Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga’s 10 Best Performances, Ranked

From Anthony Daniels as C-3PO to Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Palpatine, here are the best performances from Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga.

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Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Acting isn’t one of the biggest talking points when it comes to the Star Wars saga. It’s all about the strange, pulpy characters that the actors play. These movies are pure escapist fantasies. When planet-hopping is a given, the audience isn’t paying attention to the artifice of acting, because they’re swept up in the world.

But that just presents the actors with an extra challenge, because they have to be so good that it immerses the viewer in a situation like a rainy planet where an army’s being cloned or a forest moon where tribal teddy bears defeat their heavily armed empirical overlords with sticks and rocks.

10 Anthony Daniels As C-3PO

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Although he was seriously short-changed in the sequel trilogy (he got turned into a walking, talking plot hole in The Rise of Skywalker), C-3PO is one of the most important figures in the Star Wars saga. In the original 1977 movie, he and R2-D2 are the only main characters we follow for the first 25 minutes.

Anthony Daniels’ ability to play Threepio’s emotions is massively underrated. The actor is encased in metal, unable to move his face or his arms, and yet the anxious protocol droid’s personality always shines through, clear as day.

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9 Liam Neeson As Qui-Gon Jinn

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Liam Neeson turned down the role of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy because he didn’t want to play another character who gets killed off in the first chapter of a blockbuster trilogy. But he made a huge impression as Obi-Wan’s master Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace.

The “Duel of the Fates” sequence is a dazzling spectacle that culminates in one of the most heartbreaking death scenes in the entire saga. Thanks to Neeson, Qui-Gon had developed strong on-screen bonds with characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and even Jar Jar to give his untimely passing maximum impact.

8 James Earl Jones As The Voice Of Darth Vader

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

While David Prowse’s hulking physique is what gave Darth Vader his terrifying screen presence, it was James Earl Jones’ voice dubbing over Prowse’s lines that really brought the iconic villain to life.

Jones’ voice is perhaps more booming than anyone else on the planet. His voice alone exudes Vader’s authority. Paired with masterful writing, Jones’ unforgettable delivery of “No, I am your father!” created arguably the greatest plot twist in movie history.

7 Mark Hamill As Luke Skywalker

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

There are reports that not a lot of people working on Star Wars’ production, or the studio financing it, believed it would be very successful. Among the few people who could tell George Lucas had created something special was a young Mark Hamill.

Hamill has taken the mythos of Star Wars seriously since he started playing Luke, and it brought real pathos to Luke’s journey in the original trilogy. (The less said about The Last Jedi’s non-Hamill-approved Luke, the better.)

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6 Natalie Portman As Padmé Amidala

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

In between cult genre classics like Léon and Oscar-winning masterpieces like Black Swan, Natalie Portman’s filmography features a couple of blockbuster franchises that eventually lost interest in her character. She was turned into a background character in the Thor movies (although Taika Waititi is currently working on rectifying that) and Padmé’s arc took a nosedive in Revenge of the Sith.

In The Phantom Menace, Padmé is a fierce queen who fights on the frontlines with her soldiers and goes undercover to keep an eye on Qui-Gon on Tatooine. In Attack of the Clones, her romantic scenes with Anakin fall flat, but she gets some awesome action in the final gladiatorial standoff. Then, in Revenge of the Sith, she just mopes around the apartment until she dies of sadness. But even when the writing weakened, Portman brought her all to the role.

5 Adam Driver As Ben Solo

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

While great actors like John Boyega and Oscar Isaac were deprived of the material to give substantial performances in the sequel trilogy, as Boyega himself has pointed out, the writers had material in spades for Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver.

Driver, in particular, always managed to bring a degree of nuance to Kylo Ren’s scenes, even if his overall arc was muddled and inconsistent and he was mostly just a whiny edgelord.

4 Carrie Fisher As Leia Organa

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Carrie Fisher’s dry wit is all over the original Star Wars trilogy, and not just in her performance as Leia Organa because she polished up George Lucas’ dialogue on the set, so she’s basically an uncredited co-writer.

Leia is technically a princess who needs to be rescued, but she subverts that fairy tale trope by rescuing her rescuers seconds later when they screw up the plan (and also withstanding torture and being the leader of a far-left militia). Fisher was the perfect feminist icon to breathe life into Leia.

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3 Ewan McGregor As Obi-Wan Kenobi

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

After Alec Guinness made an icon out of the old Ben Kenobi, Ewan McGregor faced the challenge of having to play a young Jedi badass who could feasibly be the younger version of Guinness’ Kenobi while still standing out as a distinctly McGregorian performance.

It’s fair to say that McGregor nailed it. His effortless charisma, incorruptible drive to do the right thing and general vibes of wholesomeness are pure Obi-Wan. McGregor is the only actor who could bring irresistible charm and staying power to the line, “Hello there.”

2 Harrison Ford As Han Solo

Star Wars The Skywalker Sagas 10 Best Performances Ranked

Just as Mark Hamill’s devotion to the Star Wars mythos was perfect for the role of Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford’s snarky cynicism toward the material was perfect for the role of Han Solo.

Ford might not necessarily be an intergalactic smuggler, but he is Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich did a fine job of playing young Han, but there’s simply no replacing Ford as this character.

1 Ian McDiarmid As Emperor Palpatine

Ian McDiarmid is one of the only Star Wars actors to play his role in all three trilogies. Young McDiarmid played old Palpatine in the original trilogy, then old McDiarmid played relatively young Palpatine in the prequel trilogy, then even older McDiarmid played clone-zombie Palpatine in the sequel trilogy.

In all instances, McDiarmid’s balance of deceptive campness and genuine menace was just perfect for the role of the evil space wizard puppet-master secretly pulling the strings of the entire galaxy.

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