The Star Wars franchise has expanded significantly beyond the original trilogy that started it all. In addition to the prequel and sequel trilogies that round out the “Skywalker Saga,” there are also several spin-off films, live-action streaming series and various animated shows as well. Throughout all of this, characters have frequently made the jump between mediums. Main characters from the films often show up in the animated series, and it is becoming increasingly common for characters from the animated series to jump into live-action as well.
When a character does make the transition from one visual and storytelling medium to another, the actor that brings them to life often changes. A couple of notable examples of this are Matt Lanter voicing Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series instead of Hayden Christensen from the prequel films, and Rosario Dawson playing Ahsoka Tano in live-action rather than Ashley Eckstein who originated the character’s voice in animation. However, while this change with the medium is often the case, it isn’t always? There have been a handful of performers that have portrayed their characters in both animated and live-action Star Wars stories over the years. Here are a few examples:
11 Katee Sackhoff – Bo-Katan Kryze
If there’s any actor that has most successfully managed to stake their claim on the character they play in Star Wars, it’s Katee Sackhoff. The character of Bo-Katan Kryze has been a part of the galaxy for over a decade now. She was first introduced in the fourth season of the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars series, and she has since gone on to be featured in the animated series Star Wars Rebels as well as two seasons of The Mandalorian in live-action.
Throughout all of these appearances, Sackhoff has been the only actor to portray the character. Bo-Katan has become a crucial part of the galaxy far, far away. She was the breakout star of season three of The Mandalorian, and there’s a good chance we’ll see her again sooner than later, whether it be in the Ahsoka series or Dave Filoni’s upcoming Mandoverse movie. No matter where she appears, it can be trusted that Sackhoff will continue to guide the character as wonderfully as she has been for years.
10 James Earl Jones – Darth Vader
Darth Vader has one of the most iconic voices in cinematic history, and that’s due to the fantastic work that James Earl Jones has done bringing the menace to life. Jones famously voiced Vader throughout the entirety of the original Star Wars trilogy, before returning briefly at the end of Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
However, Jones has also lent his vocal talents to the Sith Lord in animation as well. He voiced the character in several episodes of the series Star Wars Rebels, in which the Sith Lord formerly known as Anakin Skywalker came face-to-face with his old apprentice Ahsoka Tano. These days, Jones’s voice can still be heard as Vader in shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi, however, the actor didn’t actually record his lines for that show. He has retired from the role of Vader, but he has signed an agreement with Lucasfilm that allows them to recreate his voice through various uses of digital masking and AI technology.
9 Corey Burton – Cad Bane
In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, Cad Bane was established as one of the most ruthless and feared bounty hunters in the galaxy. He was voiced by the actor Corey Burton in that series, who also voiced several other characters, such as Count Dooku and Ziro the Hutt.
Burton returned to voice the character in the Disney+ animated series, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, as well as in his live-action debut in the latter episodes of The Book of Boba Fett. While Burton did not bring Bane to life physically in the Boba Fett series – he was played on-screen by the stunt person Dorian Kingi – Burton did voice the character, bringing back the instantly recognizable and gravelly timbre of the assassin.
8 Forest Whitaker – Saw Gerrera
Saw Gerrera is a supporting character in Star Wars that has been popping up all over the place in the last ten years. He first debuted during the fifth season of the animated The Clone Wars series in 2012. It was a relatively minor role that only factored into one three-episode story arc, where he was voiced by Andrew Kishino. However, the character’s second appearance was in live-action only a few years later.
He appeared in Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyin 2016, where he was played by none other than Forest Whitaker. Immediately following that, Gerrera appeared in animation once again, as he factored into the third season of Rebels, with Whitaker lending his vocal talents to the character there as well. Since then, Gerrera has appeared in several other projects, such as the animated series The Bad Batch, the live-action show Andor,and the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. While Kishino returned to voice the character in The Bad Batch, Whitaker has reprised the role in both Andorand Jedi: Fallen Order.
7 Sam Witwer – Darth Maul
While Darth Maul is most famous for his appearance in 1999’s Episode I – The Phantom Menace, he developed into a much richer and more dynamic character throughout his subsequent appearances. Maul was played physically by the stunt person Ray Pay in The Phantom Menace, with actor and comedian Peter Serafinowicz lending his voice to the character.
The actor that has come to most greatly define the Sith apprentice, however, is Sam Witwer. Witwer voiced the character throughout his appearances in the animated shows The Clone Wars and Rebels, through which he brought a lot more life and personality to the role. When Maul finally appeared in live-action again at the end of 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, Witwer returned to voice the character while Park reprised the role physically. While nothing has actually come of that end-of-movie tease (at least, not on-screen), we’re still hopeful that Witwer and Park will have more opportunities to bring Maul to life in live-action.
6 Christopher Lee – Count Dooku
There was quite literally nobody more fitting to play a Sith Lord in the Star Wars prequels than Sir Christopher Lee. The actor, who sadly passed away in 2015 at the age of 93, was one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. He had played countless iconic villains, ranging from Saruman in The Lord of the Rings to the titular role of Dracula in Terence Fisher’s 1958 adaptation of the classic horror novel. In the role of Count Dooku, Lee was one of the biggest positives to come from the prequel films.
The role of Count Dooku has since continued to be a key part of the franchise, as he was a core villain in the animated series The Clone Wars, and he recently received more exploration in the Tales of the Jedi animated Disney+ anthology show. While Burton (the same actor who voiced Cad Bane) played Dooku throughout both of those shows and numerous other appearances in animated series and video games, Lee did return to the role once. He lent his voice to the character in the 2008 animated film Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which served as a theatrical pilot to the animated series that followed.
5 Steve Blum – Garazeb Orrelios
As the most recent addition to this list, the character of Garazeb Orrelios is a familiar face for fans of the animated series Star Wars: Rebels. Zeb, as he’s more frequently referred to, was one of the lead characters in Rebels and a core crew member aboard the rebel ship “The Ghost.” Throughout Rebels, Zeb was voiced by Steve Blum, whom animation fans may recognize as the voice of Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop, Sub-Zero in recent Mortal Kombat outings, the fictional host of Toonami “TOM,” and many other projects.
Zeb recently made his live-action debut in the third season of The Mandalorian, potentially setting him up for a return alongside many other Rebels characters in the Ahsoka series later this year. Given the alien nature of the character, he was a digital creation brought to life with the help of a motion capture artist, but Blum returned to voice the character for the brief appearance.
4 Matthew Wood – General Grievous
The villainous lightsaber-wielding cyborg General Grievous is one of the most memorable new characters to be introduced in the prequel trilogy. He first appeared in the 2-D animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series from Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky, which was a separate (now non-canon) series that preceded Filoni’s more famous 3-D animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Grievous was voiced by two actors – John DiMaggio and Richard McGonagle – throughout Tartakovsky’s series. When the character was brought into live-action in Revenge of the Sith, Gary Oldman was supposed to voice the character, but Lucasfilm sound editor Matthew Wood stepped into the role after Oldman had to exit. Wood, who had also voiced various background and side characters throughout previous Star Wars films, would then go on to voice Grievous throughout his many future animated appearances in Filoni’s The Clone Wars.
3 Ming-Na Wen – Fennec Shand
The character of Fennec Shand debuted in the first season of The Mandalorian, which also happened to be the first ever season of a live-action Star Wars television series. Shand, who was an esteemed and reputable mercenary, was played by Ming-Na Wen. She made a real impact in her role on The Mandalorian, so the character of Shand has continued to show up in Star Wars since.
Wen has played the character in live-action again in the second season of The Mandalorian, as well as in The Book of Boba Fett, where she was promoted to a co-leading role. In addition to those series, Shand has also appeared in the first season of the animated series The Bad Batch, with Wen returning to voice the character. She will reportedly also play a role in the third and final season of The Bad Batch, which is set to be released on Disney+ in 2024.
2 Samuel L. Jackson – Mace Windu
As one of the highest-ranking members of the Jedi Council in the prequel trilogy, Mace Windu was a Jedi of particular esteem. Windu was famously played by Samuel L. Jackson in all three of those films, before he seemingly met his end at the hands of Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith. In addition to making a vocal cameo at the end of Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, Jackson also returned to voice the character in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated film.
Just as Lee did for Dooku, Jackson played the character in the film/pilot before the role was taken over by another actor for the full animated series. Terrence C. Carson, who had also voiced the character in Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, stepped in to voice the character in Filoni’s The Clone Wars, and he has continued to play the part in other animated series and video games since.
1 Lars Mikkelsen – Grand Admiral Thrawn
Finally, the last entry on this list is one actor that will be joining the Star Wars animation and live-action club soon. Lars Mikkelsen, famous for his roles in drama series like the BBC’s Sherlock and Netflix’s House of Cards, voiced the infamous villain Grand Admiral Thrawn throughout his numerous appearances in the final two seasons of the animated Star Wars Rebels. He served as the primary antagonist of that series, and the character will be making the jump into live-action imminently.
After being teased in The Mandalorian on more than one occasion, Thrawn will play a central role in the live-action Ahsoka series later this year, with Mikkelsen reprising the role. He’s not just voicing the character either, he’s tackling Thrawn’s physicality as well, complete with the deep blue skin and striking red eyes. Mikkelsen has his work cut out for him too, as Thrawn is likely to be the central villain in Filoni’s Mandoverse film as well, meaning that fans will be seeing plenty of live-action Thrawn in the near future.