Four Scots who helped shape the Star Wars universe

SCOTLAND is reportedly one of several countries used for filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is released on Thursday. Whether or not that’s true, what is sure is the role these Scots have played in making Star Wars the mega-franchise it is today

Darth Vader and a contingent of imperial storm troopers patrol Edinburgh Castle esplanade. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Darth Vader and a contingent of imperial storm troopers patrol Edinburgh Castle esplanade. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

DENIS LAWSON (Wedge Antilles)

The RSAMD graduate was an established theatre actor when he was cast as X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in the first Star Wars film, released in 1977. He would reprise the role in both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Born in Crief, Lawson has enjoyed a prolific career and received an Emmy nomination for his performance in the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House. He was reportedly offered the chance to reprise his role as Wedge in the latest Star Wars instalment, but declined as it would have “bored him”. His links to the series extend far beyond his own role, however.

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EWAN McGREGOR (Obi Wan Kenobi)

Yoda enjoys the view of the Edinburgh skyline. The latest Star Wars film opens on Thursday. Picture: TSPL

A second Lucas star to hail from Perthshire, McGregor first found fame in Danny Boyle’s seminal mid-1990s films Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. He appeared as Obi Wan Kenobi in all three Star Wars prequels, from Episode I-III, following in the footsteps of his uncle Denis Lawson. McGregor is one of the most prolific Scottish actors working in Hollywood, with future roles including Disney’s forthcoming Beauty and the Beast and the long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting just two of the projects he has signed up for, proving the franchise has not typecast him. “When I was first asked, Denis told me not to do it,” McGregor told The Scotsman in 2012. “He said to me that they weren’t the most satisfying films to make, and that if I wanted a career in my thirties, I shouldn’t do it. He was speaking from experience, of course. So I did it.”

RAY PARK (Darth Maul)

The man behind the double-bladed lightsaber was in reality a martial arts champion when he was cast as Sith Lord Darth Maul in 1999’s Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. While the character had few lines, and its voice was dubbed by Peter Serafinowicz, Darth Maul’s striking visage was the main promotional image of the film. Park, who was born in Glasgow but moved to London at a young age, has since appeared in further blockbusters including X-Men and TV dramas such as Heroes.

IAIN McDIARMID (Palpatine)

The Lawson link to Star Wars continues. Dundee-born McDiarmid was an acting class compatriot of the X-Force pilot and would go on to make his own striking contribtuion to the series. He portrayed Palpatine, then an aging emperor of the Galactic Empire, in Return of the Jedi - a role which required four hours’ worth of make-up. Happily for McDiarmid, things were easier when he revived the character in Episodes I and II, where Palpatine was much younger in appearence. McDiarmid remains proud of his Star Wars association, he told The Scotsman in 2011, but has no time for some of its more obsessive fans. “It’s not about disowning the role, far from it,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have played it, I had a great time, and it’s done a lot for me, in lots of ways. And I like working with George. It’s just the relentlessness of it, though it’s sort of stopped, now.”