Spoilers Ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Numerous celebrity cameos have been reported since The Force Awakens opened this weekend. From secret stormtroopers (Daniel Craig), to secret aliens (Simon Pegg), to those who helped create BB-8’s voice (Bill Hader & Ben Schwartz), it seems like there wasn’t anyone in Hollywood who wasn’t involved in this movie. But possibly the biggest cameos were revealed today.
Midway through the film, Rey discovers Anakin/Luke’s old lightsaber in the basement of Maz Kanata’s watering hole. It calls to her, and upon touching it she is hit with a wave of voices and images from the past. Director J.J. Abrams confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that these include the voices of both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, provided by none other than those who originated the roles.
Abrams states that Ewan McGregor, who played Obi-Wan in the prequels, was brought in to record a single line:
“You do hear a little bit of Yoda. You hear Luke yelling out, ‘Nooo!’ from that moment in Empire. And you hear Obi-Wan at the end say, ‘Rey … these are your first steps,’ … Here’s the cool part. We asked Ewan McGregor to come in and do the line. And he was awesome and we were very grateful. He was incredibly sweet and handsome, and all that stuff. Then he rode off on his motorcycle. Literally the coolest voice over actor ever.”
Later, another producer on the film, Bryan Burk, came back to Abrams with another recording of Obi-Wan saying “Rey…”
“I said, ‘That’s cool, is that the thing from Ewan McGregor?’” Abrams recalled. “He said ‘No, we took a line from Alec Guinness saying ‘Afraid.’” Not only that, but the lilt in his voice from that truncated word happened to fit exactly what Abrams had in mind. “They cut it, and you hear the performance – he’s saying it the way I would have begged Alec Guinness to have said it. It is so crazy perfect,” Abrams says. “So when you hear Obi-Wan talk to Rey it is both Alec Guinness and Ewan McGregor doing the voice.”
E.W. also confirms that Frank Oz returned to provide new Yoda dialogue for the moment, but Abrams ultimately decided to use “pre-existing elements.”
These are easy cameos to miss in a first viewing, but keep your ears tuned when you return to see The Force Awakens for a second (or third) time.