Casting Call

Five Actors Who Should Be Star Wars Aliens


In this series, we speculate on what actors would be the perfect choice to play an upcoming character, or what type of character a particular actor is best suited for. Feel free to unilaterally agree with all our picks voice your opinion in the comments!

It’s almost here! And not only have Disney and J.J. Abrams ensured at least three new movies, or even those three with one-shot stories in between. We are reportedly going to get one Star Wars movie every year from now until the end of time (as long as they keep making money, which of course they will). So as long as the movies keep coming, we will need a steady stream of actors who fit the universe and the material.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a career that leads to a galaxy far, far away. Typically the performer is at home in bombastic action sequences, sounds natural either speaking in nonsense technology or vague mysticism, or has a rakish anti-hero in them somewhere deep down. But some serious bonus points should go to any actor who can also adopt the mannerisms or physicality of an alien species while doing it.

So, as a last-chance supplemental of my previous picks for the series, who should be in Star Wars as some funky aliens, specifically?

Yes, I know that because it’s in a galaxy far away from here all of the characters are technically aliens from the perspective of Earth. I’m talking rubber suits, fake teeth, motion-capture, full-on aliens!

Ron Perlman February 2015

1. Ron Perlman

If there’s an actor on this planet who would spend hours in a makeup chair just to play a third-tier character inhabiting this universe, it’s Perlman. It would be easy enough to combine the aesthetics of his Hellboy or “Beauty and the Beast” appearances with the character type he played in Blade II or Pacific Rim. For once, Star Wars would have a side character whose main purpose is to lead the hero to the next clue in his journey, but instead of “Watto the racist Gonzo” or Dexter Jettster the ’50s diner proprietor, we’d have some of that scum and villainy people always talk about.

I picture Perlman as a Devaronian (the devil-looking guy from the cantina), mostly because of his previous work with red skin and horns, although he’d also make a great Falleen character. Heck, he could play the prototypical Falleen, Prince Xizor! A Shadows of the Empire film with Ron Perlman as the green, reptilian crime lord villain! Directed by Guillermo del Toro!

Sorry, I got carried away for a second.

Tim Roth by Gage Skidmore

2. Tim Roth

Roth has already succumbed to endless hours of makeup for Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes outing, and while that movie is a steaming pile Roth was actually pretty good as the whirling dervish of a villain. Of late, Roth was also the lead of his own TV series for a few years called “Lie to Me,” in which he plays a swaggering, pompous human lie detector. This guy is just so good as as a predatory, conniving ghoul.

And what better an actor to play the spymaster species of the Star Wars universe, the Bothans! Imagine Roth’s beady eyes and already-razor teeth behind some fur and claws, say as a Republic senator who is engineering a takeover of a subcommittee or a majority leader position. It would be like “House of Cards” in space! And probably less cartoonish!

Summer Glau by Gage Skidmore

3. Summer Glau

Hurry, first species you think of when you think “female Star Warsalien,” and your results are? Twi’leks. We only saw one female and one male Twi’lek in the original movies, and somehow they all caught a bad rap. All males are slimy sycophants, and somehow all females are stereotyped as slave/exotic dancer.

That’s where petite badass, sci-fi veteran, and actual trained dancer Summer Glau comes in. Her performance as River in “Firefly” and Serenity is already alien enough; now all she needs is some head-tails and a wacky skin color… I’m thinking green. Only instead of a sex slave, she’s an intelligence operative who uses the stereotype to her advantage. It’s a variation on the theme already explored when the tiny lady played an unstoppable killing machine in “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

Thandie Newton 2, 2010

4. Thandie Newton

I hope this pick would still be relevant, as she may be too busy for Star Wars if HBO’s new take on “Westworld” becomes a hit. Also, is she playing an android on that? Because I’d believe it. Newton is a terrific actress with many accolades for her roles in The Pursuit of Happyness and Oliver Stone’s W. (wherein she pulls off the best Condoleezza Rice imitation outside SNL). But she’s also no action lightweight, appearing in such hyper-stylized fare as John Woo’s bonkers Mission: Impossible II, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, and a big special effects-filled space opera called, er, The Chronicles of Riddick.

In some of these action pictures, she’s demonstrated a sly and playful persona that would meld well in the “scum and villainy” section of the series. For those of us initiated into the expanded universe geekery, it would be fun to see her as a Chiss rogue of some kind. But going by just the species seen in the films, I’d like to see a Mirialan character (such as Luminara and Barriss Offee) that uses the Force skills typical to the species to cheat at cards, trick customs officials, and basically be a scoundrel. No lightsaber, no robes, just a basic working understanding of the Force. Newton would have fun with that.

Danny Pudi by Gage Skidmore 2

5. Danny Pudi

The great Abed of TV’s “Community” has such an unearthly physique and mannerisms while playing his breakout character, I almost want him to play a droid in Star Wars rather than an alien. But there are so many species that can be applied to him, even without the rehash of the Abed character. His measured tone and inscrutable deadpan are what make Abed a fun character, and those traits can be lifted from the walking pop-culture encyclopedia and accentuated for great alien effect.

Pudi could be a Duro, a Rodian, or even a Neimoidian. I know everyone hates the Neimoidians for good reason, but picture Pudi in lots of makeup as one of those frog Viceroy’s misfit son who goes off on a big ol’ space adventure and gets mixed up with the Rebellion. By virtue of even living through his ordeal he becomes a legendary hero among his (literally and figuratively) spineless species. Star Wars meets Rushmore with a kind of road trip plot, starring a sort of version of Lt. Kiff from “Futurama.”

I’d watch the hell outta that, Disney.

Agree? Disagree? More ideas? Let us know in the comments.


About the author

Daniel Epstein
Father, filmmaker, and writer. Once he won an Emmy, but it wasn't for being a father or writing.