd in the sequels "Episode II – Attack of the Clones" and "Episode III – Revenge of the Sith." These films show Anakin Skywalker being lured to the dark side of the Force by Palpatine and eventually becoming a Sith lord. A lightsaber battle with former mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi in the final film of the trilogy leaves him severely injured and transformed into a cyborg, after which he assumes the title of Darth Vader.
Shortly after taking on "Star Wars," Hayden Christensen starred in the acclaimed drama "Shattered Glass," but the mixed reviews for his performance as Anakin won him a Golden Raspberry Award for worst supporting actor. He remained busy in subsequent years with films like "Factory Girl," "Awake," "Takers," "Jumper," "New York, I Love You" and "American Heist," but nothing reached the heights of the sci-fi blockbusters. Since then, the Vancouver-born star has formed his own production company with brother Tove, Glacier Films, and has been featured in indie films such as "Outcast," "90 Minutes in Heaven," "First Kill" and "Little Italy." He reprised the part of Anakin with a voice cameo in 2019's "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" and in 2020, it was announced he would play the part again in the forthcoming "Obi-Wan Kenobi" limited series on streaming platform Disney+. Hayden became engaged to actress Rachel Bilson after the pair met on the set of "Jumper" and they welcomed daughter Briar Rose in 2014. However, they called it quits in 2017.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is another "Star Wars" character who's been played by multiple people throughout the franchise, starting with Sir Alec Guinness in the original film trilogy. The beloved Jedi master serves as a mentor to Luke Skywalker and introduces him to the ways of the Jedi. Obi-Wan eventually sacrifices himself in a duel against Darth Vader and then guides Luke through the Force in his fight against the Galactic Empire.
Alec Guinness was a long-respected actor with an Oscar to his name before he was cast in "Star Wars." He also earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi and yet another one for his work in "Little Dorrit" in 1989. His other notable projects include an Emmy-nominated turn on "Smiley's People," the "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" miniseries and 1984's "A Passage to India." The English actor was also known for playing countless Shakespearean roles throughout his career and released three memoirs between 1985 and 1999. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts in 1959, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960 and earned an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in 1980. Alec married actress-playwright Merula Sylvia Salaman in 1938 and they had one son, actor Matthew Guinness. The pair were still together when Alec (seen here in 1996) died from liver cancer in 2000 at 86.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was given some backstory in the prequel trilogy of "Star Wars" films that came out between 1999 and 2005. In these films, Ewan McGregor takes on the character as an apprentice to Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn. He later mentors and befriends Luke's father, Anakin, who falls to the dark side of the Force despite Obi-Wan's best efforts, and becomes Darth Vader.
Ewan McGregor's star has only risen since joining the "Star Wars" universe. His eclectic list of accomplishments in the years since include his Golden Globe-nominated performance in "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" and Golden Globe-winning work in the acclaimed anthology series "Fargo," for which he also scored an Emmy nomination. Other hits include "August: Osage County," "The Impossible," "Angels & Demons," "T2 Trainspotting," "Doctor Sleep" and the 2017 live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast," in which he voiced Lumière. The Scottish star was most recently seen in the Netflix limited series "Halston," for which he won an Emmy in 2021. He will next reprise his role as Obi-Wan in an upcoming live-action series for streaming platform Disney+. In 2017, Ewan split from his wife of more than two decades, Eve Mavrakis, with whom he has four children. That same year, he went public with "Fargo" co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead; the couple welcomed a son in 2021.
Liam Neeson plays Qui-Gon Jinn in 1999's "Episode I – The Phantom Menace." He's a powerful, wise and controversial Jedi Master with many uncommon beliefs regarding the Force. Qui-Gon is the character who first encounters a young Anakin Skywalker, whom he believes to be the prophesied chosen one who will bring balance to the Force. He insists that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, and upon being mortally wounded in a lightsaber duel, makes Obi-Wan promise that he will mentor the young Skywalker.
Liam Neeson is another household name whose career has only gotten busier since taking on "Star Wars." In subsequent years, he's starred in projects as varied as the biographical drama "Kinsey," the superhero film "Batman Begins," the action-thriller series "Taken," the survival film "The Grey" and Martin Scorsese's religious epic "Silence." That list doesn't even include hits like "Gangs of New York," "Kingdom of Heaven," "Love, Actually," "Widows," "Cold Pursuit" and "Men in Black: International." He also provides the voices of Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia" trilogy and the titular monster in "A Monster Calls." The Irish actor tragically lost his wife of 15 years, actress Natasha Richardson, in 2009 in a skiing accident. They have two sons.
Samuel L. Jackson portrays Mace Windu in the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy films that came out between 1999 and 2005. The Jedi Master is a member of the High Council during the final years of the Galactic Republic and wields a unique purple-bladed lightsaber. He's considered one of the most powerful Jedi and is distrustful of Anakin Skywalker because of his dangerous potential. Mace is eventually killed by the evil Supreme Chancellor Palpatine.
Samuel L. Jackson is a prolific actor who's appeared in more than 150 films. The list was extensive before his work in the "Star War" universe and it's only gotten more crowded in the years since. He gained prominence for his continued collaborations with director Spike Lee in the films "Oldboy" and "Chi-Raq" and with Quentin Tarantino in "Django Unchained" and "The Hateful Eight." The Washington, D.C., native's immeasurable filmography includes "Unbreakable, "Shaft" and its 2019 sequel, "Coach Carter," "Snakes on a Plane," "The Other Guys," "Kong: Skull Island" and "Glass." He also voiced the role of Mace in the 2008 animated film "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Over the last decade, Samuel has become best known for portraying Nick Fury in 11 Marvel Cinematic Universe films, beginning with a cameo appearance in 2008's "Iron Man," as well as guest starring on the TV series "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." He will next reprise this role in the upcoming Disney+ series "Secret Invasion" in 2022. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced in 2021 that he will be the recipient of an honorary Academy Award.
Carrie Fisher famously played Princess Leia Organa in the "Star Wars" franchise. She ws introduced as a princess of the planet Alderaan, a member of the Imperial Senate and an agent of the Rebel Alliance. By the end of the original trilogy, she is revealed as Darth Vader's daughter and the twin sister of Luke Skywalker. In the most recent film trilogy, fans learn that Leia was briefly trained as a Jedi by her brother before becoming the mentor of Rey, the last remaining Jedi.
Carrie Fisher followed the original "Star Wars" films with parts in hits like "The Man with One Red Shoe," "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "When Harry Met Sally," though she turned to mostly smaller films, voice work and guest starring spots on TV following the '90s. The talented writer was also an in-demand script doctor for myriad Hollywood films and wrote and starred in the one-woman play "Wishful Drinking," which enjoyed a successful Broadway run and became the basis for her book of the same name — one of several works she penned — as well as an Emmy-nominated HBO special. In more recent years, she received Emmy nominations for her guest spots on "30 Rock" and "Catastrophe" before reprising her role as Leia in the latest "Star Wars" trilogy. She was married to musician Paul Simon for a year in the '80s and had a lengthy relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd, with whom she welcomed daughter Billie in 1992 before splitting a few years later. Carrie died at 60 in 2016 four days after she suffered a cardiac event on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Medical examiners concluded that "sleep apnea and other undetermined factors" contributed to her death.
Yoda is one of the most famous icons from the "Star Wars" universe. The small green humanoid alien is powerful with the Force and serves as Grandmaster of the Jedi Order throughout the blockbuster films. The mentor of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he lives in exile on the swamp planet of Dagobah and trains Luke Skywalker in the ways of the Force until his death.
Yoda was voiced and puppeteered by Frank Oz, who also worked on numerous Muppets projects as well as "Sesame Street" between 1969 and 2014. Outside of that, he's also known for his work in the films "The Blues Brothers" and "Blues Brothers 2000," "An American Werewolf in London," "The Dark Crystal," which he co-directed with Jim Henson, "Trading Places" and "Labyrinth." More recently, he voiced Subconscious Guard Dave in 2015's "Inside Out" and appeared in 2019's "Knives Out." Frank is also an accomplished director who's helmed movies like "The Muppets Take Manhattan," "Little Shop of Horrors," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," "Housesitter," "The Indian in the Cupboard," "In & Out," "Bowfinger," "The Score," the 2004 remake of "The Stepford Wives," "Death at a Funeral" and "What About Bob?" He was married to Robin Garsen from 1979 to 2005 and wed motivational speaker Victoria Labalme in 2011. He has four children.
Kylo Ren is played by Adam Driver and serves as the main antagonist in the most recent "Star Wars" film trilogy. He was originally known as Ben Solo, the only child of Han Solo and Princess Leia Organa. Though trained by his uncle Luke Skywalker as a Jedi, Kylo was seduced to the dark side of the Force and grew to aspire to be as powerful as his grandfather, the Sith Lord Darth Vader.
Adam Driver got his start acting in theater before rising to prominence as one of the lead stars on the acclaimed HBO series "Girls." After doing "Star Wars," the former Marine returned to the theater with "Burn This," for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. He also garnered consecutive Academy Awards nominations for best supporting actor for his work in Spike Lee's "BlacKkKlansman" and best actor for his performance in Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story." In 2021, the California-born star appeared in the musical drama "Annette," which opened the 74th Cannes Film Festival. He'll next be seen in two 2021 films from acclaimed director Ridley Scott: the historical drama "The Last Duel" and "House of Gucci," a biographical crime film that chronicles the assassination of Maurizio Gucci. Adam married longtime love Joanne Tucker in 2013; the couple have a son.