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'Star Wars’ Performances That Are Way Better Than They Have Any Right To Be

Updated February 11, 2021 3.0k votes 400 voters 19.4k views15 items

List RulesVote up the performances that go above and beyond in a galaxy far, far away.

The Star Wars franchise is one of the biggest pop culture phenomena of all time, but it definitely isn't like the highest form of art around. And even though it may just be big-budget, popcorn entertainment for the masses, there have been some absolutely incredible performances throughout the many entries in the franchise.

There is a lot to choose from when picking the best performances in Star Wars. Do you go with Alec Guinness from the original trilogy? Do you go more recent with an acclaimed actor like Adam Driver in the sequel trilogy? What about one of the surprising guest stars from The Mandalorian? Whatever way you slice it, scroll down to find out which Star Wars performances are way better than they have any right to be.

  • Ewan McGregor In The Prequel Trilogy
    Photo: Revenge of the Sith / 20th Century Fox

    Much has been said over the years about the prequel trilogy, both good and bad, but one thing most fans can agree on is Ewan McGregor's performance as Obi-Wan Kenobi. Following in the footsteps of the great Alec Guinness is no easy feat, but McGregor managed to emulate the iconic actor without seeming like a pale imitation.

    Just how popular was McGregor in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi? Well, if an all-new Disney+ series starring the actor in the role isn't proof, we're not sure what is.

    Great performance?
  • When Liam Neeson was cast as Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace, he was still "Liam Neeson: Serious Actor" as opposed to "Liam Neeson: Star of Three Taken Films." Seriously, the turn from Schindler's ListNell, and Les Misérables to The Phantom Menace can give you some major whiplash. And though the Northern Irish actor is continuing his forays into action film well into his 60s, the man can still turn out a dramatic performance with the best of them.

    It goes without saying that the screenplay for The Phantom Menace isn't exactly the pinnacle for the Star Wars franchise, yet Neeson manages to wring the best from it. When Qui-Gon is slain during the climax by Darth Maul, it really hits home. 

    Great performance?
  • Carrie Fisher In The Original And Sequel Trilogies
    Photo: The Empire Strikes Back / 20th Century Fox

    Decades before Daisy Ridley's Rey became a Star Wars icon for kids around the world to root for, Carrie Fisher set the standard for women in the franchise with her iconic hair and tough-as-nails attitude. Though she would never again reach the acting heights of her early success in a galaxy far, far away, Fisher remains a legend to this day thanks to her performance as Leia.

    Returning to the role in the sequel trilogy brought the actor back into the limelight before her untimely 2016 demise; her performances served as a reminder of her incredible screen presence, and The Last Jedi let her shine as the headstrong leader of the Resistance. 

    Great performance?
  • Alec Guinness was a major name in Hollywood for decades, having appeared in iconic films like The Bridge on the River KwaiLawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago. When he was cast in Star Wars, it brought an air of credibility to a film that was projected to be an abject failure. 

    And Guinness definitely wasn't a fan of the Star Wars films that brought him a new level of fame later in life as well as a lot of money: "I just couldn't go on speaking those bloody awful, banal lines. I'd had enough of the mumbo jumbo." Nevertheless, there is no doubt that his Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the most legendary mentor figures in the history of cinema.

    Great performance?