Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was an ambitious project out of the Disney era of the franchise. As the first film which wasn’t a numbered movie, it had a unique role to establish. It needed to succeed to lay the groundwork for future projects like it. As the movie was a smash hit, it thrived enough to get a spin-off prequel series, Andor.
Where it is set in the timeline, Rogue One is a unique blend of characters helping to bridge the Prequels and the Original Trilogy together. With the appearance of characters from both of these eras plus animation along with a Sequel Trilogy nod thrown in there, here are 10 cameos for Rogue One.
1. Mon Mothma
The journey that Genevieve O'Reilly went on to bring Mon Mothma to the screen is a fascinating story of triumph. She was cast as a young Mon Mothma in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith only for her scene to get cut out of the final version of the movie. Her character made multiple appearances throughout Clone Wars, but Mon was voiced by Kath Soucie, who is a legendary voice actress in the business.
O’Reilly finally returned to Mon Mothma in Rogue One, getting a chance to showcase her skills. She continued to build upon her character by voicing Mon in Star Wars Rebels and then in the Rogue One prequel series, Andor, where she gave a stunning performance. O’Reilly’s return to the franchise was absolutely worth the wait.
2. Bail Organa
Jimmy Smits reprised his role as Bail Organa. He first played the Senator of Alderaan in Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. It was in the third movie that he would accept an infant Leia as his daughter to raise with his wife Breha. Smits would again portray Bail Organa in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Chopper is one of the subtle animation cameos in Rogue One. The cranky droid from Star Wars Rebels makes an appearance on Yavin 4 Base as the rebel leaders realize Jyn Erso and her team have gone after the Death Star plans on their own. Chopper rolls across the left side of the screen and out of the shot in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo.
For a behind the scenes look at this moment, the Star Wars Rebels web series, Rebels Recon, had a “Chopper Cam” segment. In these segments, a real live-action Chopper would roll around the Lucasfilm office and cause trouble. While filming this cameo, Chopper Cam moved to England where this Rogue One scene was shot so audiences could learn more about this moment.
4. Hera Syndulla
The other character from Star Wars animation is a bit harder to spot, because she’s not actually on screen.
Hera Syndulla is the leader of the Ghost crew and owner of Chopper in Star Wars Rebels. The Twi’lek general still gets two big nods in the movie. The first is after Jyn and Bodhi Rook attend the meeting with the Rebellion’s leadership on Yavin 4. As the duo leaves disheartened and go to rejoin the rest of their crew, Hera’s name is announced over the intercoms. Then later during the Battle of Scarif as the Rebellion’s fleet arrives from hyperspace, the Ghost can be spotted in the shot.
5. Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan
One of the more obvious cameos was the appearance of Ponda Baba and Dr. Evazan, the two cantina characters that hassle Luke Skywalker on Tatooine. The confrontation led to Baba losing his arm thanks to Obi-Wan Kenobi’s lightsaber. In Rogue One, Jyn and Cassian Andor bump into the duo as soon as they arrive in Jedha City.
6. General Dodonna
Another Original Trilogy character to appear on Yavin Base is General Jan Dodonna. Originally played by Alex McCrindle in Episode IV: A New Hope, Ian McElhinney takes up the mantle in Rogue One. He’s part of the Rebellion leadership who first interrogates Jyn about her father’s whereabouts.
7. Gold and Red Leader
Thanks to the magic of technology, Red and Gold Leader from A New Hope were able to be brought into Rogue One for the Battle of Scarif. Unused footage of Angus MacInnes and Drewe Henley from the Original Trilogy was touched up with CGI and reworked audio elements to fit the action.
Also, another neat detail also added was cut footage of female X-wing pilots. These women were supposed to appear in the Battle of Yavin, but were left on the cutting room floor. Rogue One finally get to fly on the big screen.
8. Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman
It’s always enjoyable when other members of the Star Wars family make appearances in films. Rogue One was no different by sneaking in two subtle familiar people as Death Star technicians: Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman, the director and producer for Episode VIII: The Last Jedi respectfully. As the Death Star fires its super laser, they’re the two men covering their faces.
Rogue One director Gareth Edwards would get the same treatment as Rian Johnson gave him a cameo as a Rebel Soldier in The Last Jedi.
9. R2-D2 and C-3PO
With Rogue One so close to the events of A New Hope, it’s not surprising at all to see the droid duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO pop up on Yavin Base. They comment as the fleet is leaving for the Battle of Scarif as they two will leave with Bail Organa to join up with his daughter Leia.
10. Princess Leia
No one knew that when Rogue One debuted in 2016, a week later the world would lose the unparalleled Carrie Fisher. In the film’s final scene, Princess Leia receives the Death Star plans and says they have hope for beating the Empire. Thanks to CGI and Ingvild Deila as the body actor, the effect was pulled off.
In an interview with Fandango, Gareth Edwards spoke of the only person who mattered when making this cameo and that was Carrie. Before her passing, she got to see the scenes. He said:
“We wanted Carrie to be happy, so Kathy went to her house with her laptop when we felt the shot was close, if not finished. We had about two weeks left, and Kathy went around her house and everyone was waiting to hear. [Kathy] said she showed it to her and [Carrie] thought it was footage. She didn't realize it was CGI. She thought we had some footage. She didn't remember the take and thought we had manipulated a take from the original film. But they told her it was all computer generated and she was really impressed. We were all just so pleased she approved it.”
Sadly, Edwards would never get to meet Fisher before her passing, but in the same interview, he said that the final scene was a love letter to her and the inspiration that Carrie Fisher gave to him as a child.