Cameos of big stars in movies are not something very unusual, but it is quite rare that they take place without the actor in question knowing about it. That was what happened in the case of John Wayne and ‘Star Wars’ in 1977.
The unexpected contribution of John Wayne
the sound designer ben burtt worked on the first two trilogies of the saga created by george lucasnot being until just a few damages ago when he revealed the very curious fact of how the legendary protagonist of ‘Centaurs of the desert’ ended up being part of Episode IV of the galactic saga:
I always wanted to make an insect man; we didn’t actually get a bug man until Poggle, in Episodes II and III. We had this character that looked like some kind of mosquito from the first Star Wars that we needed a sound for. And a few months ago I was wondering how I did it – because I keep notes and tapes – and found out that it was an electronic buzz coming from my synthesizer and it was activated by a human voice. And I listened to it and realized it was John Wayne: he had found some loop lines in the trash in the studio that had been thrown away. So the buzz was triggered by dialogue like “Okay, what are you doing in this town?” or something like that.
The character in question is Garindana spy for the empire who betrays Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi when they go to meet Han Solo at Docking Bay 94. Come on, a character with little screen presence but quite important within the plot of ‘A New Hope’.
There is also the particularity that this makes ‘Star Wars’ the last role of John Wayne’s entire career. That honor officially belongs to ‘The Last Gunslinger’a film released in 1976 and that some consider one of his best performances, but George Lucas’s film came a year after that and also two before the death of the legendary actor.
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